Contrary to popular belief, not all snakes eat eggs. While all snakes are carnivores, their diet largely depends on their environment. But, some snakes also live only on eggs.
The egg preference of the snake depends on its species. Though snakes belong to the same kind of animals, they did not evolve in the same way. Their anatomy also varies, and some snakes do not have a mouth big enough to eat an egg.
Most snakes who eat eggs are arboral, meaning they live their lives in trees, where they can raid bird nests at night.
List of Snakes that Eat Eggs
There are over 3,000 species of snakes in the world, and many of them eat eggs. Below is a list of the most common snakes known to man that eat eggs.
1. Black Racers (Coluber constrictor)
Also called the Eastern Racer, this species does not have venom and is endemic to North and Central America. Sometimes, people call them Eastern Racers. They move fast, and they eat insects, young birds, crickets, and moths. Black racers are the fastest snakes in the United States.
2. Coachwhips (Masticophis flagellum)
Coachwhips are opportunistic eaters but also aggressive hunters. They’re known for being incredibly fast snakes that hunt down their prey. But they’ll also raid bird nests when they get the chance. They’re primarily found throughout Texas.
See Also: 10 Snakes that Eat Birds
3. Corn Snakes (Elaphe guttata)
The corn snake got its name from its corn-like pattern. Many times, they are mistaken for a copperhead. As such, people kill them, which is bad. Corn snakes are beneficial to the environment as they eat pests and rodents.
Related: What do Corn Snakes Eat?
4. Egg-Eating Snake (Colubrinae dasypeltis)
The egg-eating snakes is genus of snake found throughout Africa who specializes in eating eggs (hence the name). In fact, they are believed to exclusively eat eggs by raiding the nests of birds. It’s a small enough snake that it gets sufficient sustenance from bird eggs.
5. Fox Snakes (Elaphe vulpinus)
The fox snake is a non-venomous colubrid that is endemic to North America. These snakes can grow up to six feet, and they eat rabbits, frogs, and small birds. When raiding bird nests, they will eat both chicks and unhatched eggs.
6. Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis)
Garter snakes are the most common snakes to be found throughout North America, particularly in northern states. They’re not harmful to humans, but they do eat rodents, lizards, and of course eggs. Garter snakes that live around water are also known to eat fish eggs.
Read More: What do Garter Snakes Eat?
7. Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum)
Milk snakes used to be thought to be a breed of kingsnake, but are now believed to be their own species. Their name comes from an old wives’ tale that they drink cow milk. However, the truth is they simply hang around cow barns to eat rodents that frequent the area. They also, of course, eat bird eggs when they can.
Read More: What do Milk Snakes Eat?
8. Pine Snakes (Pituophis melanoleucus)
A non-venomous colubrid, the pine snake has three subspecies. They eat rats, small mammals, and moles. They are not afraid to enter a rodent’s nest to hunt. They’re found throughout the south of the United States as well as up through the Apalacia and eastern states.
9. Rat Snakes (Elaphe obsolete)
The rat snake is a member of the sub-family Colubrinae; it is the same family as milk snakes and indigo snakes. They like eating rats in rice fields, which is where they get their name. However, rat snakes also habitually raid bird nests for eggs.
Related: What do Rat Snakes Eat?
10. Scarlet Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis elapsoides)
The scarlet kingsnake, like related kingsnakes and milk snakes, likes to eat other snakes, but also raids nests to eat eggs. People living in the South of the United States might recognize the scarlet kingsnake because it regularly makes its way into backyard pools.
Related: What do King Snakes Eat?
11. Speckled Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula)
The speckled kingsnake is a non-venomous snake, and its main diet is snakes, including venomous ones. It belongs to the family of kingsnakes, but this particular species has speckles instead of the typical bands that kingsnakes have.
Do All Snakes Eat Chicken Eggs?
No, not all snakes eat chicken eggs. The ones that do this are often called the “chicken snake.” Technically, the chicken snake is a rat snake, which has a lot of other subspecies.
Farmers called them chicken snakes because they are often seen in chicken coops. While they may not be big enough to eat the chickens, they certainly like eating chicken eggs. However, they mainly feed on rodents, not chicken eggs.
Other species of snakes eat eggs like the kingsnake, black snake, and milk snakes.
Snakes that Don’t Eat Eggs
There are several species of snake that don’t eat eggs. Primary among them are Pythons, Boas, and Rattlesnakes.
Pythons and boas do not eat eggs because the eggs are too small to provide them with nutrition. This is surprising, given that pythons and boas are both arboral snakes (they spend their time in trees). However, if there is nothing else, constrictors like pythons will still eat eggs.
Related: What do Boas Eat?
What Kind of Eggs do Snakes Eat?
Snakes that eat eggs will eat just about any kind of egg. Their choices, however, depend on the egg size and how accessible the eggs are.
The snake size is also a factor. Many snakes cannot eat eggs the size of a chicken’s egg because they are too big to fit in their mouths. To feed them, one must get quail eggs or eggs of similar size.
In captivity, pet snake owners prefer feeder eggs from canary and other small birds. In the wild, snakes would eat the eggs of owls and other birds. Some pythons stalk the eggs of a crocodile and eat them.
Do Poisonous Snakes Eat Eggs?
Yes, and one example of this is the cottonmouth. Also called the water moccasin, it is part of the viper family, and it is venomous.
The cottonmouth can grow up to 48 inches or four feet. Although its size is only mid-range, it can fit eggs in its mouth.
It is unusual for venomous snakes to eat eggs, but they do. However, they have venom, so they prefer to attack rodents and mammals. They stalk and ambush. If their strike is successful, they will wait for the prey to die and then eat.
Will Snakes Eat Unfertilized Chicken Eggs?
Yes, snakes that eat eggs will accept unfertilized chicken eggs. However, pet owners observed that snakes generally prefer fresh eggs. It takes some preparation to do this. Some snakes refuse eggs that have already been refrigerated.
What Snakes Only Eat Eggs?
There are two main groups of snakes that feed only on eggs. These are the Dasypeltis, which is found in Africa, and the second one, the Indian egg-eating snake (Elachistodon westermanni).
This snake is a genus of colubrid. It is a constrictor and has adapted to live on eggs only exclusively. They are not venomous and are found in Africa. They live primarily in forested habitats.
2. Indian Egg-Eating Snake
This one is a rare species that is also part of the colubrid family. They are endemic to India, and people sometimes refer to them as the Westermann’s snake.
Out of these two, the Dasypeltis is the preferred pet. They are not endangered, and they come in different colorations.
Summary: Snakes That Eat Eggs
Not all snakes eat eggs. Some do, and some snakes evolved to eat nothing but eggs. Big snakes typically do not eat eggs of other animals are available.
Snakes that eat eggs are often mid-sized. They need mouths big enough to swallow the egg. In captivity, some snakes are picky eaters. While they would eat unfertilized chicken eggs, they prefer the eggs fresh and may refuse refrigerated ones.
Many snakes are opportunistic hunters in the wild, and it is rare to see snakes that would not eat eggs if food were scarce.
Although these snakes eat eggs, it does not mean that they solely survive through eggs. As carnivores, snakes must get various nutrients from their diet. Only a few types of snakes eat only eggs as their main food source.
Generally speaking, eggs are not enough to sustain the physical needs of a snake. However, some snakes have evolved to eat only eggs. Of course, these snakes that feed exclusively on eggs live in a habitat that has an active and thriving ecosystem.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.