Egg-eating Snake

By Snaketracks / February 17, 2020
Egg Eating Snake
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Egg-eating Snake Care Sheet

The Egg-eating snake is a unique, distinctive snake known for surviving on a diet of bird eggs solely. They may be the closest thing you can get to owning a vegetarian reptile. Well, not really; just sort of.

The egg-eating snake is described as having a nice, calm nature, So if you are looking to own a snake, the egg-eating snake would be a good friendly option for a pet reptile.

Quick Reference Section

  • Experience level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific name: Dasypeltis scabra
  • Other Names: Rhombic egg eater, Common egg eater, African egg-eating snake
  • Average adult size: 24-30 inches
  • Lifespan: 10+ years
  • Clutch Size: 6-25 eggs
  • Egg Incubation Period: 87-90 days
  • Food: bird eggs: quail, finch, canary eggs
  • Average Temperature: 90°H/70°L
  • Humidity: 40-60%
  • UVB lighting: optional
  • Average price range: $60 – $160
  • Conservation Status: “Least Concern”

Egg-eating snake Facts

Dasypeltis scabra
Dasypeltis scabra

The African egg-eating snake is from the Genus Dasypeltis and Family Colubridae. It is native to parts of sub-Saharan Africa and in some southwestern parts of the Arabian Peninsula.

Most species of African egg-eating snakes are light brown, spotted, and lined with black shades. These friendly, slithery, little snakes feed solely on bird eggs, so they are quite adept at climbing trees and rocky surfaces to locate bird nests.

Egg-eating snakes only eat fresh eggs that were just laid because they can’t digest eggs that already have a developed bird fetus inside. They can sniff out if an egg is fresh based on its scent.

According to a study in the Zoology journal, their digestive systems are designed to digest the liquids inside undeveloped eggs. Consequently, they regurgitate eggshells since they have no use for it.

For this process, egg-eating snakes have bony spikes along the back of their throats, on the inside of their spines. The egg-eating snakes will contort its body and use the spikes to crush the egg, in order for them to then drink the egg whites and yolk.

Egg-eating snakes do not produce venom and lack fangs. A bite from this snake would be painless.

Certain species of African egg-eating snakes have an interesting way of defending themselves and driving away predators. They mimic one of their venomous lookalikes by rubbing their keeled scales together to produce the same raspy hissing sound that saw-scaled vipers make.

Egg-eating snake Habitat

Rhombic egg eater
Rhombic egg eater

Enclosure

A 20-gallon or larger terrarium glass, plastic, or wooden enclosures are recommended. Exo Terra offers a nice terrarium, just as an example? Experienced owners and herpetologists recommend plastic tubs. Remove feces and urine. Clean enclosure regularly.

Substrate

Egg-eating snakes do not burrow, so about an inch of substrate will be enough.

Substrate can be as simple as aspen shavings, bedding, or bark. Give your snake places to explore by adding sticks, branches, and plastic plants like the one from CNZ. Check out Zilla reptile habitat decor for options.

Egg-eating snakes like to climb a bit, so a naturalistic looking set-up would be great.

Sturdy plants and hefty branches work well.

Temperature

African egg-eating snakes are cold-blooded like all reptiles. They need a warm environment to thermo-regulate.

The cool end of their enclosure should be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with the warm end at 90 degrees. Put a hide on the warm side of the terrarium for shelter and another hide on the cooler side.

You may find a heating pad or heat lights useful for providing warmth. Consider using a thermostat to make sure that no overheating problems will occur. For options, check out FOCUSPET under tank heating pad for snakes and reptiles as well as Zoo Med digital thermostat.

Also, create a humid hide by placing damp vermiculite moss on it. Replace and re-dampen when needed.

Humidity

Humidity should be kept between 40% to 60%

Lighting

UVB lighting seems optional. You could, however, install regular lighting to provide your egg-eating snake a cycle of day and night.

Egg-eating snake Feeding

African egg-eating snake
African egg-eating snake

The egg-eating snake’s diet mainly consists of a variety of small bird eggs such as quail, finch, and canary eggs. They do not swallow eggshells. They will regurgitate the shell, so be sure to clean the eggshells on the floor of your enclosure.

Unlike most traditional pets, snakes, in general, don’t eat as often. In the wild, they go for long periods of time without eating. Young pet egg-eating snakes need to be fed every 7 days.

As they get older, feeding will be less often. These snake swill eat about once a month.

An adult egg-eating snake usually weighs less than 1lb. If the snake starts to lose weight visibly, take it to the vet.

Temperament

Common egg eater
Common egg eater

Egg-eating snakes have a reputation for being quite docile and very friendly. As long as its dietary needs are met, the egg-eating snake can be an easy-to-care-for pet reptile. You’d find an interesting pet in this species.

Some newly captured egg-eating snakes can be defensive at first. But, once you allow time for them to settle in and be comfortable, they tend to calm down and adapt well.

The egg-eating snake does not have teeth, so biting is not an issue. These snakes’ natural defense mechanism is to rub their scales to make a hissing sound. Allow time for them to grow comfortable with your handling.

These snakes are natural climbers, so they will climb on you and wrap themselves around your hand during handling.

Play with your snake daily so it stays accustomed to being held. Regular handling will help them adjust and be less nervous with their state.

Keep in mind; be gentle with your snake. These snakes are slender. A very gentle approach in handling your snake will prevent injury to your snake.

Lifespan

When properly cared for and fed, the egg-eating snake can live up to 10 years or longer.

Common Health Concerns (Issues/Solutions)

No particular health concerns for this species have been reported. Snakes are often hardy and robust creatures. However, common to most snakes, problems such as parasites, mouth rot, skin infections, and some respiratory conditions may possibly occur.

Pricing and Availability

Pricing varies between $60 to $160.

Few stores have egg-eating snakes, but they can be found on the Internet at online captive breeding sites, and at most reptile shows. 

Conservation/Threats

According to IUCN, there aren’t any specific conservation measures in place for the egg-eating snake. In certain places, its distribution coincides with protected areas. Further research into this species’ taxonomy, population, habitat requirements, and threats should still be carried out.

Conclusion

The African egg-eating snake makes for a very good pet for reptile lovers. This docile reptile is easy to care for. These pets are non-venomous and lack the fangs to bite you.  Once they are accustomed they are easy to handle.

Housing can be elaborate or simple depending on your budget Locating a reliable food source for these snakes can be tricky. But once you do, you can enjoy a rewarding and satisfying relationship with thee reptiles.

Thinking of owning one or are you currently caring for an egg-eating snake? Let us know how you’ve been doing by placing a comment below.

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