Getting a pet snake is exciting. However, feeding your new snake will be different than feeding most other fluffy companions. Snakes have an incredibly primitive digestive system that's sensitive to many variables. Serving your snake the right food in the right way will make sure that your snake remains healthy and happy.
What Size of Food
When you feed your snake, it can't just be any size food. Too large of a rodent, and your snake may be injured or not be able to eat at all. Too small and your snake may be hungry far sooner than you expect. The appropriate size prey should be about 1 to 1 ½ times the diameter of the widest part of your snake's body.
There are a few other factors to consider as well. If your snake is prey shy or is recovering from an illness, your snake will require a smaller meal. Eventually after your snake has recovered, you can work up to larger prey again.
How To Serve Your Snake
If you aren't using live feeders, your only other options are frozen rodents. However, your snake won't touch frozen food, so it's important to serve the meal properly.
Never microwave the frozen prey. Not only could uneven heating burn your snake, but the way microwaved prey cooks could make your snake incredibly ill.
Frozen prey should be defrosted in water in your refrigerator before feeding. Then shortly before feeding, you should place the bagged rodent in a bowl of warm water. You want the rodent to be at least room temperature before serving.
To get your snake to eat the prey, you should use feeding forceps to wiggle the rodent to encourage your snake to strike.
When Things Go Wrong
Sometimes mealtime doesn't go quite right. Sometimes your snake may regurgitate or vomit up the meal you provided it. Knowing the difference between vomiting and regurgitation is important for snake owners because it will help to diagnose the problem.
- Regurgitation happens shortly after a meal has been consumed and the meal hasn't made it through the esophagus yet. The rodent will look the same as when it entered your snake. Regurgitation usually happens as a sign of immediate stress, like being handled too soon.
- Vomiting occurs after the food has begun to digest. Food that has been vomited by your snake will show signs of decomposition. Vomiting usually occurs when there's either a blockage or something wrong with the food itself.
If your snake has been vomiting, you need to bring it in to be seen by a vet at an animal hospital. Your vet will be able to make a proper diagnosis by checking over your snake.