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What Do King Snakes Eat?

King Snakes eat other snakes, lizards, frogs, rats and mice, some turtles, and birds. King Snakes also eat eggs and even other King Snakes.

what do king snakes eat

What makes a King Snake scary is that it even eats other venomous snakes, such as rattlesnakes and copperheads. They are ophiophagous in diet. It means they have a specialized form of feeding where they hunt and eat other snakes.  

King Snake Diet

The foods that King Snakes eat vary according to their location. They are non-venomous snakes that kill by constriction, like the python and rat snakes. King Snakes are opportunistic. As such, they hunt a variety of other animals.

1. Other Snakes

King Snakes are ophiophagous animals. They hunt and eat other snakes. They even eat other king snakes, making them carnivorous.

They are immune to the venom of other snakes, like the rattlesnake, so they can hunt them down and eat them. This, however, does not mean that it is immune to snake venom from other countries or areas.  

2. Lizards

King Snakes in captivity are crepuscular. What this means is that they are active at dawn and dusk. In the wild, they are semi-arboreal. What this means is that they are ground dwellers. However, they can also climb trees. From time to time, a King Snake will climb trees if it senses a lizard up there.

3. Rodents

California King Snakes typically eat rats and mice in the wild. Those in captivity will not have problems eating the same. Pet owners typically feed their snakes this kind of diet, with some bonus treats on some occasions.

Rats and mice are capable of fighting back. As such, no one advises a per owner to do live feeding of rats to pet King Snakes. It is always better to feed dead mice to pet snakes, regardless of the kind.

4. Birds and Turtles

King Snakes also eat birds, provided they are available. In wet climates, King Snakes will prey on turtles and other cold-blooded animals such as frogs. Since King Snakes can climb trees, they can ambush birds. In captivity, King Snakes would eat quails and chicks with no hesitation.

5. Eggs

King Snakes also eat eggs. If they are in a wetland or in a rainforest, there is an abundance of eggs in the area, especially during the mating season of specific animals.

As far as eggs are concerned, King Snakes do not have preferences. They will eat any egg that they find, provided they are hungry. In captivity, it is not unusual for pet owners to feed them sparrow eggs.

King Snakes swallow these eggs whole. They do not crush the eggs, despite having teeth. Snake teeth are not meant for chewing but for pulling food back to their throats.

FAQs

Do King Snakes Eat Other Snakes?

Yes, they do. King Snakes have an ophiophagous diet. What this means is that they actively seek other snakes and eat them. A King Snake is also believed to be cannibalistic. What this means is that they will eat their own kind—their fellow King Snakes!

Do King Snakes Eat Rattlesnakes?

Yes, they eat rattlesnakes. There is a video from Discovery Channel where a King Snake tracked a rattlesnake. The King Snake was 1.2 meters long and was significantly thinner than the rattlesnake:

The King Snake is protected from the venom of a rattlesnake by a complex set of proteins in its body. In the video, the fight did not last long. The King Snake bit the head of the rattlesnake and started swallowing while it was still alive.

Do King Snakes Eat Copperheads?

Yes, King Snakes eat copperheads. Like the rattlesnake, a copperhead is venomous, but a King Snake uses a special technique.

When a King Snake attacks a venomous snake, it bits the jaws of the victim, thus preventing it from biting back. As the King Snake crushes the jaws of the copperhead, it will also begin to swallow.

What happens is that the snake victim is asphyxiated. With its head inside the King Snake’s throat, it cannot move and will eventually die of suffocation.

Do King Snakes Eat Chickens?

Most King Snakes will not eat chickens, as they might be too big for them. However, it only takes an appropriately sized King Snake to make an attack. Chickens are birds, and King Snake will still consider them in the menu.

Do King Snakes Eat Cats?

It is not likely. King Snakes are small constrictors. In the world of constrictors, the python is the more likely candidate to eat a cat. A 13-foot python can attack a house pet if it sees one.

King Snakes only grow to five feet. While this length is enough to constrict a cat, the King Snake does not have a wide mouth as anacondas and pythons do.

Do King Snakes Eat Eggs?

Yes, they eat eggs. Curiously enough, they may hang around a chicken coop but not eat the chickens. Instead, they would target the eggs when the chickens are not around. Since the chickens can peck at them, they would rather stay away.

King Snakes are not venomous, so they have no power over prey that fights back. Although they can easily constrict a chicken, it is a waste of energy.

They would rather wait and eat the eggs when the mother hen is not around. Otherwise, the tables might turn, and it is the chicken that would eat the King Snake.

Conclusion

King Snakes are non-venomous constrictors. Their diet comprises mostly of eggs, rats, birds, lizards, and other snakes. Some species of King Snakes are immune to the venom of pit vipers. As such, they would actively hunt these pit vipers and eat them.

King Snakes in captivity are crepuscular. They are active during dusk and dawn, so pet owners would do well feeding them at this time. They can also thrive on mice alone, but it is best that they get treats like birds on some occasions.