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Do Owls Eat Snakes? What You Need to Know!

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Owls are carnivorous creatures equipped with powerful talons and a knack for hunting, making them foreboding predators for small animals to contend with. There are more than 200 species of owls living in the world today, all of which are opportunistic and do not discriminate when it comes time to eat.

They love eating lemmings, but they will also eat rats, mice, rabbits, and voles. They will even eat the flesh of large dead animals, like walruses, seals, and polar bears. However, do they eat snakes? The short answer is yes, owls do enjoy the occasional snake as a meal or snack. Here is what else you should know.

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Do All Owls Eat Snakes?

Snakes are not actively sought out by owls at mealtime. If an owl happens to come across a slithering snake when they are hungry, though, the snake may end up in the owl’s belly. While any owl might eat a snake, four specific species are known to make snakes a big part of their diet. These are:

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Image Credit: Pixabay

Whether an owl eats a snake depends on the time of year, the availability of other types of food, and opportunity.

Do Owls Consume All Types of Snakes?

An owl can only eat a snake if it can overpower the snake. Therefore, large snakes (especially those that are venomous) are not usually on the menu. Instead, owls prefer to focus on smaller snakes that pose only a small threat to them. They must be able to strike the snake without worrying about the snake wrapping around them or striking them back with venom. The most common types of snakes that an owl might decide to make a meal out of include:

  • Rat Snakes
  • Garter Snakes
  • Green Snakes

These are just a few examples of small snakes that an owl could typically overpower and eat. Sometimes, an owl will attack a large snake and end up losing the battle.

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Image Credit: Roger Jones – Shutterstock

How Do Owls Kill and Eat Snakes?

First, owls have excellent eyesight. This is important because without awesome vision, an owl wouldn’t be able to spot a snake slithering around on the ground or napping near a log. Their depth perception helps them understand exactly how far away a snake is from other objects and how far they need to be before attacking. When it comes time to attack, an owl will use their talons and sharp beak to strike the snake and pick it up. The owl will then take the snake to a tree branch or somewhere else safe and private to munch down. They would eat the snake by pecking at the flesh.

Final Thoughts

Most snakes aren’t much competition for owls, but most of the time, an owl would never attack a snake unless the circumstances are right. Since owls eat snakes, rats, insects, and other pests that we might find in our yards at any given time, it is always good to see a predator like an owl lurking around. Have you ever seen an owl attack their prey?


Featured Image Credit: Rafael Goes, Shutterstock

About the Author Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Since 2000, Rachael has been a freelance writer, and has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens, so it's no surprise that animals happen to be her favorite topic to write about!

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