Egg eating snakes (Dasypeltis spp.) are 2-4’ long, nocturnal, semi-arboreal snakes native to sub-Saharan Africa. They can be found in a wide variety of habitats, but they prefer forest and savanna areas.
Egg eating snakes have slender bodies with a small, rounded head, keeled scales, and large round eyes with vertical pupils. Coloring and pattern vary by species. Males are typically much smaller than females.
Egg eating snakes are a little more difficult to care for than other similarly-sized snakes due to their very specific dietary requirements. However, once that need has been met, they can make docile, fascinating pets.
Minimum terrarium size for egg eating snakes
The absolute minimum terrarium size for an egg eating snake is 36”L x 18”W x 36”H. Of course, larger is always better! It’s important to provide plenty of room for the snake to thermoregulate, stretch out, climb, and explore.
Keeping multiple egg eating snakes in one enclosure is not recommended.
Do egg eating snakes need UVB?
Technically they can survive without it, but we still recommend providing appropriate UVB lighting for egg eating snakes. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and other benefits.
The best UVB bulbs for egg eating snakes are:
- Arcadia ShadeDweller UVB kit
- Zoo Med T8 Reptisun 5.0
For best results, use a bulb half the length of the enclosure and house it in a reflective fixture. Position the lamp on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp, no closer than 8” above the basking surface.
UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so placing the terrarium in front of a window doesn’t count as “free UVB” — in fact it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect. Don’t forget to replace your bulb every 12 months!
Lights should be on for about 12 hours every day and turned off at night. Alternatively, you can use a smart timer to sync your snake’s lights with local sunrise and sunset times.
Best temperature for egg eating snakes
Like other reptiles, egg eating snakes are cold-blooded, which means that they rely on external temperatures to manage their own body temperature and metabolism. A reptile’s enclosure should offer a range of temperatures to allow them to thermoregulate effectively.
Specifically speaking, egg eating snakes should have a basking temperature of 95-100°F. On the other side of the enclosure, the temperature should be maintained between 72-82°F. Nighttime temperatures should drop as low as 68°F, with heat lamps turned off. Temperatures should be measured with two digital probe thermometers.
Provide heat for your snake with at least one 50w halogen flood heat bulb, placed over the basking area (ex: a piece of flagstone or stone paver) to evenly heat the snake’s entire body. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective.
If your heat lamp(s) gets too hot, use a plug-in lamp dimmer or rheostat to reduce the heat output. If your basking temperatures are too low, however, you will need a higher-wattage bulb.
Best humidity levels for egg eating snakes
Egg eating snakes should have an average humidity of 40-60%, as well as access to a humid hide lined with moistened sphagnum moss. Humidity levels should be measured via digital probe hygrometer, with the probe placed in the middle of the terrarium.
Increase humidity by misting your snake’s enclosure each evening or every other day with a spray bottle.
Best substrate for egg eating snakes
Providing a thick layer of naturalistic substrate (“bedding”) will help cushion your snake’s body, maintain correct humidity levels, and also helps make your enclosure more attractive! We recommend the following substrates for egg eating snakes:
- Zoo Med ReptiSoil
- Zoo Med ReptiSand
- Exo Terra Desert Sand
Alternatively, you can make your own sandy soil mix with 60% sand and 40% soil, measured by volume.
Substrate should be at least 2” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.
How to decorate an egg eating snake terrarium
An empty terrarium makes for a bored snake, reducing its quality of life. Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of décor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors!
At bare minimum, an egg eating snake terrarium must contain substrate, a water bowl, and a place for the snake to hide. However, it’s best to include other items such as:
What to feed to an egg eating snake
Egg eating snakes are unique because of their highly specialized diet: they only eat eggs! Your egg-eating snake should be fed 1-2 room-temperature eggs per week. Each egg should be no larger than 3x the snake’s head. It’s best to simply place the eggs inside the enclosure rather than offering them via feeding tongs.
One of the keys to great nutrition is variety, and this still applies to egg eating snakes! Try using quail eggs, finch eggs, canary eggs, budgie eggs, lovebird eggs, and others around the right size. If you want an egg-eating snake for a pet, it’s best to be friends with a couple of people with female pet birds!
Of course, don’t forget a water bowl for your snake to drink from and soak in! This bowl should be large enough for the snake to soak its entire body when desired. Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.
How to handle your egg eating snake
Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. That being said, egg eating snakes generally tolerate human interaction pretty well once they’ve settled into their new home. When picking up your snake, be gentle and try to pick it up from the side or below rather than from above. Avoid forcible restraint. Support as much of its body as possible, and NEVER pick it up by its tail, as this can damage its spine! Make it your goal to make every interaction a positive one.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!