There are no vegetarian snakes, but there are snakes you don’t have to feed small animals.
Every Snake Is a Carnivore
All snakes eat meat. There are no snakes that eat plants, even as a small part of their diets.
Young snakes may need to eat smaller animals than larger and more mature snakes, but every snake is a carnivore.
Every snake’s digestive tract is adapted to digesting flesh.
Long and filled with acid, a snake’s stomach can digest the sinews, tendons, and bones of its food animals (although egg-eating snakes will regurgitate the shells).
The process of digestion in a snake takes a relatively long time, so long that many adult snakes only need to eat once a week or once a month, and some snakes, like ball pythons, may not eat for several months at a time.
Snake owners won’t take long to realize that their pets eat meat.
If you put a carrot in front of a snake, it will not recognize it as food.
On the other hand, the scent of a mouse in another room is enough to awaken some snakes’ predatory instincts.
Snakes recognize their food by smell, through their forked tongues, and relate to killed food animals in much the same way that they would react to live food animals in the wild.
Some Snakes Eat Insects and Worms
There are lots of people who are fascinated by snakes but who don’t like the idea of feeding them mice, ducklings, and bunnies.
They don’t like the idea of keeping frozen baby mice in the refrigerator to feed young snakes, and they are horrified at the idea of sacrificing one potential pet to feed another.
Even if you are personally a vegan, your pet snake cannot be.
You will have to buy, raise, or hunt animals to keep your pet snake alive.
But there are snakes that feed on fish, insects, or eggs, not other kinds of pets, that you still can easily maintain for the full reptile experience.
Garter snakes are common throughout the 48 states of the continental United States.
Their long red, yellow, blue, green, or white stripes, and their short tails make them easy to spot when they come out into the open to feed.
Garter snakes can eat rodents like other, larger snakes. However, they don’t need rodents in their diets.
They can also eat various kinds of insects, earthworms, snails, slugs, frogs, lizards, tadpoles, and small fish.
It’s important to give your garter snake a varied diet so it gets all the nutrients it needs.
Don’t feed it just earthworms or just crickets, for instance. It’s also important that you “feed the food” you give your garter snake. See the section on gut-feeding below.
Rough Green Snake
Rough Green Snakes are long (up to 31 inches/80 cm), slender, bright green snakes with white or yellow bellies.
When they are distressed, they freeze, in an attempt to blend in with the green background of their natural habitat.
In the wild, they spend much of their time climbing vegetation in search of insects and small animals to eat.
Rough Green Snakes thrive on a diet of grasshoppers, caterpillars, moths, fly larvae, worms, and spiders.
It’s OK to feed them crickets, mealworms, and grasshoppers every few weeks, but not more often than that.
Crickets, mealworms, and grasshoppers have a rough exoskeleton that can cause severe constipation if a Rough Green Snake eats them too often.
Freshly molted mealworms are easier for your Rough Green Snake to digest. Rough Green Snakes are hungriest at dawn and again at dusk.
Smooth Green Snakes
Smooth Green Snakes have a similar appearance to rough green snakes, except for the smooth scales on their tails.
They are also smaller Rough Green Snakes.
Smooth Green Snakes eat the same foods as Rough Green Snakes, with the addition of ants.
Water snakes, as you might guess, feed on frogs, fish, shellfish, and insects that live in, on, and near the water.
It is important to give them farm-raised food; wild-caught frogs and tadpoles, in particular, may carry parasites that they can pass on to your snakes.
Water snakes tend to be more aggressive than most other pet snakes. There is a real danger of being bitten if you try to feed your water snake by hand.
Gut-Loading Your Snake’s Food
Gut-loading refers to feeding food animals before you feed them to your snake.
Your snake will be better nourished if the food animals you feed it was well taken care of before they were sacrificed to feed your pet.
It’s not hard to gut-feed live insects. Just sprinkle their food in their container, and they will find it.
There are special gut-feeding mixes you can give earthworms, crickets, and mealworms before you feed them to your snake.
Chances are that you won’t want to gut-feed fish or amphibians you later feed your snake.
Feeding these animals makes them uncomfortably like pets. However, there is another way to feed your snake, Reptilinks.
Consider Feeding Your Snake Reptilinks
Reptilinks is a whole-animal food for carnivorous snakes, lizards, turtles, alligators, and crocodiles.
They look something like sausages, except they are made from frog, chicken, quail, rabbit, pheasant, or guinea fowl, or from combinations of those meats.
Reptilinks are treated with the animal scent so they appeal to your snake the same way the live animal would.
Almost any snake that eats rodents can be fed Reptilinks.
Be sure to give your snake an appropriate portion size, however, so it does not suffer digestive issues.
There Are Also Egg-Eating Snakes
Two popular pet snakes feed exclusively on eggs. These are the African Egg-Eating Snake and the Indian Egg Eating Snake.
Both species are considered exotic snakes. Sometimes they are identified by different names.
The African Egg Eating Snake is also sold as the Central African Eggeater or as the Western Forest Egg Eating Snake.It is also known by its scientific name Dasypeltis fasciata.
The Indian Egg Eating Snake is also known as the Indian Egg Eater and by its scientific name Elachistodon westermanni.
You may also see it offered as Westermann’s Snake, after its zoological name.
Of the two, the African egg-eating snake is easier to find. It is also easier to keep as a pet.
Egg-eating snakes don’t have teeth. They have bony plates in the roofs of their mouths that allow them to grasp eggs so they can force them down their extra-flexible, large throats.
Their throat expands around the egg so they can continue to breathe as they swallow the egg.
This ability enables them to swallow eggs whole. Once the egg is inside its necks, three “teeth” come out of their spines to crush the egg so it can be digested.
Then the snakes spit out the shell. These tiny snakes can expand their tracheas so they can swallow an egg several times wider than their bodies.
Egg-eating snakes are fussy eaters. They only eat unfertilized eggs, eggs that would never hatch a chick.
They rob eggs from the nests of female birds that have not mated but lay eggs anyway. In this way they keep protein from going to waste.
Egg-eating snakes typically eat small eggs.
African and Indian Egg Eating Snakes never grow large enough to eat a regular-sized chicken egg, and eating a duck egg or a turkey egg is out of the question.
Most egg-eating snakes have to be fed quail eggs.
However, these two fussy snakes will reject refrigerated eggs.
They will expect fresh eggs, or at least eggs that have been warmed to room temperature as if they were from a bird’s nest.
Vegan Reptiles You Can Keep Instead of a Snake
If you are an ethical vegan, and you choose not to kill animals to feed animals, there is no way you can keep a snake.
However, there are vegan reptiles that may give you a similar experience.
Iguanas thrive in a vegan diet. It’s actually not a good idea to offer them animal protein.
Iguanas enjoy bell peppers, green beans, squash, carrots, apples, bananas, and peas, and they may finish up the kale that you can’t get the rest of your family to eat.
Green iguanas and rhinoceros iguanas are relatively easy to care for, and eat only plants.
Chuckwallas are desert lizards. They are well known for basking on rocks. They love to lie out in the sun to raise their body temperature up to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius).
They need a heat lamp in their enclosures that will be even hotter than that.
The tricky part of feeding a chuckwalla is providing it with the right plants.
And although they love to bask in the open, even opening their cage to offer them food is likely to cause them considerable upset and fright.
Uromastyx is another vegan reptile. These lizards thrive on green vegetables but are sensitive to leafy greens.
The oxalates in spinach, chard, and especially in lamb’s ears can cause a buildup of oxalates that causes kidney stones.
There’s really no way to get around feeding your pet snake meat.
You may be able to choose a snake that can live on prey animals that don’t bother you as much, but if you want a vegan reptile, you will have to buy a lizard.
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