Are you looking for a pet snake that you don’t have to feed rodents? Or are you wondering whether you can feed your pet snake eggs?
There are two species of snakes kept as pets that feed on eggs.
And there are other species of snakes that can eat eggs, but there are some kinds of snakes kept as pets that will die if they eat eggs.
And there are some snakes that won’t eat eggs just because they are picky eaters.
Let’s first take a look at the snakes you feed eggs as the mainstay of their diet.
Two Kinds of Pet Snakes Eat Eggs Exclusively
The two species of snakes that eat eggs in the wild and can be kept in captivity are the African Egg-Eating Snake and the Indian Egg Eater.
These snakes are considered exotic pets, so you may have to search for them under different names.
- The African Egg-Eating Snake is also known as the Western Forest Egg-Eating Snake or the Central African Egg eater. It’s also sold under its scientific name Dasypeltis fasciata.
- The Indian Egg Eater is also known as the Indian Egg Eating Snake and by its scientific name Elachistodon westermanni. You may also see it labeled Westermann’s Snake, after its scientific name.
Of the two, the African egg-eating snake is easier to find and easier to keep as a pet.
Everything You Need to Know About African Egg-Eating Snakes
African Egg-Eating Snakes are native to the temperate zone forests in Central Africa at elevations of 3,200 to 3,700 feet (about 975 to 1125 meters).
They prefer constant temperatures that are neither too hot nor too cool. They spend their time in trees where they can rob eggs from bird nests.
In the wild, some African egg-eating Snakes are more active during the day and some African Egg-Eating Snakes are more active at night.
They time their activity so they can take bird eggs when nests are unguarded.
African Egg-Eating Snakes don’t have teeth. Instead, they have bony plates that allow them to grasp eggs and force them down their extra-flexible, large throats.
Their trachea expands around the egg so they can continue breathing as they swallow the egg. This enables them to swallow eggs whole.
Once the egg is inside its neck, three “teeth” come out of its spine to crush the egg so it can be digested.
The snakes then regurgitate the shell. These tiny snakes can swallow an egg several times wider than their bodies.
The main challenge in keeping African Egg-Eating Snakes is that they are too small to eat chicken eggs.
They feed on quail or canary eggs, or other similarly small bird eggs.
They prefer fresh eggs, but they will eat previously refrigerated eggs if you allow the eggs to warm to room temperature.
African Egg-Eating Snakes also need some specific cage conditions and handling precautions:
- African Egg-Eating Snakes are very common in Africa, but rare in the United States. Very few breeders handle them because of the need of finding tiny eggs for baby snakes. You are most likely to find these snakes on the Internet and at reptile shots.
- It’s a good idea to take your snake to the vet for a checkup soon after you get it to test it for Salmonella and parasites.
- Like most tiny animals, African Egg-Eating Snakes will be defensive at first. They will roll up into a ball and make a raspy sound by rubbing their scales together. But after you have fed them a few times, they will become docile and easy to handle.
- Bark makes a good cage lining. You should have one warm side and one cool side of the terrarium, both with plastic plants and climbing features for your snake to explore. Illuminate the cage with a fluorescent light on a timer. Be sure the door is securely latched. African Egg-Eating Snakes will escape if they have a chance.
- African Egg-Eating Snakes need lots of fresh water. They do better when there are water features in their enclosures.
Everything You Need to Know About Indian Egg Eaters
Indian Egg Eaters are native to India, Bhutan, and Nepal.
They don’t live directly on the coast or in marshes, but they are abundant at lower elevations with hot summers and monsoon rains.
They can be found at elevations up to about 3,500 feet (about 1,000 meters).
Indian Egg Eaters are mid-size snakes, growing up to 31 inches (78 cm) long. They are extremely agile when they are climbing vegetation.
They form an S-shaped curve when they are threatened, but they do not usually bite.
Indian Egg Eaters are especially fussy eaters. They only feed on fresh eggs that have not begun to develop a chick.
Female Indian Egg Eaters are easier to feed because they can eat larger eggs.
Other things you need to know about Indian Egg Eaters include:
- In the wild, female Indian Egg Eaters protect their territory from other snakes. It is unwise to place two Indian Egg Eaters in the same cage.
- Wild Indian Egg Eaters feast on sea turtle eggs. Turtle eggs are a preferred food.
- All egg-eating snakes need a place to hide in their terrarium. They will become stressed if they do not have a hiding place, especially if you leave the lights on at night.
- A natural driftwood trunk is the perfect climbing toy for Indian Egg Eaters. Avoid collecting branches in the woods, because they may harbor parasites.
- Indian Egg Eaters are not strictly tropical snakes. They do not need high heat and humidity for skin maintenance. They prefer a hot end and a cool end in their enclosures. They don’t need to soak in water. A bowl of water is enough.
- Quail eggs are the best food for all egg-eating snakes. Make sure you only get unfertilized eggs. They will not eat eggs that have a chick growing inside.
Egg-eating snakes may not eat when they are new to an environment, and even when they start eating, they only need to feed about once a month.
However, if your snake won’t eat at all, consult your veterinarian on force-feeding until your pet gets used to its new environment.
Two Kinds of Pet Snakes that Can Never Eat Eggs
At the other extreme, boa constrictors and pythons cannot eat eggs at all.
The reason these large snakes cannot eat eggs is that they cannot digest them. These snakes swallow their food whole.
Unlike the egg-eating snakes of Africa and India, they don’t have interior teeth that crack the shell and release the yolk and egg white.
And unlike the African and Indian egg-eating snakes, boas and pythons can’t regurgitate their food.
A whole egg would sit in their throats undigested until it interfered with breathing and killed the snake, or the snake died of starvation because it could not get other food to its stomach.
Rattlesnakes can’t eat eggs, either—although it’s very rare to keep them as pets!
Other Pet Snakes That Eat Eggs Occasionally
Between these two extremes, there are other kinds of snakes that can eat small eggs occasionally as an addition to their diet.
These are snakes that eat whatever is available when they live in the wild, supplementing their diet with eggs when they can’t find other prey.
Common pet snakes that can eat eggs include:
- California King Snakes prefer to eat small birds and chicks in the wild, but they will feed on eggs of birds and other snakes. Larger California King Snakes will be able to eat chicken eggs, but younger snakes of this species need to be given quail eggs.
- Corn Snakes mostly feed on rodents that they kill by strangulation. However, in the wild, they can climb trees and feed on bird eggs.
- Garter Snakes mostly feed on live animals, but they will eat eggs when other foods are scarce.
- Milk snakes mostly feed on voles and small rodents. In the wild, they sometimes supplement their diets with the eggs of birds and other snakes.
- Unlike other boas, rosy boas can feed on eggs.
Many female snakes will eat their own eggs if the eggs are cracked or defective in some way.
This is just a way for the snake to benefit from the yolk that otherwise would go to waste. When eggs do not look imperfect, the snake that lays them will typically just leave them alone.
Keep in mind that just because a snake can eat eggs, this doesn’t mean it should eat eggs.
Eggshell takes a long time to break down even in the strong acids of the snake’s stomach.
While snakes that don’t usually eat eggs are digesting them, they can’t feed on other kinds of food they may need to stay healthy.
Don’t Like the Idea of Feeding Snakes Live Food?
Snakes that can eat eggs occasionally can’t thrive when they eat them all the time.
If you don’t like the idea of feeding your snake whole animals, especially dead mice, and you can’t find an egg-eating snake, consider feeding your snake Reptilinks.
Reptilinks are made from combinations of chicken, quail, pheasant, rabbit, frog, and guinea fowl.
They are treated to smell like natural prey, but they look like sausages. If you are squeamish about feeding your snake whole animals, Reptilinks may be a workable alternative.
Ball Pythons can’t eat eggs, but they can eat Reptilinks. However, they usually don’t like to switch the species of prey on which they feed.
Garter Snakes and King Snakes usually adapt well to Reptilinks with an occasional egg.
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