Are There Vegetarian Snakes? A Quick Guide for Vegan Pet Owners

The world of snakes often conjures images of fierce predators, known for their carnivorous appetites and remarkable hunting skills. 

However, some pet owners might wonder: Are there vegetarian snakes? And can a pet snake be sustained on a vegetarian diet?

There are no vegetarian snakes, as snakes primarily rely on a meat-based diet for survival, which includes small rodents, birds, and reptiles. However, some snakes may forego rodents like mice and rats in favor of insects. Additionally, there are ovo-vegetarian snakes that exclusively consume eggs. 

Keep reading to learn more about what snakes normally eat and whether you can feed snakes a vegetarian diet.

Are There Vegetarian Snakes?

a photo of a snake eating to are there vegetarian snakes

While there are snakes with varied diets, it is important to note that there are no truly vegetarian snakes. 

Snakes are classified as obligate carnivores, meaning their bodies are adapted to digest and extract nutrients from animal-based foods. Their physiological traits, such as a short digestive tract and specialized enzymes, reflect their evolutionary dependence on a meat-based diet.

Moreover, their bodies need essential nutrients like proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, which are predominantly found in animal tissues. These nutrients are crucial for maintaining their muscular strength, organ function, and metabolic processes to sustain their growth, energy levels, and overall health.

While some snakes may exhibit preferences for certain prey items, such as insects or eggs, it’s important to note that these snakes are still consuming animal-based products. These instances do not make them true vegetarians, as they rely on animal-derived nutrients for survival.

What Do Snakes Normally Eat?

Snakes are carnivorous creatures with diverse diets, and their specific food choices depend on factors such as their size, habitat, and species. The majority of snakes consume a wide range of prey, including:

  1. Small mammals: Many snakes feed on rodents such as mice, rats, and voles. These small mammals are a common food source for snakes, especially those in captivity.
  2. Birds: Snakes that inhabit areas with avian populations may prey on birds, including chicks and eggs. They may hunt on the ground, in trees, or even in bird nests.
  3. Reptiles: Snakes have been known to devour other reptiles, including lizards, smaller snakes, and even turtle eggs. Some larger species may consume venomous snakes as part of their diet.
  4. Amphibians: Snakes are opportunistic feeders and often target amphibians such as frogs, toads, and newts. They are especially adept at capturing amphibian prey in aquatic or semi-aquatic environments.
  5. Fish: Semi-aquatic or aquatic snake species are adapted to catch and consume fish. They employ specialized hunting techniques and have streamlined bodies for efficient movement in the water.
  6. Invertebrates: Certain smaller snake species, such as garter snakes, may feed on invertebrates like earthworms, slugs, and insects. These snakes often supplement their diets with a variety of prey items.

It’s important to note that not all snakes have the same dietary preferences, and their food choices may vary based on availability and adaptability to their surroundings. 

Additionally, some larger snake species may consume larger prey, including deer, pigs, or even other predators. If you plan on keeping a snake as a pet, it’s crucial that you understand its natural diet to maintain its health and provide appropriate care.

Can You Feed Your Pet Snake A Vegetarian Diet?

It is not advisable to feed a pet snake a vegetarian diet. As mentioned before, snakes are obligate carnivores, which means they have specific nutritional requirements that can only be met through a meat-based diet. 

Attempting to feed a snake a vegetarian diet can have detrimental effects on its health. Without the essential nutrients found in their natural prey, snakes may suffer from malnutrition, stunted growth, weakened immune systems, and even premature death. Their bodies simply cannot thrive or meet their nutritional needs without consuming animal matter.

It’s crucial to prioritize the health and natural dietary needs of your pet snake by providing them with a suitable diet of appropriately sized and species-appropriate prey items. 

Is It Ethical for Vegans to Keep Pet Snakes?

The ethical considerations of vegans keeping pet snakes can be subjective and depend on individual beliefs and values. While veganism typically involves avoiding the exploitation and harm of animals, the decision to keep a pet snake can be a topic of debate within the vegan community.

Some vegans may argue that keeping snakes as pets contradicts the principles of veganism because it involves confining and controlling a wild animal for human enjoyment. Additionally, sourcing appropriate prey for the snake’s carnivorous diet can involve the exploitation and death of other animals, which conflicts with the ethical stance of veganism.

On the other hand, some vegans may argue that responsibly caring for a pet snake can align with vegan principles. They may argue that providing proper care, enrichment, and a safe environment for a snake that was bred in captivity or rescued can be a form of animal welfare. 

They may also argue that supporting the conservation and education efforts associated with responsible snake ownership can be seen as positive contributions to animal welfare and the natural world.

Ultimately, the ethical decision to keep a pet snake as a vegan should be carefully considered and based on personal values and circumstances. 

It is important to thoroughly research the specific needs of snakes and ensure that their care aligns with both the welfare of the individual snake and the broader principles of veganism. You can also consult with other vegans, animal welfare organizations, and reptile experts who can help inform the decision-making process.

What Are Some Vegan-friendly Snakes (That Don’t Eat Mice or Rats)?

While it is important to note that there are no truly vegetarian snakes, there are certain snake species that have dietary preferences that do not primarily consist of mice or rats. 

Here are a few examples:

  • Insectivorous Snakes: Some snake species have a diet primarily composed of insects. For example, garter snakes (Thamnophis spp.) are known to consume earthworms, slugs, and various insects. They can be a suitable option for individuals seeking a snake with a more insect-based diet.
  • Egg-eating Snakes: There are snake species that have adapted to feed exclusively on eggs. These snakes, such as the African egg-eating snake (Dasypeltis spp.), possess specialized jaw structures that allow them to swallow whole bird eggs. While they do not consume rodents, they still rely on animal-derived nutrition.

It is crucial to emphasize that even these snakes require specific care and an appropriate diet. So, make sure to consult with reptile experts or herpetologists who can offer valuable guidance regarding the specific requirements of these snake species.

Other Pet Reptiles for Vegans to Keep

For vegans interested in keeping pet reptiles, there are several non-snake options that can be considered. These reptiles have dietary preferences that align more closely with a vegan lifestyle. 

Here are a few examples:

  • Herbivorous or Omnivorous Lizards: Many species of lizards have a primarily herbivorous or omnivorous diet, consuming a variety of plant matter along with some insects or invertebrates.
    • Examples include herbivorous iguanas, such as the green iguana (Iguana iguana), and omnivorous bearded dragons (Pogona spp.). These reptiles can be fed a plant-based diet with a supplementary source of insects or invertebrates.
  • Tortoises: Tortoises are primarily herbivorous reptiles that consume a diet consisting of various leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits.
    • Species like the sulcata tortoise (Geochelone sulcata) and the Russian tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii) can be suitable choices for vegans.
  • Geckos: Some species of geckos have omnivorous or herbivorous tendencies.
    • Crested geckos (Correlophus ciliatus) and gargoyle geckos (Rhacodactylus auriculatus) are examples of geckos that can be fed a primarily fruit-based diet along with occasional insect supplementation.
  • Skinks: Certain skink species, such as the blue-tongued skink (Tiliqua spp.), have omnivorous diets. They consume a combination of plant matter, fruits, vegetables, and invertebrates.

Remember that each species has specific care requirements, and thorough research is crucial to provide proper husbandry and a suitable environment for these reptiles. 


In conclusion, the biological makeup and dietary requirements of snakes categorize them as obligate carnivores. While some snakes may display preferences for specific prey items, there are no snakes that can survive solely on a vegetarian diet. 

Feeding a snake anything other than an appropriate meat-based diet would compromise its health and well-being. So, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian or reptile specialist to ensure that you are offering the best possible diet for your pet snake’s specific needs.

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