The myth of feeding a pet snake in separate tank

New snake owners are sometimes told that their pet should be fed in a separate tank from the one it lives in. There are several reasons why this is false.

It is stressful

By feeding it in a separate tank you are forcing the snake to endure twice as much handling as is necessary when feeding it in its own tank. A snake that is picky about eating will be even more if you force it to endure moving from place to place as it is eating.

More likely to bite

If your snake starts to associate being picked up and placed in another cage with eating it will start to go into “hunt mode” when you pick it up. Not just when you pick it up to put it in its feeding cage, but also for other reasons. Then it is much more likely to bite if it catches any scent of food.

So look at it like this: You’ve gotten the snake’s food out and it is thawing on the counter and the entire house smells like a rodent. You can’t smell it but the snake can. The snake is excited already because it is smelling its food. You then reach in, grab the snake and carry it to its feeding tank. As you place the snake into the feeding tank it suddenly goes into hunt mode and it bites you. Why?

  • It associated being moved to the other cage with eating
  • It could smell its food everywhere
  • It homed in on a heat source (you) and struck thinking it had found some food

It could cause your snake to regurgitate

Handling a snake after it has eaten can easily lead to regurgitation. If you feed in a separate tank and then have to pick your snake up and move it to its own cage you are putting yourself at risk that it will regurgitate its meal.

A word about ingesting substrate

There is no reason to be concerned about your snake eating some dirt or bark or whatever you use. They do it all the time in the wild and there’s no shortage of snakes out there. Their digestive systems can handle it.