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What Is an Egg-Eater Snake?

An egg-eater snake is a fascinating reptile that specializes in a unique diet—exclusively consuming eggs. These non-venomous serpents use their supple jaws to gently crack and swallow eggs whole, later regurgitating the indigestible shells. Discover how these slender creatures thrive without ever harming a chick or adult bird. Curious about their gentle nature? Dive deeper to unravel the secrets of their survival.
K. K. Lowen
K. K. Lowen

An egg-eater snake may belong to one of six separate species of snake. The type of snake that eats only eggs are referred to as either African egg-eaters or Indian egg-eaters. Africa egg-eater snakes, grouped together in the genus Dasypeltis, live all over the African continent and are not venomous. Indian egg-eater snakes, formally known as the genus Elachistodon, are far less common than their African counterparts and live in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Several different species make up the group of egg-eater snakes in Africa, and each of the species differ greatly in size, appearance, and color. The length of the snakes can range from under one foot (30.48 cm) to over three feet (91.44 cm). Coloration may vary from black to brown to green, with any degree of blending of the shades. The patterns on their scales are also very diverse, but snakes that live in certain places usually have some measure of similarity in appearance.

Egg-eater snakes require the presence of birds where they live, as they only eat eggs.
Egg-eater snakes require the presence of birds where they live, as they only eat eggs.

Each species of African egg-eater snake typically live in wooded locations which are also inhabited by many kinds of birds. The snakes require the presence of birds because they eat only eggs. Egg-eater snakes have developed a very keen sense of smell that allows them to detect whether an egg is safe to eat or rotten.

An African egg-eater snake can consume eggs that are very large when compared to the size of its body. It has a mouth and neck that can expand greatly to accommodate big eggs. The toothless snakes puts its mouth around an egg, force it down the throat, and presses the egg against the bony bumps on the back of its spine to crack the shell. After cracking the shell, the snakes empty the liquid contents of the egg and spit out the shell.

The Indian egg-eater snake is usually black or brown but may contain specks of blue. Egg-eaters are nocturnal, which may aid them in stealing eggs. Like its more widespread African counterpart, an Indian egg-eater snake also has a bony protrusion on its backbone that helps crack eggs.

Some people like to keep egg-eater snakes as pets because they generally have a calm disposition and have no teeth, eliminating the fear of being bitten. An egg-eater snake requires special care because of its unique diet. Snake owners should find out what kinds of eggs the snake will eat and how often to feed them. People that want to keep an egg-eater snake as a pet should also research the correct environment and appropriate habitat temperatures to ensure the reptile’s health and survival.

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Discussion Comments


@turquoise-- Yes, they can climb trees. They're very good at that. These birds don't feed constantly. They feed during breeding season and then hide away until breeding season comes again. So they are not hanging out on trees all year. They go up and eat the eggs and then leave.

A friend of mine has a pet egg eater snake. She's very happy with him. Since this snake doesn't have teeth and only eats bird eggs, they are one of the easiest snake pets to take care of. My friend says that this type of snake is also very calm and adaptive.

I'm scared of snakes, so I wouldn't be able to keep one at home even if he doesn't have teeth! I have purchased fresh quail eggs and dropped them off at my friend's house though. I don't mind helping that way!


My teacher taught us about this snake. She also showed a picture of an egg eater snake with an egg in its mouth. I couldn't believe how wide the snake's mouth was.

There is just one thing I don't understand. How do these snakes get to the eggs? Can they climb trees?


I thought it was strange that there is a snake called an "egg eater snake" because most snakes do eat eggs. So this snake "only" eats eggs? That's interesting.

It might actually be an issue if the birds that supply the eggs for these snakes reduce in number or disappear for some reason. Since the snakes eat nothing else, their survival will be at risk a well.

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    • Egg-eater snakes require the presence of birds where they live, as they only eat eggs.
      By: sergei_fish13
      Egg-eater snakes require the presence of birds where they live, as they only eat eggs.