What do snakes eat in the wild?

All snakes are carnivores, but the food they eat all depends on their species. In the wild, smaller snakes will eat bugs or frogs and larger snakes will eat larger animals like birds and rodents. In captivity, snakes are mostly fed mice and rats or for larger species, chickens and pigs. 

A snake’s diet will be a little different in the wild since they are opportunistic eaters meaning they’ll eat a wide variety of prey and they can adapt to whatever food is available. 

Since snakes take any opportunity to eat food in the wild there is a long list of creatures snakes will eat. 

There are over 3,300 different snake species in the world and even more species of snake’s prey. Here are the most common prey of snakes. 

What do small snakes eat

small snake eating frog

Small snake species like the smooth earth snake(Virginia valeriae) grows to about 7-10 inches. Snakes this small eat bugs such as earthworms.

The smallest species of snake, the Barbados thread snake, grows to only a few centimeters long(around 4 inches). These tiny snakes feed on ant and termite eggs. 

Since snakes are opportunistic eaters they’ll eat everything that moves including frogs. 

Here’s a list of the most common prey for smaller snakes:

  • Worms
  • Lizards
  • Frogs
  • Snails 
  • Slugs
  • Mites
  • Millipedes
  • Toads
  • Tadpoles 
  • Salamander 
  • Fish

Remember that each species has its preference of prey and all small snakes won’t eat everything on this list. 

For example, worm snakes will eat worms and insects but will shy away from eating lizards or frogs. 

Corn snakes on the other hand will eat everything that breathes. Ok, maybe not everything but they’ll take down more than half of this list. 

Other snakes that would eat these include garter snakes, ring-necked snakes, rosy boas and other species less than 6 feet long. 

What pet snake is right for you? Find out here: Best Pet Snake for Your Lifestyle

What do big snakes eat in the wild? 

boa constrictor eating

Large snakes like anacondas, reticulated pythons, and boa constrictors need larger prey in order to survive. 

Snakes like these grow over 6 feet long and can be as long as 19 feet. 

These are the prey that large snakes will eat:

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Birds 
  • Bird eggs
  • Lizards
  • Lizard eggs
  • Pigs
  • Deer 
  • Caiman (type of crocodile)
  • Fish
  • Large rodents
  • Goats
  • Possums
  • Bats 
  • Mongoose

Large species of snakes that would eat these types of prey include spitting cobra, brown tree snakes, rattlesnakes, and Burmese pythons.

What should I feed my pet snake?

Pet snakes should be fed mice or rats to get the most nutrients. Smaller snakes can be fed baby mice called pinkies, hoppers, and fuzzies. 

Larger snakes should be fed rats to provide enough nutrients to grow. 

Frozen mice and rats can be purchased online or at chain pet stores.

How to feed your ball python


There are over 3,000 species of snakes all around the world that all have unique traits including diet preferences. 

Even though they are opportunistic eaters they are all carnivores and have a few similar preys amongst their entire species. 

The common prey includes mammals, birds, lizards, amphibians, and insects although, as pets, they are most commonly fed mice and rats. 


Pisani, G. (2009). Use of an active ant nest as a hibernaculum by small snake species. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science (1903-),112(1/2), 113-118. Retrieved April 14, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40588228