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What Do Snakes Eat?

Sonia Nair
The diet of snakes depends on various factors, like their size, type, season, and habitat. This post provides a brief overview about the food and feeding habits of snakes.
Snakes are reptiles with elongated bodies, that lack appendages, eyelids and external ears. Currently, 20 families of snakes have been identified. These families consist of 520 genera, which in turn, have around 3400 species of snakes.
So, there are different types of snakes, that differ in size, features, habits, and habitats. These creatures can be found across the globe, except the Antarctica and some islands.

Eating Habits and Diet of Snakes

Snakes are carnivorous in nature; and their eating habits are based on various factors, like size, type, habitat, and season. The eating habits of snakes are mainly influenced by their anatomy. While venomous snakes kill their prey by injecting venom, non-venomous ones either swallow the prey or kill it by constriction.
You may wonder how snakes are able to swallow prey, that are bigger than their size. As they lack appendages to tear the prey, snakes have to swallow it in whole. This is facilitated by their skull, with several joints; and their flexible jaw bones. Snakes can unhinge their jaws, and swallow large prey easily.
The African egg-eating snake is a classic example to substantiate the fact that anatomy plays an important role in the feeding habits of a snake. This particular snake has flexible jaws that help them swallow eggs and prey, that are bigger than the diameter of their head.
Though they lack teeth to break the shell, the sharp bony protrusions on the inner side of their spine are meant for this purpose. Usually, small snakes feed on smaller prey, while the big ones go for large prey. Snakes are carnivorous and feed on small animals including lizards, other snakes, small mammals, birds, eggs, fish, snails, and insects.

What do Snakes Eat in the Wild

In general, a snake feeds on any creature, that is abundant in their habitat. Again, they have their own preferences. They may change their choice according to the season. If a prey is too small or big for them, they may not go for it.
It has been observed that, rodents are among the most favorite foods of snakes. This is because, rodents are warm-blooded animals that are easy to kill, either through constriction or by injecting venom.
The tentacle snake eats fish and consume some aquatic plants along with fish. It is said to be the only snake in the world, that feeds on plant matter. It has also been contented that such occurrences amount to accidental ingestion only. While king cobras and king snakes prefer to feed on other snakes, brown snakes eat snails.
Pythons go for much larger prey, like monkeys, deer and kangaroos. In case of desert snakes, like the rattlesnake, the food includes lizards, rodents, birds, and other snakes. Rainforest snakes (anacondas are the most familiar among them) like to feed on deer, rodents, birds, and frogs.