Caring for Egg Eating snakes - fascinating reptile with very unique feeding habits
By Mike Biernacki
Egg eating is not a unique with snakes. Many snakes are opportunistic feeders and if they find nest of appropriately sized eggs, they may make it a meal out of them. Many rat snakes, bull snakes and pine snakes have included eggs in their natural diet. There are also snakes that specialize in eating eggs as their only source of food. They are known as Egg Eating Snakes. Best known are several species of snakes from genus Dasypeltis, commonly occurring through Sub-Saharan Africa. Most common is Dasypeltis scabra aka Rhombic or Common Egg Eater. This snake can be very easy to care or very challenging, depending on your choice of food. Housing a snake is not particularly difficult. Requires medium size enclosure designed for savannah type biotope with some climbing branches. Dried up leaves on the bottom would provide hiding places. Snake needs to have also a humid hideaway and bowl with water. Humidity needs to be low - 40-60%. Those snakes can be shy and nervous but generally are placid and not aggressive. As adaptation to eating eggs, egg eaters have no teeth. Or actually their teeth are reduced to the point they are not detectable. So, where is the challenge in keeping them? If you want to observe the fascinating process of egg being devoured, you need appropriately sized eggs to feed your snake, that may be a big challenge to get. Snakes only eat a content of the egg, regurgitating uneaten shells, so if we could find the way to deliver content of the egg, we wouldn't need to worry about package it comes in.
We do it with the use of syringe and special safe tip needle that we got from our veterinarian. I am inquiring into securing several for a re-sale. For larger snakes , specialty syringes are available for hand feeding baby birds. Those I have seen from suppliers that provide bird accessories. In a pinch you can use plastic dropper available from dollar store, just like one pictured in the middle between syringes.
Dispensing appropriate amount of food is easy, once you have a proper equipment. If you want to observe the natural feeding by this fascinating snake, you should find source of eggs that is a right size for your animal. For specimens that are past baby size, finch eggs may be appropriate, for bigger snakes button quail eggs are good choice or regular quail eggs are alternative for fully grown snakes. If you think of keeping Egg Eating Snakes, it is very important that you have a good plan how to provide home and, most importantly, food for your new pet. Source of eggs or specialty syringe needle would be essential to secure BEFORE ordering your new pet. Once you resolve that issue, keeping and carrying for your snake is relatively easy. Egg eaters are this type of snake, that does not require you to procure live or frozen rodents - big thing if other members of the household do not to want to share their freezer with your snake food! They are docile and have no teeth to harm others Grow to manageable sizes that do not need large enclosures to house them. Can go for a long periods without getting any food - a good feature if you need to leave for some time and not worry about feeding your pet when you are gone. (this does not apply to other snakes, egg eaters in natural habitat feed only during bird nesting season, they eat a lot in short period of time, but can go without food for quite a time until next season starts) Negative aspects include fact that they are nocturnal and usually are active at night and of course entire feeding process, when you either need to assist feed your snake or find source of eggs for it. If you can overcome feeding issues, you can enjoy this very unique and unusual snake, that is quite rare in collections.
We currently have two species of Egg Eating Snakes at the time this blog is being written (April 2021). Top of the page depicts Common Egg Eating Snake and to the right, we have Central African Egg Eating Snake (Dasypeltis fasciata).