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What Happens If a Snake Eats Something Too Big?

What Happens If a Snake Eats Something Too Big?

The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.

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Caring for snakes is something that can be very rewarding. Some people are drawn to snakes because they find them to be fascinating.

You might enjoy the process of feeding your snake, and watching the snake devour its prey is certainly a sight to behold. What happens if you accidentally give your snake something that is a bit too large for it to eat, though?

Many new snake owners worry about situations such as this. Could your snake be harmed if it tries to eat something bigger than it can handle?

Keep reading to learn about what happens when a snake tries to eat something too big. It should help to set your mind at ease.

It’s Not Good for Your Snake

It’s not good for your snake to eat something that is too big for it to consume. Often, snakes will struggle to try to eat something that is too big for them.

This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for a snake to eat something that is a bit too large. It might wind up being just fine, but it depends on the circumstances.

If your snake eats something large, then it might be able to handle digesting it just fine. Factors that will make a difference include how large the prey is and the current temperature.

The temperature plays a role because higher temps help with digestion. It’s difficult for snakes to digest large prey in a timely fashion if the temps are too low.

If the digestion process takes far longer than it should, then the prey could wind up rotting in the snake’s stomach. This would definitely be bad, and it could harm the snake in a few ways.

What Happens When the Snake Can’t Digest the Prey in Time?

When a snake can’t digest the prey in time, it’s going to wind up rotting in the snake’s stomach. The most common thing that happens after this is that the snake will regurgitate the prey.

This can be very taxing on the snake’s health, though. Having to regurgitate something isn’t good for the snake’s digestive system, and this means that it will take a toll on the snake.

For this reason, it’s best to only give your pet snake prey that is the right size for it. It’d even be safer to give the snake prey that is slightly smaller than what it can handle.

There are some situations where snakes have died due to eating prey that is too large. This will only occur when a snake eats something too big and the temperatures are too low.

It’s unlikely that your pet snake will die due to eating something too large. However, the chance that it could happen isn’t 0%, and this means that you should be cautious.

Snakes Don’t Always Know When a Meal Is Too Large

Some snakes seem to be pretty smart about not eating things that are too large. This doesn’t apply to every snake, though.

Many snakes will try to eat things even if they are visibly too large for them to consume. There have been instances of small snakes taking down fairly large prey animals and trying to consume them.

Sometimes you might even see a snake get the food partway down and then have to spit it back up. The thing to take away from this is that snakes don’t always have a good sense of what they can handle.

As a pet owner, it’s up to you to make good choices. You’re the one providing the snake with the food, and you’ll be able to easily avoid giving the snake food that is too large.

If you do make a mistake, then it could have consequences for the snake. Just try to think about the size of the prey animals that you’re feeding to the snake so that you can avoid any mishaps.

How to Know the Right Size

Those who are new to caring for pet snakes might not have a firm grasp on what size feeder mice or rats to offer their pets. There’s a typical formula that makes it easy to determine if a feeder animal is the right size for your snake.

Feeder mice should be around the same size as the widest part of the snake’s body. The widest part of a snake’s body is generally going to be in the mid-body area.

You can take the time to measure the mid-body area of your snake so that you have a good understanding of its width. Use this knowledge when picking out feeder mice so that you can feed the snake mice that it can handle.

It’s okay for the feeder mice to be a bit bigger than the widest part of the snake’s body. Experts say that you can go as high as 1.5 times the width of the snake and things will be fine.

There’s even some evidence to suggest that giving a snake feeder mice that are slightly larger than this might not be a problem. However, you don’t want to push it, because it’s hard to determine exactly when a large feeder animal will become problematic for the snake.

Do your best to not give your snake food that is larger than 1.5 times its width. Doing so should allow you to keep the snake happy and healthy.

Final Thoughts

Knowing more about this topic should help you to make good decisions for your pet snake. It is indeed possible for snakes to eat prey that is too large for them to properly digest.

Snakes will have a tougher time digesting meals that are too large if the temperatures aren’t high enough. Increasing the temperature a bit might help the snake to power through and digest the meal.

Often, snakes will simply regurgitate the meal if it proves to be too large for them. Otherwise, the food could rot in the snake’s stomach and make it sick.

It’s possible that a snake could die from eating something that is too big, but that doesn’t happen too often since it’s more likely that the snake will regurgitate. Regurgitating a meal is tough on the snake’s system, and you don’t want it to have to do this either.

Be careful when choosing food to give to your snake. Ensure that feeder mice are no larger than 1.5 times the width of the snake.

Want to learn more about snakes? Check out this article. Can Snakes Smell Fear?