Snakes are important to their ecosystems as both predators and prey in the food chain. Their role in this chain keeps rodent populations in check, while also feeding predators. Imagine a world without snakes – what might happen if this food chain became out of balance?
Birds of prey such as owls and hawks rely on snakes as sources of food. Mongooses are notorious snake predators – Indian grey mongooses are known for eating venomous snakes such as cobras. Even other snakes will eat snakes! The Indigo Snake is a species found in Texas that feeds on rattlesnakes. Other animals like coyotes and raccoons have been known to eat snakes when the opportunity arises.
Different snakes eat different things, and their food sources can vary significantly from species to species. Some small snakes, like the Rough Earth Snake, eat small creatures such as earthworms and slugs. For gardens with slug problems, snakes are great to have around as a form of natural pest control! Others feed mainly on small mammals, primarily rodents. Ratsnakes are notoriously found in suburban areas, but can benefit homeowners by controlling populations of rapidly-reproducing rats and mice. Many snakes will also feed on amphibians and reptiles, from toads to lizards.
Next time you see a snake in your yard, leave it be! Let snakes serve their important role in nature.