CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California







Snake Behavior and Life History - Feeding

 









observation link

 

Snakes Eating:


Snakes Eating Mammals
       
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake eating a rodent Northern Pacific Rattlesnake eating a rodent Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake southern pacific rattlesnake
A Northern Pacific Rattlesnake eating a rodent. © Renee Simpson This juvenile Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake was found eating a rodent on an asphalt road at night.
When a rattlesnake bites a rodent, poisoning it with its venom, the rodent often runs off a short distance before it dies. Sometimes it ends up on a road. The snake then follows the rodent's scent trail, finds the dead rodent, and eats it. That could be what happened here, or maybe not. The snake might have found a dead rodent that was run over by a car and decided to eat it.
Adult Southern Pacific Rattlesnake eating a squirrel. This snake was fortunate to live under the deck of a building inhabited by biologists who carefully tolerated its presence and watched it emerge to take advantage of squirrels that fed beneath a bird feeder © 2006 Sheri Lubin
Northern Mohave Rattlesnake eating Northern Mohave Rattlesnake eating Northern Mohave Rattlesnake eating  
A Northern Mohave Rattlesnake eating a Harris Antelope Ground Squirrel. © Erin McGuire  
San Diego Gopher Snake San Diego Gopher Snake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake
Matt Maxon and Johanna Turner were hiking in Big Tujunga Canyon in Los Angeles County when they discovered a large dead rodent that appeared to have been partially swallowed and spit out. (Left) On returning to the same spot about two hours later, they noticed the rodent was gone, and soon discovered a San Diego Gopher Snake swallowing it. (Right) Did the snake kill the rodent, attempt to eat it, then spit it out and return later to try again, or was more than one predator involved? We'll never know, but that sure is more than a mouthful.
© Matt Maxon and Johanna Turner.

A large adult Northern Pacific Rattlesnake eating an even larger rabbit.
It's amazing how much a snake can eat. © Chris Arai
Great Basin Gopher Snake eats kangaroo rat Great Basin Gopher Snake eats kangaroo rat Great Basin Gopher Snake eats kangaroo rat Great Basin Gopher Snake eats kangaroo rat
  Great Basin Gopher Snake eats kangaroo rat  
Debbie Frost watched this Great Basin Gopher Snake crawl down a hole and quickly come back up with a kangaroo rat.
The snake then crawled into the shade made by Debbie's shadow and ate the K-rat while she watched.

northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake
northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake
northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake habitat  
In the ten pictures above, sequenced from left to right, top to bottom, a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake is shown eating a chipmunk at the top of the rocky fire lookout shown on the bottom right in Sierra County. Notice the huge lump in the snake in the last picture where the chipmunk has ended up.
© Michael Gates

Red Diamond Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake  
Red Diamond Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake  
Bob Martz found this adult Red Diamond Rattlesnake swallowing a brush rabbit when he was hiking on a hillside in Riverside County. After taking a few photographs, he left quickly so he would not scare the snake and cause it to disgorge its meal. But on his return he saw that the snake had left the rabbit uneaten, probably because it was too big for the snake to swallow.
© Bob Martz

 
northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake
 A Northern Pacific Rattlesnake eating a kangaroo rat in Alameda County © Jon Hirt

Sierra Mountain Kingsnake Sierra Mountain Kingsnake Northern Pacific Rattlesnake Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
A captive juvenile California Mountain Kingsnake eating a hairless juvenile mouse. Janet heard squeaking then saw a gartersnake rolling and twisting down an incline. When they stopped, the snake was the victor in a struggle with a vole.
© Janet Ellis
Red Diamond Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake
Jacob Anderson found this Red Diamond Rattlesnake eating a cottontail rabbit in Riverside County in early February. © Jacob Anderson
northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake  
This adult Northern Pacific Rattlesnake was seen shortly after it killed a California Ground Squirrel in Santa Clara County. It started to swallow the squirrel, but because it was on a popular hiking trail, it was frightened and stopped, probably to swallow later it after the spectators were gone. © Douglas Brown  
     
Snakes Eating Birds
       
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake eats Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake eats Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake eats Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake eats
  Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake eats  
Series of photos of a Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake eating a dove in Cochise County, Arizona. © Bob Herrmann

Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake eating a bird
A Coast Gartersnake eating a California Towhee. The meal looks too big for the snake, but the outcome is unknown
© Scott Peden
Adult Coast Gartersnake eating a bird,
found by Zach Mumbach,
Photo © Aaron Reif
Coast Gartersnake eating a bird Coast Gartersnake eating a bird    
A large Red Racer (Coachwhip) eating a dove in a tree in Arizona. © Darrell Roberts    
     
Snakes Eating Fish
       
Giant Gartersnake hunt Giant Gartersnake hunt Giant Gartersnake hunt Giant Gartersnake hunt
Series of photos of an adult Giant Gartersnake eating a sunfish, Sutter County © Richard Porter

Oregon Gartersnake eating Oregon Gartersnake eating Oregon Gartersnake eating Two-striped Gartersnake
These pictures show an Oregon Gartersnake eating a fish. © Kevin Andras. Adult Two-striped Gartersnake eating a sucker on a rock next to the San Gabriel River, Los Angeles County.
© Seth Coffman
Two-striped Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake  
Steve Ivie and his Cub Scout troupe saw this adult Two-striped Gartersnake enter a river, swim upstream, and grab a trout about 8 or 9 inches in length. The snake then dragged the trout onto a rock at the edge of the river, and eat it. © Steve Ivie

 
snake snake snake  
This adult Sierra Gartersnake saw a brown trout rising in a creek in El Dorado County,
raced across the creek, grabbed the trout, and dragged it to the shore.  © Gary Ridley

 
Two-striped Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake  
Two-striped Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake  
Adult eating a trout pulled from a pool in a Monterey County creek that dried up during the summer of 2014 due to drought.
© Pete Veilleux

Northern Pacific Rattlesnake Northern Pacific Rattlesnake Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake
An Oregon Gartersnake eats a fish. © Linda Bostwick Adult Coast Gartersnake eating a saltwater fish it found stranded in a tide pool on a rocky beach below the high tide mark in San Luis Obispo County © Randy Pickard
     
Snakes Eating Snakes
       
California Kingsnake California Kingsnake California Kingsnake California Kingsnake
California Kingsnakes eat a wide variety of prey, including snakes. They are immune to rattlesnake venom, so they will eat rattlesnakes when they find one. This striped kingsnake is eating a juvenile Southern Pacific Rattlesnake. © Kimberly Deutsch This California Kingsnake is almost finished eating a juvenile Northern Pacific Rattlesnake.   © Michele Coughlin
California Mountain Kingsnake
California Mountain Kingsnake California Striped Racer California Striped Racer
This California Mountain Kingsnake is eating a juvenile
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
, © Patrick Briggs
Lonnie Fehr discovered this adult California Striped Racer
trying to eat a juvenile California Striped Racer.
rattlesnake rattlesnake striped racer California Kingsnake
A California Striped Racer eats a juvenile Southern Pacific Rattlesnake in Los Angeles County. © Anthony California Kingsnakes are powerful predators capable of eating other snakes almost as large as they are. Here you can see one eating a Gophersnake.
© Patrick Briggs
  california kingsnake california kingsnake  
california kingsnake california kingsnake california kingsnake california kingsnake
Stacy Holt with Death Valley National Park sent me the above six photos which were taken on 8/28/13 by National Park Service Employees Drew Kaiser and Shannon Mazzei. Drew and Shannon saw the snakes struggling at around 11 AM in near Towne Pass. A California Kingsnake was wrapped tightly around a Panamint Rattlesnake and the snakes were barely moving. Disturbed by the onlookers, the kingsnake retreated under a nearby bush. The rattlesnake was dead by that time, and appears to be biting itself, but was described as biting onto the kingsnake before it died. The kingsnake probably returned to swallow the rattlesnake after the people left.
You can see other interesting wildlife sightings on the Death Valley National Park Facebook Page.

california kingsnake california kingsnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake
A California Kingsnake killing a Pacific Gophersnake for dinner. © Tim Dayton A California Striped Racer eats a Coast Patch-nosed Snake in Los Angeles County, near Altadena. © David Couch
Long-nosed Snake Long-nosed Snake southern pacific rattlesnake southern pacific rattlesnake
Chad M. Lane found this adult Long-nosed Snake in Alameda County eating another adult Long-nosed Snake. A report of the sighting was published in Herp Review in 2009 as the first documented occurance of cannibalistic behavior in this species,
© Chad M. Lane
This California Kingsnake was discovered eating a juvenile Southern Pacific Rattlesnake in the Los Padres Mountains, Santa Barbara County © Benjamin Bruno
california kingsnake california kingsnake california kingsnake california kingsnake
A California Kingsnake eating a Southern Pacific Rattlesnake © Ed Smith
Red Coachwhip      
Red Coachwhips will eat whatever they can find and overpower, including snakes. Darrel Roberts found this one eating a young Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake in his Phoenix driveway one morning.  © Darrel Roberts      
     
Snakes Eating Lizards
       
Red Coachwhip Red Coachwhip Pacific Gopher Snake eating a Western Fence Lizard Pacific Gopher Snake eating a Western Fence Lizard
A Red Coachwhip eating a San Diego Alligator Lizard. © Samantha Zahringer.

Samantha Zahringer watched this coachwhip eat the lizard by her back door. Her kids saw the snake attack the lizard. It raised its head and neck off the ground, swayed for a moment, then struck quickly. Two other lizards nearby froze while the snake swallowed its meal, then they ran away quickly.

Juvenile Pacific Gopher Snake eating a Western Fence Lizard © Daniel Harris
Long-nosed Snake Long-nosed Snake Long-nosed Snake Desert Striped Whipsnake
A Long-nosed Snake eating a Great Basin Whiptail  © Lynette Schimming. Desert Striped Whiptail, eating a Great Basin Whiptail, © Ceal Klinger
ring-necked snake eating legless lizard ring-necked snake eating legless lizard ring-necked snake eating legless lizard texas nightsnake
Ring-necked Snakes use a mild venom to subdue their prey which include snakes and lizards. This snake from San Diego County regurgitated a California Legless Lizard that it had recently eaten. © Donald Schultz

A captive Texas Nightsnake eating a
Mediterranean Gecko.
California Striped Racer eating a male Great Basin Fence lizard California Striped Racer eating a male Great Basin Fence lizard California Striped Racer eating a male Great Basin Fence lizard California Striped Racer
Sean Kelly © shot this series of a California Striped Racer eating a male Great Basin Fence lizard in San Diego County. California Striped Racers eat mosly lizards. This one is swallowing a Western Fence Lizard while holding the front third of its body straight up off the ground. This racer usually hunts with its head in this elevated position.
snake Speckled Rattlesnake Speckled Rattlesnake San Diego Alligator Lizard
A juveile Pacific Gopher Snake eating a Coast Range Fence Lizard in Sonoma County © Gérard Menut Sean Kelly found this juvenile Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake eating a Great Basin Fence Lizard behind his garbage can one afternoon in San Diego County.
© Sean Kelly
Sometimes a predatory snake loses the fight. A Ventura County San Diego Alligator Lizard bites onto the nose of a predatory California Striped Racer, leaving the snake unable to strike. Eventually the lizard released its grip and the two ran in opposite directions.
© Melissa Wantz

Southern Desert Horned Lizard Southern Desert Horned Lizard Southern Desert Horned Lizard Southern Desert Horned Lizard
Southern Desert Horned Lizard Southern Desert Horned Lizard Southern Desert Horned Lizard Southern Desert Horned Lizard
Jay Snow took this series (left to right, top to bottom) of a Red Racer trying to eat a live Southern Desert Horned Lizard over a period of 44 minutes. The snake failed to swallow the lizard and crawled away. In the last picture you can see that the lizard lay prone for several minutes after the coachwhip left then took up to 15 minutes to clean the saliva off its face before slowly walking away, no doubt thankful for the row of horns behind its head.
© Jay Snow

California Striped Racer California Striped Racer california kingsnake california kingsnake
A California Striped Racerhas caught a California Alligator Lizard in
El Dorado County © Jim Bennett
A California Striped Racer swallows a male Northwestern Fence Lizard in
El Dorado County © Jim Bennett
This striped California Kingsnake is eating a San Diego Alligator Lizard in San Diego County. © Liz Samperi
Red Diamond Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake
An adult Red Diamond Rattlesnake eating a Blainville's (Coast) Horned Lizard in San Diego County © Shane Caver A Coast Patch-nosed Snake trying to kill and eat a San Diegan Tiger Whiptail in San Diego County © Tom Day
Watch a video of this at the link below.
  california kingsnake california kingsnake  
california kingsnake california kingsnake california kingsnake california kingsnake
This California Kingsnake was observed battling a California Alligator Lizard on a hiking trail in Santa Clara County. The alligator lizard clamped its jaws down on the snake's tail and held on tight even after it died. The snake had to pull and thrash about for more than 20 minutes before the lizard let go of the badly-damaged tail, finally allowing the snake to swallow it. © Wim de Groot
Red Coachwhip eating San Diego Alligator Lizard Red Coachwhip eating San Diego Alligator Lizard Red Coachwhip eating San Diego Alligator Lizard San Diego Mountain Kingsnake
This San Diego Alligator Lizard was found biting the head of a California Striped Racer on a driveway in Riverside County. My guess is that the snake tried to eat the lizard which successfully by clamping down on the snake's head. The outcome is unknown. This California Mountain Kingsnake was found in the wild eating a Western Red-tailed Skink in Kern County
© Ryan Sikola
southern pacific rattlesnake southern pacific rattlesnake    
Juvenile Southern Pacific Rattlesnake eating a Great Basin Fence Lizard
in San Diego County © Andrew Klotz
   
     
Snakes Eating Frogs and Salamanders
       
Western Black-necked Gartersnake eating a Chiricahua Leopard Frog Western Black-necked Gartersnake eating a Chiricahua Leopard Frog Western Black-necked Gartersnake eating a Chiricahua Leopard Frog Western Black-necked Gartersnake eating a Chiricahua Leopard Frog
A Western Black-necked Gartersnake eating a Chiricahua Leopard Frog. After these pictures were taken, the snake swam across a small pool and finished swallowing the frog, as you can see in the video of this below. This video shows the Western Black-necked Gartersnake seen to the left, swallowing a Chiricahua Leopard Frog, back legs first. The snake swims across the creek to finish eating against the bank, then swims into some roots to hide. The video has been severely edited to keep it short. The entire swallowing activity, after I discoverd the snake with the frog half eaten, took about ten minutes.

San Bernardino Ring-necked snake eating an adult Arboreal Salamander San Bernardino Ring-necked snake eating an adult Arboreal Salamander Santa Cruz Gartersnake eating a newt Santa Cruz Gartersnake eating a newt
An adult San Bernardino Ring-necked snake eating an adult Arboreal Salamander in Los Angeles County © Jonathan Benson A Santa Cruz Gartersnake eating a newt. The newt is either a Rough-skinned Newt or a Coast Range Newt. Both are extremely poisonous to most animals, including humans, but the gartersnake is immune to this poison.
© Odophile.com
snake snake snake Valley Gartersnake
An Oregon Gartersnake eats a neotenic Coastal Giant Salamander in Trinity County. © Ben Witzke This Valley Gartersnake was found attempting to eat a non-native Leopard Frog in a suburban backyard. (The frog survived, but died later.)
© Stephanie Mastriano
Diablo Range Gartersnake Diablo Range Gartersnake Diablo Range Gartersnake Diablo Range Gartersnake
Adult Diablo Range Gartersnake eating a frog (Foothill Yellow-legged Frog) at the edge of a creek in Santa Clara County © Douglas Brown Bullfrogs are an invasive species that consume many native species, so it is nice to see this adult Diablo Range Gartersnake eating a Bullfrog tadpole in Santa Clara County. Although eventually  the snake regurgitated the tadpole. It was probably too big for it to eat. © Chad Lane

Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake
Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake
Adult Valley Gartersnake eating a Boreal Toad in Trinity County © Spencer Riffle

Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake Coast Gartersnake
This juvenile Two-striped Gartersnake is eating a Baja California Treefrog tadpole.
© NPS
This juvenile Two-striped Gartersnake is eating a young California Treefrog.
© NPS
valley gartersnake Watersnake Watersnake  
Most toads are poisonous to other animals, or they taste so bad that a predator will not eat them. But this Valley Gartersnake had no concerns about eating a California Toad.
© Pamela Greer
A Southern Watersnake eating an introduced American Bullfrog © J. Clay Sharp  
Valley Gartersnake Valley Gartersnake    
This unusually-colored adult Valley Gartersnake was found eating a California Toad.
© Yuri Brezinger
   
     
Snakes Eating Eggs and Invertebrates and Drinking Water
       
Pacific Gophersnake Coast Gartersnake eating a yellow Banana Slug    
Snakes do not aways kill and eat live animals. This Pacific Gophersnake is in a nest eating a duck egg,
© Patrick Briggs
A Coast Gartersnake eating a yellow Banana Slug © Rory Doolin    
Bullsnake Bullsnake sonoran whipsnake  
Adult Bullsnake drinking from an artificial pond, Santa Fe County New Mexico
© Claudia Inoue
A Sonoran Whipsnake drinks water from a small desert pool.  
       

Home Site Map About Us Identification Lists Maps Photos More Lists CA Snakes CA Lizards CA Turtles CA Salamanders CA Frogs
Contact Us Usage Resources Rattlesnakes Sounds Videos FieldHerping Yard Herps Behavior Herp Fun CA Regulations
Beyond CA All Herps


Return to the Top

 © 2000 -