ISSN 2398-2985      

Snake nutrition

Jreptile

Introduction

  • All snakes are carnivores, feeding on whole prey items.
  • Their digestive system is adapted to digest whole prey, and they ‘cast out’ or defecate the parts of the prey that are not digested, such as fur or eggshell.
  • Eating whole carcasses provides them with added nutrients such as calcium from bone so that no further supplementation is needed.
  • Feeding packaged meat and poultry products is not an appropriate, balanced diet for snakes. Feeding these may seem convenient, but it is not as nutritionally beneficial as whole prey items are.
  • It should be remembered that just because a snake eats something readily does not mean it is nutritionally balanced.
  • It is the responsibility of the person who cares for the captive snake to make sure its nutritional needs are properly met Nutritional requirements.
  • The health of the prey item is just as important as the type of prey item being fed. The prey item should be fed a nutritionally balanced diet and be in good body condition score with no signs of illness.
  • Although some commonly kept species feed on invertebrates in the wild, especially through their juvenile stages, most will readily feed on commercially bred mice and rats.
  • What to feed the snake depends on multiple factors:
    • Availability of prey item.
    • Natural diet.
    • Whether the snake was captive-bred or wild-caught.
    • Size of the snake.
Print off the Owner Factsheet on Feeding your snake to give to your clients.

Prey items

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Anorexia

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Cheek R & Crane M (2017) Snakes. In: Exotic Animal Medicine for the Veterinary Technician. 3rd edn. Eds: Ballard B & Cheek R. Wiley-Blackwell. pp 137-181.
  • Donoghue S (2006) Nutrition. In: Reptile Medicine and Surgery. 2nd edn. Ed: Mader D R. Saunders-Elsevier, USA. pp 251-298.
  • Calvert I (2004) Nutrition. In: Manual of Reptiles. 2nd edn. Eds: Girling S J & Raiti P. BSAVA, UK. pp 18-39.
Reproduced with permission from Bonnie Ballard & Ryan Cheek: Exotic Animal Medicine for the Veterinary Technician © 2017, published by John Wiley & Sons.

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