snake live food

Live Vs Frozen Snake Food – Which Should You Choose?

So, you got a thing for snakes. You’ve already brought one home or planning to but there’s a problem.

What do you feed it? This is a fairly common question for most first-time pet owners. Especially snake owners. 

If you take the time to go through reptile related forums, you’ll find that the reptile community is pretty divided when it comes to snake feed.

Some say frozen food is better cause its convenient and safe. Others differ claiming that live food is much more nutritious and helps trigger natural instincts which are healthy for snakes. 

Personally speaking, when it comes to live versus frozen food for snakes, it really doesn’t matter. I’ve tried both with my snakes but haven’t noticed much difference. Of course, there are some advantages and disadvantages to both types of food.

In this article, I’ll be explaining them in detail to help you figure out which one is best for you. So, let’s begin. 

Live Vs Frozen Snake Food

Upon using various types of feed through my years as a snake owner I’ve noticed a few pros and cons of both types of feed. I’ve also talked with other snake owners such as myself. All of whom have pretty strong opinions on what they feed their pet snakes. 

Here, I will talk about both types of snake food based upon what I’ve learned and taught up until now followed by my personal opinions on the matter. Then you can make the decision for yourself.

Live Food

Live snake food rats

The most common understanding among live food users is that it helps to trigger the natural behaviors of your snake. They don’t get much chance to do that in captivity. So, this chance to practice their wild instincts help them to stay healthy and happy. 

But I’m not sure about the validity of this claim. Maybe it’s just me but I’ve never noticed any difference when I transitioned from live to frozen food for my snakes.

Yes, some snakes do prefer living and moving prey over frozen ones. But you can easily overcome this by wiggling the food near the snake’s mouth using a snake feeding tong and your snake will accept it.

Also, some consider live food more nutritious. In preservation, any sort of food tends to diminish in nutrition over time. So, the fresher the food the better. And alive is as fresh as it gets. 

The problem with live feed is that there is a chance that your snake might get hurt while feeding.

Most probably you are going to feed rats and they won’t go down without a fight. So, there is a good chance of your snake getting injured. The owner may also get injured while handling the prey.

Also, there is an ethical concern. In the wild, the prey usually gets a chance to fend off or run away. In this scenario, it doesn’t have a chance. For this many snake owners avoid using live prey. 


  • Snakes get to use their natural instincts 
  • More nutritious 
  • No preservatives 


  • Chance of injury to the snake
  • Chance of injury to the owner
  • Ethically questionable
  • Have to look after the prey until fed 
  • More expensive

Frozen Food

Frozen food is a bit more common than live. I personally use it. Mostly because of its convenience. 

To be frank, there is no evidence that live food is any healthier than frozen food.

If you use it before the expiration date then there shouldn’t be a problem. While not being much different than live food it is much more convenient and cost-effective.

Frozen food is cheaper and you can hold on to them in the freezer for a while. 

With frozen feed, you don’t have to worry about your snake being injured and more importantly you. So, this is undoubtedly the safer option.

A good thing about frozen food is that you can just walk to a store and buy the food or order online. There is no hassle of keeping the food alive until fed.

Also, this method of feeding is a bit more ethical than throwing in live rats. The rats are entered into a CO2 chamber where they are painlessly killed and then frozen. 


  • Convenient
  • Cheap
  • Easy to store
  • Does not require taking care of the food
  • No chance of injury to the snake
  • No chance of injury to the owner
  • Easily available 


  • Chance of food containing preservatives 
  • Slightly less nutritious than live snake food

How to feed your snake?

When it comes to live snake food there isn’t much science to it. Carefully grab the prey and throw it in the snake tank.

If you are throwing in a full-sized rat then I advise that you keep your eyes on the rat until your snake has coiled around it. 

Remember, if your snake does not show any interest in the first one or two minutes then it’s probably not hungry. In that case, you should remove the rat to avoid injuries to the snake. 

Also, it is best to avoid live feed if possible. Unless your snake is a picky eater you should use frozen food.

They are so much cheaper and more convenient than live food. So, why wouldn’t you? 

While feeding frozen food you should first defrost it. Start by placing the rats in a plastic zip bag.

Remove as much air as possible and then zip it close. Take some hot water in a container and then submerge the bag until the snake food warms up.

Then take out the food and place them inside the snake tank.


Now that we are at the end of our little article “live Vs frozen snake food” I hope I was able to help you decide which one is best for you. On the question of nutritional value, you won’t notice any difference between the two. But I personally do find frozen food to be a tad bit more convenient. 

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