If you own a snake, then you may have some questions regarding what they can and cannot eat. But what about eggs? Do snakes eat these and are they something you can and should feed?
So, can snakes eat eggs? Most species of snake can safely consume eggs along with their regular diet. While some species of snake will live off an all-egg diet, others should not attempt to eat them as they are not able to digest them.
You may have seen videos or clips of wild snakes eating eggs. Does a pet snake differ? The short answer to this question is that it depends entirely on the species of the snake.
So if you own a pet snake it is essential that you understand the species ahead of time. Keep reading so that you know exactly what you can and cannot do when it comes to feeding your snake eggs. Be it chicken, quail or any other egg in which you may consider.
What Snakes Can Eat Eggs?
The only two species of snakes commonly kept as pets that eat a diet exclusively of eggs are the African Egg-Eating snake and the Indian Egg-Eater. The clue is in the title really.
While other species of snakes can consume eggs, these two must subside on eggs as it is how they have evolved and a primary foodstuff for generations. These species of snakes do not actually have fangs or teeth, so they can’t eat anything but eggs.
Research from the Journal of Zoology state that these types of snakes have very few teeth; especially compared to other snakes. This is because, they have adapted to prevent them from ‘getting in the way’.
Outside of these two species, for the most part, snakes will consume small mice and insects. Eggs are usually not on the menu but snakes will usually attempt to eat them (if and when provided – so long as they are large enough).
Other snakes, will have little interest in eggs and they will not be a significant priority. The Black Rat snake is one such example, whom will only resort to eating eggs if other food sources are not available.
If you are not sure what to feed your snake on a daily basis, it’s important that you educate yourself into the requirements of your specific species.
What Snakes Cannot Eat Eggs?
There are some species of snakes that cannot nor should not attempt to eat eggs. These include Pythons, Rattlesnakes and the Boas species.
These species are carnivorous and require alive or recently killed animals as the primary source or nutrition in their diets.
If any one of these snakes attempted to eat an egg, they would likely die. This is because they are unable to digest and process the egg and would likely fail to regurgitate and expel it from their mouths. Their spinal structure is far more rigid than other species of snakes.
Learning about each snake species and their own unique digestive system will go along way into helping you understand what the most optimal diet for each snake is.
Ultimately, some snakes can whereas others cannot eat eggs. It’s all down to their genetic makeup and what they can effectively and safely digest.
Do Snakes Eat Their Own Eggs?
Generally speaking, snakes will not eat their own eggs. But it does happen, and there is a reason for it. And its not hunger.
The occasion when a snake may eat their eggs, is when an egg is unlikely to develop and hatch. The snake is therefore attempting to acquire the nutrients from a yolk that would otherwise be wasted.
A snake will make this decision when an egg is deformed in some way, or it has been laid with numerous cracks. The snake is therefore making a call whether or not the egg can produce a healthy baby snake. If it is deemed it cannot, the egg will likely be eaten.
It would be counter-productive for a snake to eat her own eggs; it reduces the odds of passing her genetics on. There is also relatively little nutrition to gain from the eggs themselves.
Snakes do not generally hang around once their eggs have been laid. Part of the laying process includes hiding them concealed in what has been deemed a safe location. The eggs are concealed from potential predators,protecting them from being eaten. Once hatched, the snakes will venture out on their own to acquire their own food.
Snakes eating their own eggs is done primarily to acquire the yolk and prevent it from being wasted. There are some nutrients that can serve the mother snake, and it is better to be consumed than sit to rot.
Sometimes the yolk is eaten over a period of time, on other occasions it is swallowed whole.
Ultimately, a snake will only attempt to eat the eggs deemed unlikely to hatch. The rest of the eggs, that appear healthy, will be left to hatch.
How do Snakes Eat Eggs?
The anatomy of a snake dictates how they go about eating their food. Of course, they have fangs and the ability to expand their bodies. As such, snakes do not chew food. Instead, food is always swallowed whole.
From there, the food passes into their stomachs where it sits to digest through a number of processes and with the assistance of the digestive system (and acids).
With an egg, the digestive process is considerably more complex. Eggs come pre-packaged in a strong outer layer that is challenging to dissolve. Therefore, it takes much longer for the egg to be dissolved through the acids. It consequently sits for much longer.
This is very important to consider as the majority of snakes stop moving or become completely redundant as they digest their food.
It is here we gain further insight into why some snakes can and cannot eat eggs.
In certain species of snake (that can eat eggs), they have evolved internal body parts (rib-like spurs) deep inside their bodies on their spines, that actually crack the shell of the egg. This enables the shell (strong and abundant in calcium) to be effectively broken down and the yolk can be accessed.
Whereas in species that do not have this anatomy, they are unable to effectively digest the egg. The shell remains completely in tact and the acids cannot easily breakdown the hard shell.
What Kind Of Eggs Do Snakes Eat?
So by now you are probably wondering what types of eggs does a snake eat. Of course this depends if we are talking about wild or pet snakes.
For wild snakes, they consume the eggs that they can source. These generally include bird eggs but also other snakes eggs. They are typically quite small in size.
As a pet snake owner, assuming that your species can consume eggs (always check before!) you should be able to give them small quail eggs.
Once you have a full adult snake, and considering they are large enough, you should be able to provide them with a chicken egg.
Of course, it is imperative that you investigate or even ask a snake specialist ahead of time.
Essentially, you need to find the appropriate sized eggs for the respective size of your snake.
Depending on where you go, eggs can differ in size so you do need to be careful.
Alternatively, it has been known that the smallest snakes even attempt to eat the eggs of much smaller animals. Sometimes even insect eggs!
Not all snakes eat eggs, but some do. Others will subside entirely off eggs.
It ultimately depends on the species of snake and what they evolved to consume. Their anatomy and size largely dictates what they can and cannot eat.
For the most part, snakes will not eat their own eggs and will only do so to reclaim nutrients that would otherwise go to waste.
In the wild, eggs that are consumed include small bird, lizard and quail eggs. As a pet snake owner, whether you decide to provide this food is going to depend. Either way, you should always do your research ahead of time.