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Do Snakes Eat Owls? Do Owls Eat Snakes? Answered

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Snakes are often seen throughout the wild and are often pictured having fights with other animals and hunting their prey. However, people often wonder whether they even come into contact with other types of creatures. 

For example, you’re very unlikely ever to see a snake battling against a shark or certain types of birds. Owls, on the other hand? Ever wondered what would win in a fight between an owl and a snake?

Two owls eating snake

Follow our guide to find out where owls and snakes reside and whether the two ever clash.

Owls and snakes have diets that need fulfilling, so you’d imagine they’d have a battle every now and then if they live in the same sort of environment. Keep on reading to find out more.

Where Do Owls Live? Where Do They Come From?

Owls are nocturnal hunters who spend most of their time at night when it’s dark. This is because they rely on sight to hunt for food and can see exceptionally well in dark environments. Their eyesight is pretty good, but not as good as ours.

The best way to spot them is by listening for their hoots. These calls can be heard up to a mile away, which means they can easily hear predators coming toward them. It also means that their prey will be on edge if they’re suspecting an immediate attack.

Owls originate from lots of different countries and continents around the world. They tend to stay close to water sources such as rivers, lakes, and oceans.

They’ll usually nest within these areas and use them as a safe haven during the day. Forests are perfect for these birds and will often look to hunt small rodents.

How Do Owls Hunt? How Do They Catch Prey?

The owl has a unique method of hunting. Instead of using its claws, talons, or teeth, it uses its wings to catch its prey. When it spots something that looks interesting, it flies down and grabs onto it.

Once it reaches its target, it clamps its feet together and pulls it back to the ground. This allows it to get a better grip on whatever it wants to eat. Talons are an owl’s best weapon.

If this doesn’t work, it’ll sometimes try to grab onto prey with its mouth. If it does manage to do this, it’ll bite the animal before pulling it back to the ground to finish off the meal.

Where Do Snakes Live? Where Do They Come From?

Snakes are reptiles and they’re found all over the world. They’re mostly active at night and sleep during the day. They’re able to move through trees and bushes quickly without being spotted. They’re also good climbers and can travel long distances.

They’re known to eat a wide variety of things including insects, frogs, lizards, mice, rats, and even smaller mammals like rabbits. Most snakes are harmless and won’t cause any harm to humans.

Some species, however, are venomous and could potentially kill you if they were to bite you. This means that animals like owls are also at risk.

How Do Snakes Hunt? How Do They Catch Prey?

Snakes are ambush hunters. This means they wait until prey comes near them before striking, but they also follow their prey with stealthy movements.

A lot of them are excellent swimmers and can swim across large bodies of water. They’re also good runners and can climb trees and rocks. They’re able to camouflage themselves perfectly and blend in with their surroundings.

When they want to capture prey, they’ll lie motionless under a rock or bush of some kind. They’ll wait there until they spot some kind of movement nearby. Then they strike, wrapping their body around their victim and squeezing tight.

Once they’ve got hold of their prey, they’ll pull it back to the ground and swallow it whole. Other types of snakes will use venom to capture their kill and will wait for it to debilitate them instead of using too much energy.

Do Snakes And Owls Live In The Same Areas?

Yes! Many animals live in both places. One example would be owls and snakes. As mentioned earlier, owls are nocturnal so they prefer to hunt at night.

However, many snakes are active during the day and they can be seen basking in the sunlight. This is often done, so the sunlight can help these reptiles regulate and maintain their body temperature levels.

Because some species of owls live in forests and areas with lots of trees and shrubbery, they are bound to run into snakes from time to time. Of course, not every species of snake will share their environments with owls, but certain types of this reptile definitely will.

Snakes that spend their time in the desert will never have seen an owl, but they will surely run into similar birds like vultures.

Owl eating

Do Owls Eat Snakes? Are There Any That Don’t?

Yes! As we previously mentioned, many of these snakes will depend on the size and the type that they have to live in the same habitats as owls, however, the answer is yes.

If the snake is small enough and unaware, then the owl will have a perfect opportunity to swoop down from the sky and snatch up their scaly prey with relative ease.

These snakes are usually some form of grass snake and will usually be hunting their own prey, such as field mice and other small rodents. Rat snakes and ribbon snakes are other forms of snakes that owls will target because of their smaller size.

These reptiles pose much less of a threat compared to larger versions of snakes, which can also be venomous.

One species of owl that has been known to eat these types of snakes is the Barred Owl. They are average-sized owls compared to some other species of owl and will use their talons to claim their prey. Another species of owl that has been known to attack and eat small snakes is the Burrowing Owl.

They are a rare type of owl that will actually make its nest on the floor, rather than in trees. They tend to target snakes like smooth green snakes and other small forms of the reptile.

The Great Horned Owl is a much larger form of these birds and they are frequently seen throughout North America and South America, making their nests in a range of different environments and surroundings, like forests, small deserts, and grassland.

Although their main food source comes in the form of rabbits and other relatively small mammals, they have been known to attack small snakes. However, they are definitely not one of the main parts of this owl’s diet.

Do Snakes Eat Owls?

Many people believe that snakes eat owls, however, there are very few records of actual encounters between the two groups. Most of the time, when you see owls around a snake you will find that the snake was already dead, which means it had died from another cause.

Some examples include a snake being attacked by a predator or even dying due to old age. As long as the snake wasn’t killed through any unnatural methods, the chances of them eating an owl are extremely slim.

Of course, as we’ve already mentioned, owls will target smaller snakes because they are easier to get the best of. Snakes will most likely target owl nests where there are eggs left unattended.

These can be an easy meal and will probably allow the snake to avoid the threat of a fight. Because most owls tend to be larger than the snake types around them, there aren’t many records of snakes attacking owls. The birds are harder to attack when they are flying around, as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Snakes Poisonous?

Not all snakes are poisonous, with many preferring to constrict their prey before eating them. A lot of the snakes that are targeted by other creatures are usually free of venom.

What Do Owls Eat?

Owing to their large size, owls will often eat bigger animals like rabbits and rats. However, they will also eat smaller rodents such as mice if there are plenty in their habitat.

Why Would Owls Eat Snakes?

For a lot of reasons. Many owls are good hunters and will sometimes hunt for food when they feel hungry. This includes catching small snakes. They may also be trying to protect their young, with snakes attacking smaller forms of the owl.

Final Thoughts

Although owls are generally considered to be predators, they don’t always go after the biggest and strongest prey. They will just choose what’s easiest for them to catch and eat. 

If they could catch something much bigger, they wouldn’t need to worry about protecting themselves against other threats. Small snakes are often seen in the same areas as a lot of types of owls, with many of these birds choosing the reptiles as their next meal.

Owls will usually target something like a rabbit, a mouse, or even rats as their preferred food source, however, many animals in the animal kingdom are considered opportunistic, with owls having to pick and choose when they make their attack. 

Ultimately, a bird will get hungry and will take the next thing it can find in a lot of cases, with snakes sometimes being a specialty on this menu.

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.