What to feed a baby rat snake

How Often Should You Feed a Gray Rat Snake?

By Ben Team

Grey rat snakes (Pantherophis spiloides) are handsome, medium-sized snakes that thrive in captivity and make rewarding pets. Though hatchlings can sometimes present challenges, once they start eating, rat snakes are very easy to feed. Wild rat snakes consume birds, eggs, rodents and lizards, but captive grey rat snakes should be fed frozen-thawed rodents on a regular schedule.

Hatchlings and Juveniles

In their natural habitat, young grey rat snakes prey on lizards and frogs. This is not recommended for captive snakes, as feeder frogs and lizards are often highly parasitized, and can make your snake sick. Feeding a rat snake a frozen-thawed rodent may require transferring the scent of a lizard or frog to the rodent being offered. Over time, scenting the rodents won't be necessary, and your snake will learn to accept unscented rodents. Hatchlings and juveniles should be fed one rodent every four to five days. Young snakes aren't as capable of handling large prey as adults are, so provide your snake with a mouse fuzzy or small mouse hopper equal to, or only slightly larger than, your snake's mid-body diameter.

Adult Snakes

Rat snakes shift from eating lizards and frogs while young to eating birds and rodents as they mature. Adult rat snakes should be fed larger items, less frequently than young snakes. A schedule of one meal every seven to ten days will keep your adult rat snake healthy. Care should be exercised when feeding adults; captive snakes eat more and exercise less than their wild counterparts, and as such, are prone to obesity. This is especially true of adult males and non-breeding females, either of which may consume more food than is necessary.

Feeding During Breeding Cycles

The dietary habits of snakes often change when they enter a breeding cycle. Adult male snakes frequently refuse food leading up to, or during, the breeding season. This trend can be exacerbated if the male can smell other rat snakes in the room. Adult females that are slated for breeding should have good body weight and be in excellent health. Many breeders increase the feeding frequency of female rat snakes prior to allowing them to breed.

Feeding and Winter Dormancy

Rat snakes in the wild undergo seasonal dormancy during the winter. Pet owners should maintain reasonably constant temperatures all year, and if this is done, many grey rat snakes will continue to remain active and eat. If, however, your snake begins refusing food in the fall, it is not cause for concern. This is a natural behavior, and as long as your snake is healthy, it should resume feeding in the spring. Consult your veterinarian and consider reducing the cage temperatures slightly if your snake shows signs of dormancy.


  • Ratsnake.org: Bites, Sub-species, Predation, Combat dance, Encounters and Life-cycle
  • Savannah River Ecology Laboratory: Rat Snake
  • Teamreptiles.co.uk: Team Reptiles Grey Rat Snake Care Sheet
  • US Forest Service: Ontogenetic Changes in the Foraging Behavior, Habitat Use and Food Habits of the Western Aquatic Garter Snake, Thamnophis couchii, at Hurdygurdy Creek, Del Norte County, California
  • Long Island Herpetological Society: Corn Snakes / Rat Snakes

What Baby Rat Snakes Eat — Let's See!

Rat snakes are common throughout all of North America and are famous for being both non-venomous and non-aggressive.

In fact, given their penchant for chomping down on rodents and insects, they’re usually a welcome ally for farmers who are trying to protect their crops from pests.

Their unique and useful feeding habits had me wondering about the diet of baby rat snakes. Rodents are not that always small, all things considered, so how does a baby rat snake keep itself fed?


Table of Contents

What Baby Rat Snakes Eat

Rat snakes feed on a variety of rodents, as well as on insects. However, baby and juvenile rat snakes cannot always manage the size of rodents, so they are more likely to feed on smaller, cold-blooded prey like frogs, lizards, and insects.


What Baby Rat Snakes Eat in the Wild

Rat snakes are constrictors, which means they squeeze their prey to death and eat it whole. And what’s more, they’re part arboreal, which means they’re able to climb trees.

They’re also excellent swimmers.

Together, these skills mean they can hunt in various spaces.

In the wild, because baby rat snakes cannot feast on larger prey like their parents, they will often make do with a smorgasbord of cold-blooded creatures, including frogs, toads, newts, and lizards.

They’re not crazy about insects, but juvenile rat snakes have been known to feed on moths, beetles, crickets, spiders, and caterpillars if they’re out of options.

If a baby rat snake comes across some small birds’ eggs, there’s a chance they may eat them, too.

In the wild, where there is an adapt-or-die mentality, rat snakes are less fussy about their food and more likely to eat what they need to survive, in relation to their size.


What Baby Rat Snakes Eat in Captivity

In captivity, it’s far easier to control what baby rat snakes eat, and breeders have a few different dietary options at their disposal from specialty pet stores.

Generally speaking, the easiest thing to feed baby rat snakes is pinky mice that are bought frozen and then thawed.

If they’re too big for your small snakes, you can cut them in half.

Feeding rat snakes pinky mice from a young age will get them used to this kind of prey early on, making them less inclined to turn into picky adults.

However, if your baby rat snakes aren’t interested in pinky mice, you can try feeding them insects or small reptiles.

Once they are bigger, you can try them on feeder chicks.


How to Feed Baby Rat Snakes in Captivity

When it comes to feeding baby rat snakes, the rule of thumb is that they should not be given any pieces bigger than the widest part of their bodies.

If you’re unsure, rather feed them plenty of smaller pieces than a few larger pieces.

Baby snakes usually like to eat about twice a week. A way to check if they’re ready for their next feed is to monitor their bathroom habits.

Once they’ve pooped, they’re up for their next meal.

A word of advice when feeding baby snakes is never to use your fingers, but instead to use tongs or tweezers. This way, they won’t associate you with food.

As a final note, baby snakes are more inclined to feed at temperatures between 80- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit (26- to 32-degrees Celsius), so try to maintain this climate in their enclosures.


Identifying Baby Rat Snakes

The term “rat snake” encompasses a huge number of different snakes of numerous genera. In terms of commonality, they are all medium or large constrictors that are non-venomous and predominantly hunt and feed on rodents.

Their docile and non-aggressive natures make them exceptionally popular pets, although some breeds can be a little feistier than others.

Regarding appearance, rat snakes have bright white or creamy yellow chins and differ in scale color depending on their species. Generally, they are variegated red, brown, grey, yellow, or black and white.

These remarkable creatures rattle their tales when they feel threatened in mimicry of their scarier cousin, the rattlesnake.

This adaptation developed as a means for them to warn off potential predators, including well-meaning humans.

This goes without saying, but no matter how sure you are that you’ve come across a rat snake, never approach it in the wild without a trained professional present.


Frequently Asked Questions about What Baby Rat Snakes Eat


When are baby rat snakes born?

Baby rat snakes are usually born either in early fall or late in summer. Their mums lay eggs about 5 to 7 weeks before this, usually in July. Once they are born, juvenile rat snakes will stay close to their families for about two years.


Are rat snakes dangerous to humans?

These relatively docile animals pose no threat to humans, as they are not venomous. Some species of rat snake can exert small amounts of venom, but not enough to cause any significant harm to a human being.


What are corn snakes?

Corn snakes are a type of rat snake. They’re among the most popular snake species to be kept as pets. They are lovely animals that are not aggressive, and they generally aren’t picky eaters either.



Rat snakes are a marvel of the natural world largely because of their symbiotic relationship with humans. They are the opposite of harmful.

In fact, they protect the food that’ll eventually end up on our dinner tables.

While they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the peaceful rat snake just goes to show that all snakes aren’t that bad. On the contrary, these guys are a very necessary part of our ecosystem.


Here are the most frequently asked questions and answers about corn snakes.
Gradually the topic will be replenished.

1. What is the best substrate for maize snake? - Napkins, coconut chips, large wood shavings (#5) and sphagnum are very good as a substrate, but it is better not to use fine soil like coconut chips.
2. What temperature should the corn snake dwell in? nine0005 - it is necessary to provide a background temperature within 24-26 degrees, and a warm-up point at which the temperature will be up to 32 degrees Celsius, while it is not desirable to drop the night temperature below 22 degrees.
3. How often should the corn snake be fed? - it depends on the age of the snake and the size of the prey, small maize snakes are fed with naked mice - 1 naked for every 5-7 days, then gradually transferred to larger food: velvet mice, pubescent, runners and adults. Accordingly: with age and a gradual increase in the food object, the snake needs to be fed less often: first every 7-10 days, then 2-3 times a month. nine0004 4. How often does the corn snake go to the toilet? - it depends on the size of the food object and temperature, the higher the temperature and the smaller the food object, the faster it is digested. Ideally - if the temperature is kept within the normal range, and the food object corresponds to the size of the snake - the snake goes to the toilet already 3-4 days after eating, but after that, after 2-3 days, he can go to the toilet again. Snakes that eat fluffy mice and chickens are the last to go to the toilet with the remnants of wool and feathers, since all this is not digested. nine0004 5. How often does the corn snake shed? - depends on temperature, feeding intensity and age of the snake. Small snakes molt more often than adults, on average once a month. Accordingly, the older the snake, the less often it sheds.
6. The snake had cloudy eyes, then it became bright again, but there is no shed skin anywhere, why? - because just before the molting process, the skin of snakes becomes thin, and the effect of white eyes disappears. If the snake has become bright again, then within a few days it will shed. It is advisable to provide it with sufficient moisture at these moments so that the skin comes off completely. nine0004 7. What is a wet chamber? And what is it for? - A wet chamber is any plastic container with a snake entry hole filled with a moisture-retaining substrate (such as sphagnum moss). A wet chamber is needed for snakes during the molting period.
8. What should I do if the corn snake burps? - if possible, you need to pass burps / feces / urine for analysis, then: the snake should not be fed for two weeks, and then give a smaller food object, previously with incisions or with skin removed. If the burping recurs, it is best to contact a specialist. nine0004 9. Is it necessary to bathe the corn snake? Why is he afraid to swim in the bathtub? - maize snake does not need to be specially bathed. There should always be a container of water in the terrarium, into which the snake can climb if he wants to bathe. Once in the water - especially in a deep bath, the snake is under great stress, since water is not his element. When bathing, the snakes will try to get out in a panic, and this will not give them any pleasure at all. But if your snake is smeared (which happens quite often) and smells bad, you can take it on your hand and wash it under a gentle stream of warm water. - such a procedure will be safer and more pleasant for the snake. nine0004 10. How many times a day should a corn snake terrarium be sprayed? - In nature, snakes occupy a fairly extensive range - from rocky terrain to fields and forests, and they rarely find themselves in conditions of high humidity. Therefore, it is not worth constantly spraying the dwelling, it is enough to have a large container of water and a humidity chamber for the time of molting. Although in the summer, when in some apartments the air can heat up and become dry, you can sprinkle a little, the main thing is that the moisture completely evaporates during the day. nine0004 11. Can corn snakes be kept in groups? is a fairly common question that cannot be answered with a single correct answer. The fact is that there were many cases when maize snakes ate each other: by accident (if they were fed in the same container and two grabbed the same food object) and on purpose, when hungry snakes ate each other. Also, if the snakes are kept in a group, and one of them burps, it is very difficult to understand which of them did it. And it also happened that one of the snakes burped, and the other ate his burp and also burped afterwards. These are sad cases that take place. But there are many others where people have been keeping snakes together since birth (most often same-sex groups), and all is well. Therefore, here each keeper chooses for himself what is more convenient for him. But I choose what is best for the snakes, and I have each in a separate cage, except for the breeding season. nine0004 12. What kind of terrarium does the maize snake need? - in general, maize snakes are very compact snakes, and a terrarium or cage 40 cm wide, 60 long and any height (from 20 cm) is suitable for keeping one individual. But you need to take into account the fact that small snakes cannot be planted immediately in a large volume, as this can lead to stress and refusal to feed. On average, maize snakes need to change their dwelling 3 times in their life - a small container - to a larger container - and then to an adult volume.
13. What kind of heating to use and do I need light? - for snakes, the presence of a light source is not so important, especially if they are in transparent terrariums or cages - it will still be light for snakes during the day. Therefore, maize snakes can be heated both with a lamp and with a thermal cord or rug. It is desirable that all electronics be outside the terrarium or cage. And the lamps installed inside - it is best to close the net from the snake, in order to avoid accidents.
14. Why does the little corn snake behave aggressively and bite? nine0005 - This behavior is due to the fact that small snakes feel in danger. If a small snake behaves aggressively, it is better to provide him with peace and a cozy shelter. Over time, he will get used to his home, different smells, and will stop being afraid and biting.
15. What to feed the corn snakes? - in nature, these snakes feed on everything that can get caught: mice, rat pups, lizards, eggs and small birds. So - it is quite possible to diversify the diet of your snake, alternating food objects, you can also occasionally give quail and other eggs (for example, finches eggs). If you want to pamper your snake with a lizard, then individuals caught in nature are not suitable for this - as they can be carriers of various infections and parasites. nine0004 16. Why won't the snake eat? is a very difficult question, as there is no single answer to it. The snake may not eat because: stress, not hungry, preparing to molt, something is wrong in the conditions of detention, pregnant, in rut, the food object smells of something else, from personal preference and due to illness. If the maize snake is in good shape and well-fed, then it can easily live without food for 2-3 months (adult), babies can starve for a month or a little more without consequences. nine0004 17. What are some ways to get a snake to eat? - try to give a live food object, or something else (for example, a hamster), do not feed for a month and offer food after a hunger strike, or take tests and see if everything is in order with the snake. But it also happens that a healthy and apparently normal snake does not eat from birth - then they resort to force feeding. This is a rather complicated process, which is resorted to only in the most EXTREME cases!
18. How can you find out the age of a snake? nine0005 - this issue is also controversial, no one will surely be able to determine the age of the maize snake by appearance, if it is not quite old and decrepit. Therefore, you need to be interested in the age of breeders and sellers. But this does not always help. Since the seller may not know the age of the snake, and the breeder may deceive and sell a tightened individual that was forcibly fed, like a newborn or young snake.
19. What determines the size of the corn snake? What should be a snake at a certain age? nine0005 - the size depends on the frequency of feeding, housing conditions, the size of the food object and the state of health. On average, the length of an adult maize snake is about 150 cm, but there are exceptions: dwarfs (up to a meter or a little more than a meter) and giants (up to two meters). Therefore, it is impossible to say what size a snake should be at a certain age.
20. How can I find out the sex of a snake? - if you need it for sure, there are two ways: probing and extrusion. When probing, a probe is inserted into the genital opening (in the direction of the tail), and when squeezed out of the tail, the genitals are squeezed out. But even these two methods cannot give a hundred percent guarantee. Foreign colleagues even have such a saying: you can’t know for sure the sex of a snake until it gives birth. nine0004 21. Do corn snakes need hibernation? - if you are not going to breed your snakes, then hibernation is also optional. Since this is a rather complicated process, and if done incorrectly, the snake can get sick or even die.
22. Can snakes mate without hibernation? And will it lead to offspring? - yes, maize snakes mate without hibernation. And such pairings are productive.
23. How do you know if a snake is pregnant or not? - if you caught the moment of mating, then you can expect the female to be pregnant. But it is possible to say for sure whether she is pregnant or not only before the start of the laying itself, when the eggs descend to the tail and are very clearly visible. And so - the behavior of pregnant females can be very different: from aggression and refusal to eat, to the most common behavior, with normal nutrition and molting. nine0004 24. Do corn snakes bite? - yes, they bite, like all snakes. Although they are poisonous, they have teeth. So - it can bite, sometimes it even hurts.
25. Do females and males differ in character or size? - no one can say for sure about this, there is an opinion that females are more aggressive (especially during pregnancy), but there are no statistics, therefore, it is impossible to say something. It is the same with size: there are huge females and small males, and it happens vice versa. Everything is purely individual. nine0004 26. Is it safe to use thermal mats and cords if the skid is contained in a container? Doesn't he melt down? - will not melt, the temperature of the cord is too low to melt the plastic, usually the cord is heated to 35 degrees Celsius.
27. Does the corn snake need a UV lamp? - no, maize snakes live well even without ultraviolet radiation. But if you want - in the summer you can take them out for a walk under the sun.
28. What should I do if the corn snake has escaped? - you need to limit his movement as much as possible so that he does not crawl out of the room or apartment and carefully search the entire area where he could get lost. No ways like: arrange bowls with water, leave the mouse, etc. - may not help, especially when it comes to laces. As an option, you can spread the rustling packages around the room and listen to the sounds in the dark at night. But the best advice is not to let the snake escape, always close the terrarium and make sure that it cannot be opened from the inside. nine0004 29. Mais goes to the toilet watery, like birds – is that normal? What to do? - corn stool and should be liquidish, this is their "zest". The main thing is that it does not smell of bile, and there are no mucous green secretions.
30. Is it possible to decorate the dwelling of the maize snake with plants? And what? - it is possible, then of course it is, but is it necessary? Corn snakes are very active in nature, they dig and climb - and the plants are likely to be dug up and broken, as well as soiled in feces. And also - due to the fact that snakes go to the toilet quite often, plants and extra decorations in the terrarium will interfere with cleaning. nine0004 31. What morph is best for my snake so that interesting babies are born? - the corn snake genetics calculator answers this question perfectly and with pictures: http://www.reptilecalculator.com/corn-snake-morph-calculator/ and in general: corn snake genetics is one of the reasons why people have these snakes. So - do not be afraid to learn new things, genetics is not so difficult, but very interesting and exciting!

Okeetee maize snake

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Okeetee corn snake

Code: 003645

Latin: Pantherophis guttatus
Size (cm): 30

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2906 Okeetee maize snake
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Taking its name from the corn granaries, which attracted mice and later these predators, the corn snake is an excellent pet. It is generally docile, relatively easy to care for, and does not grow very large; this is a great choice, especially for beginner snake owners. However, these reptiles are also a favorite of even experienced owners due to the many beautiful colors and patterns that have been bred in captivity. Closely related to rat snakes (as cousins ​​in the genus Elaphe), corn snakes are sometimes referred to as red rat snakes. They are native to the southeastern United States, mostly land-dwelling, and active mostly at dusk and dawn. These reserved snakes allow people to handle them and are generally docile. But when they feel threatened, especially in the wild, they can vibrate their tails as a defense mechanism, similar to rattlesnakes. nine0006

Like most snakes, corn and rat snakes are consummate escape artists. They will push the lid with their nose looking for weak spots and tiny holes, so the fit of the lid is very important. If the snake gets out of the cage, it may get lost or injured. An escaped snake can also scare your guests. The 45x45 cm glass terrarium is the right size for a corn snake. It is important to use a securely closing lid that can be clamped on top.

Corn snakes need to hide to feel safe. Provide a shelter (any closed container, such as an overturned cardboard box) large enough for the snake to curl up in; if it is too big, the snake will not feel safe. Pieces of bark can also provide a hiding place for your snake if they are on a substrate that allows them to hide under the bark. Ideally, there should be a place to hide in both the cooler and warmer part of the hull. Also prepare a forked branch for climbing. Maintaining the correct temperature in your corn snake's home is vital. An overhead incandescent light is the preferred method of heating, but corn snakes come from temperate climates so they don't need tropical temperatures. Maintain ambient temperature between 26 and 29C. The bathing area should be between 29 and 32 C. At night, the temperature should only drop to 23 C. Heating pads or heat tape can be used under the tank, but they can make it difficult to see how hot the case is, so use thermometers inside. Fortunately, corn snakes prefer the humidity found in a normal household. 40 to 50 percent is a good range for ambient air in the hull, up to 60 percent will promote healthy shedding. Monitor your corn snake enclosure with a hygrometer, especially during the dry winter months; you may need to spray the tank more frequently or refill the evaporative water tank. Corn snakes are carnivores. In the wild, they follow their prey primarily by smell rather than by sight.

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