Most snakes eat insects when they are young, before they are large enough to digest larger prey. Some small species continue to eat insects into adulthood, but most snakes move on to eating mice and other small animals as they mature.
Even large snakes like pythons eat insects when they are babies. Snakes are carnivorous, and their exact diet largely depends on their habitat. Since there are insects everywhere on earth, it’s safe to assume every snake eats insects, either as a juvenile or an adult.
One notable exception is sea snakes, which eat small fish and aquatic invertebrates instead.
Do Snakes Eat Insects?
Terrestrial snakes eat insects, but larger snake species only do it as babies. As they get older, it does not make sense to hunt for such a small prey.
Like many predators, snakes have an instinctual need to conserve energy. They want to hunt large animals, have a hearty meal, and then metabolize the food for some weeks or even months.
If you want to know more about the types of insects snakes eat, read our other article: Do Snakes Eat Bugs and Insects?
List of Snakes That Eat Insects
1. Corn Snake
Corn snakes eat insects when they are young, including ants and centipedes.
A corn snake does not eat corn as many people may mistakenly believe. No snake eats plant matter. It is called that way because it has corn-shaped patterns.
They also eat ants and centipedes. As they grow older, they no longer get the nutritional value they need from insects.
They now need bigger food like mice and rats. In captivity, the owner can give earthworms and crickets to a young corn snake.
Related Article: 18 Snakes That Burrow
2. Flowerpot Snake
Flowerpot snakes eat termites, ants, termite eggs, other insect larvae, and pupae.
The flowerpot snake looks like a worm. People call the snake flowerpot because that is where they usually live. A flowerpot has an ecology, and the snake can survive in the pot.
It is about as thick as a shoelace, and it can grow up to 15 centimeters. The flowerpot snake is not venomous and has many other sub-species.
3. Garter Snake
Garter snakes mostly eat rodents and other small animals, but they can also eat insects, tadpoles, earthworks, and even slugs.
The garter snake has a venom that is not dangerous to humans. They are semi-aquatic, so they also ear fish and minnows.
Sometimes, they also eat eggs. If kept as a pet, the garter cannot thrive on insects alone. The owner must feed it a balanced diet.
Read More: What Do Garter Snakes Eat?
4. Milk Snake
Milk snakes eat insects when they are young. Once they mature, they start hunting for mice and amphibians. They also eat other reptiles and eat eggs.
The milk snake is a type of kingsnake. It feeds on other snakes. It is one favorite of pet enthusiasts because of its vibrant color. They are also docile and easy to handle.
Related Article: Do Snakes Feel Pain?
While pythons are large snakes, hatchlings are only between 10 and 17 inches long. Young pythons will eat insects until they are big enough to start digesting small rodents.
Because of their small size, they eat insects when they are babies. They do this only in the wild. In captivity, owners do not feed snakes insects. Typically, they feed their baby python small mice.
Related Article: 5 Snakes That Can Move Sideways
6. Ribbon Snakes
Ribbon snakes eat crickets earthworms, nightcrawlers, tadpoles, and guppies.
Ribbon snakes are great pets because they are docile, and are similar to garter snakes. In fact, people often confuse the two species.
Despite their diet, pet owners can occasionally feed them frogs. There are other species of ribbon snake, and many of them can only grow up to 28 inches.
This snake is under protection in the state of Georgia, even if they are common in the US.
Related Article: Can you eat a Poisonous Snake?
7. Rosy Boa
Rosy boas eat insects, but only when they are young. No adult boa would waste its time with such a small meal.
A baby rosy boa eats insects in the wild because it cannot attack bigger animals.
It is a small species of boa that can only grow up to 34 inches. As they get older, they will begin eating mammals, birds, rats, and other snakes. Rosy boas are slow, but they attack insects and other prey at surprising speed.
Related Article: 16 Nasty Snakes That Spit Venom
8. Rough Green Snake
The rough green snake eats insects and vertebrates, and they do not eat rodents. Their diet in the wild consists of caterpillars, spiders, moths, and crickets. They also eat beetle larvae, frogs, and lizards.
The rough green snake loves vegetation. It lives in the mountains, and it is arboreal. Therefore, it likes to stay on trees. As such, it has access to caterpillars and moths. From time to time, they will eat a wandering frog.
9. Smooth Green Snake
The smooth green snake eats many insects including ants, spineless caterpillars, spiders, moths, beetle larvae, and crickets.
Some people call this the grass snake. The species is mainly seen in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. It is non-venomous, and it is one pet that experts often recommend to new pet snake owners.
The grass snake or smooth green snake seldom bites and is usually shy, choosing to flee when it feels threatened.
Related Article: Are Snakes Amphibians?
10. Water Snakes
Water snakes do not live in the water but in areas close to it. They hunt for fish and frogs, but they will also eat insects and worms if they see an opportunity.
They can eat any animal in their environment, provided that the animal fits in its mouth.
Small water snakes feed in insects and worms. It is only once they get big that they venture to find bigger animals. Water snakes are colubrids, and they can grow up to 4.5 feet.
11. Worm Snakes
Worm snakes eat earthworms and insects that they find in the soil as they burrow.
Worm snakes are small creatures that grow to only 13 inches in length. They are typically light brown, but they have pink to white bellies.
They are found in the eastern US and are fossorial, meaning they live underground or under debris like logs or leaves.
Are There Snakes That Only Eat Insects?
There are lots of snakes that eat insects, but snakes aren’t insectivores. As they mature, they move on to larger prey like rodents and other small animals.
When they are small, snakes hunt for crickets, grasshoppers, bugs, and other insects, but as they grow they move on to more substantial prey.
- Are Snakes Secondary Consumers?
- Do Snakes Eat Plants, Fruits, and Vegetables?
- Do Snakes Eat Grasshoppers?
- Do Snakes Eat Frogs?
- Do Snakes Drink Milk?
- Do Snakes Eat Birds?
- Do Snakes Eat Grass?
- Are Snakes Carnivores?
- Do Snakes Eat Berries?
- What do Boa Constrictors Eat?
- Do Snakes Eat Spiders?
- 11 Snakes That Eat Insects
- What do King Snakes Eat?
- What Eats Snakes?
- 13 Snakes that Eat Other Snakes
- Do Snakes Eat Bugs and Insects?
- Can Snakes Choke when Eating?
- What do Rat Snakes Eat?
- What do Garter Snakes Eat?
- What do Gopher Snakes Eat?
- What do Vipers Eat?
- Do Snakes Eat Lizards?
- Do Snakes Eat Ducks?
- 11 Snakes That Eat Fish
Can Any Insects Eat Snakes?
Some ferocious insects can eat snakes, especially young snakes. One example is the praying mantis, which can hold snakes in place with its powerful grip and eat them alive.
A praying mantis has a powerful grip. It is so powerful that it even eats birds and mice.
A praying mantis can take down a snake if it catches it unaware. The mantis grips the snake’s head, and the snake cannot move. A mantis will then eat the snake while it is still alive.
Snakes eat insects when they are young. While there are snakes that do not eat rodents, it does not mean that the snake is an insectivore. When people talk of insectivorous snakes, they make it sound like the snake has no other diet but insects, which is not true.
Snakes need a lot of proteins and vitamins and minerals, which they can only get from bigger animals, not just insects. In captivity, there are snakes that will not take rodents, but the owners must feed them other animals like snakes, fish, and frogs.
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.