You may have seen movies or even heard about snakes eating eggs and are wondering if they would make a good snack for your pet as well. Unfortunately, the best answer we can give is that in general, eggs are considered safe for most (but not all) snakes to eat, but finding the correct egg for your snake might be difficult. Therefore, you should only consider eggs for your snake if you own an egg-eating species.
Keep reading while we look at which snakes can eat eggs as well as why other snakes can’t, so you can provide a safe and healthy diet for your pets.
Snakes That Prefer Eggs
Dasypeltis is the first of two snake genera that have evolved to eat a diet of eggs. This taxonomy contains the East African egg-eating snake that is a popular home pet. These snakes are a great choice for someone who doesn’t like feeding live food to their pet, however, sourcing eggs for these snakes is difficult, because they usually aren’t large enough to handle chicken eggs. Several other snake species are in this genus, including the Arabian egg-eating snake, montane egg-eating snake, cross-marked egg-eating snake, etc. These snakes are all non-venomous and live where they can access birds’ nests easily.
Elachistodon is the other genus that eats only eggs, and it only comprises the Indian egg-eating snake, which some call the Indian egg eater. You can find these snakes in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. This snake is not poisonous but raises its body into the air in an “S” shape, almost like a cobra when threatened.
How Do Egg-Eating Snakes Eat Eggs?
Egg-eating snakes have a specially designed backbone that helps crack the hard eggshell as it passes through its digestive system. These enamel-tipped bones help crack egg shells after a snake swallows them. Most eggs are smaller-sized quail eggs or similar, but some snakes can get large enough to feed on chicken eggs.
What Other Snakes Can Eat Eggs?
Most other snakes will raid a nest and eat smaller eggs if they can’t find food elsewhere and are large enough, though they will usually look around for other food first. The eggs they eat will often be small, like a quail egg, and will not be a large chicken egg. The shell of an egg is quite hard and will take a snake a long time to digest, so they will often stay dormant for longer after eating an egg, especially since they are without the sharp bones to break the shell that an egg-eating snake has.
What Snakes Cannot Eat Eggs?
The python, boa constrictor, and rattlesnake cannot eat eggs at all, and doing so will cause their bodies to attempt regurgitation, and failure to do so successfully will result in death. These snakes cannot digest the hard shell of an egg, and it will cause severe health complications as it passes through the digestive system. Unfortunately, the ball python is one of the most popular snake species kept as a pet, especially in the United States, so many of us cannot feed eggs to our python pets safely.
How Often Will My Snake Eat?
Younger snakes can eat as often as twice or thrice per week, but as they age, the eating will slow down, and they can eat as little as every other week, especially if they eat something hard to digest, like an egg. Snakes can also change their metabolism depending on the ambient temperature, so it can be challenging to determine when they will eat. A large python can go as long as 6 months without eating, but we recommend contacting your vet if a month has gone by to make sure your pet is not suffering from a blockage or other health problem.
- Related Read: What Do Snakes Eat in the Wild and as Pets?
While most snakes can eat an occasional small egg without any negative health issues, we recommend avoiding it unless you own an egg-eating snake. The hard shells will cause them to go dormant longer than normal, robbing them of nutrients if it occurs too often, and in the case of the popular ball python and boa constrictors, it can be life-threatening. Snakes don’t usually get treats but feeding them a varied diet of healthy foods like rodents and fowl can help them avoid health issues and creates a diet similar to what they might get in the wild. If you want to serve eggs and have a suitable snake, only provide small eggs from a quail or smaller. Larger eggs can cause complications even in snakes that can normally eat them, and it’s better if you contact your vet and ask about the safety of feeding the hard shells to your specific breed.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide and found the answers you need. If we have helped you provide a healthy diet for your snake, please share our look into whether snakes can eat eggs on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: P_galasso2289, Shutterstock