What’s for dinner?!
Chicken! And a few other things 😉
We like to offer variety to the Snake Haus residents. That means we rotate through rats, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs.
Did you know? Different species of snakes have different nutritional requirements. Let’s compare some of them.
Carpet pythons have a faster metabolism than boas and an ability to eat much larger food than you would expect for their size. Be careful though because they are less active in captivity than in the wild so can still become obese if not given the opportunity to exercise and climb. In their native habitat some of them must often travel long distances to find food. That has given the carpet pythons a higher prey drive and more active hunting style than boas. We sometimes vary our carpets feeding schedule based on the type and size of their last meal.
Boas are very much ambush predators which means they lie still and wait for food to come to them. That has given them a slower metabolism which means they need lower fat foods. We feed our boas smaller rat sizes (small – large), rabbits, or the occasional chicken. Jumbo rats are much higher in fat than smaller rats so we switch boas to rabbits early on so we can avoid feeding the larger rat sizes.
But there’s differencees amongst the types of boas too! The really big girls can handle larger food items but then eat less often. That means the big 9’ and 10’ Boas, like Mario a nd Elsa, get a small or medium rabbit once a month and an xl chicken thrown in for a treat every few months or so. However if you have a boa that needs to lose weight smaller food items, more often, can get their metabolism going to aid in weight loss.
Younger growing boas from ages 1-5 get rats more often (weekly if they’re really thin and small, every two weeks if they have a healthy body condition score.) They also occasionally get a quail or small chicken thrown in the mix for variety.
Some of the dwarf boas are even more unique! The Calker Cay boas evolved on an island where food is scarce and therefore adapted to an arboreal hunting style of catching migratory birds from trees, and are very opportunistic. That means they will eat as often as you let them. However in the wild they often would go long times without food since the migration patterns of the birds they eat aren’t year round or constant. So, although the dwarf boas are very small they are adapted to lower food availability and therefore are only fed here once a month despite being teeny tiny.
The blood pythons are sluggos with the slowest metabolism of all. They eat much smaller food items for their size and less often than the other snakes.
Retics and burms? Forget about it! They are garbage disposals. They eat tons of food due to rapid growth. That means they can eat chickens more often than the boas, and they can have guinea pigs! Guinea pigs are like snickers bars – High calorie and high fat. Yum yum. Whatever you do, please don’t feed guinea pigs to your boas because that’s way too much fat for them.
Last point is don’t forget to cut back on calories once they finish they’re youth rapid growth phase. By the time the retics and burms reach 5 or 6 years of age you can cut back quite a bit on their food. We often see obese burms and retics our there. Just because they want to eat doesn’t mean you should let them. Preventing obesity is vital to your snake living a long healthy life!
I encourage you all to spend some time considering whether or not the diet you are offering your pet snakes is right for them – for their species and locality, as well as for their age.
Hope you enjoyed this brief snake food discussion. Here’s some snake dinner pictures for you!