Feeding Snakes

The frequency of feeding your snake depends entirely on the species, age, size and the results you wish to achieve.
Some species, like the Western Hognose have a higher metabolism so will feed twice weekly as they grow. These are a species that should be fed smaller amounts more often, rather than a bigger food item less often.
Most snakes, however would be happy with regular weekly feeds.

A hatchling snake (Royal Python or Corn Snake for example), once it is feeding, will take twice weekly feeds, and will grow fairly quickly on this. However a balance is needed between encouraging growth and not over feeding. Power feeding involves making the snake grow faster than is natural. This may get them up to breeding size a lot quicker, but it can have a bad effect on their organs, being made to develop too quickly. Once weekly feeds are normally sufficient for most growing snakes.

As the snake develops and gets older, its feeding needs change. An adult female would need to take on more weight before she became gravid, to see her through the period where she is carrying eggs. They tend not to eat during this time, and later on in this period as the eggs are nearly ready to be laid, it can be detrimental to the development of the eggs to have food passing through their stomach.

When a snake is fully adult, and has no need for further growth, for example a 15 year old adult male burmese python, a steady feeding regime can be established. A larger prey item, such as guinea pigs once a month would be more beneficial than a small item such as a rat, taken weekly. All snakes continue to grow, they just slow down the growth rate when they reach a certain size.

A general rule of thumb is that a snake can have a food item around a third of it’s thickness. This does not mean that they should have something this size every meal, it is just the size they can comfortably swallow. Feeding the maximum food size every meal would encourage fast growth, but care should be taken to ensure the snake is not over fed. Feeding a snake so that it grows at a quick rate can be too quick for the organs to deal with, and they can fail if forced to do ther job faster than they naturally would.

A snake will normally tell you when it is hungry. A Royal Python that has it’s head stuck out of its hide, or actively looking round its enclosure is often looking for food. If it is curled in a ball at the back of it’s hide, then chances are it is not interested. This is by no means definite, it could just not be thinking about food right then, but would take it if you offered it. But it is a good indication. When you can read your snake well, as all snakes can show different signs of wanting to be fed, it can lead to less wasted food, as you will pick up on the signs that it is going to eat. Some of our Royals will eat pretty much every time we offer without fail, while others are more picky. Luckily for us, those dustbin feeders will take anything we offer to those that don’t feed. This is not the case with our quarantine section, but this will be covered in more detail in our quarantine article.

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