Do snakes eat hawks and other predatory birds?
Yes, they do, as these slithering animals are carnivorous hunters that kill and eat any suitable prey. However, hawks are also predators that target other animals, including snakes. It’s even more common to hear about these raptors feeding on slithering reptiles like pit vipers instead of the other way around.
I thus searched about snakes killing and eating hawks to see if reptile owners could consider these birds as their pets’ food sources. I also studied the unique predator-prey relationship between these two hunters, as both could become food for the other in particular situations.
Of course, your slithering pet may eat a pre-killed bird. However, don’t you wonder about these two predators’ natural encounters, especially in the wild?
This article will answer such a question while giving you other interesting facts.
Do Snakes Eat Hawks and Other Birds of Prey?
Snakes are carnivorous predators, so they can surely eat birds of prey when given a chance.
An example is when you feed a pre-killed bird to your scaly pet. These reptiles can also target and consume raptors in the wild, like injecting venom into a bird’s body.
These reptiles can kill a full-grown hawk if the bird approaches to target them on the ground.
It’s the only opportunity for the slithering land animal to reach and strike the flying raptor. They will then bite the feathered animal to inject venom into its body, weakening it and preventing it from escaping.
However, the raptor is also a powerful hunter that can strike the reptile with its sharp beak and talons. As a result, the slithering animal often becomes the prey for these flying hunters.
The thing is that both animals may also die during their predator-prey encounter. The viper may inject venom into the hawk’s body, and the bird may immediately kill the reptile afterward.
However, the venom still affects and kills the raptor. Thus, you can occasionally spot carcasses of both these predators lying near each other in the wild.
As mentioned above, slithering reptiles can only reach and strike adult raptors when the bird swoops down to target the supposed prey.
However, it’s also common for venomous and non-venomous reptiles to feed on baby raptors by climbing trees and raiding the nests. Some slithering animals only eat the chicks, while others also consume the eggs.
Some of the slithering predators that consume hawks include:
These vipers are the most common slithering hunters that kill and eat raptors.
They strike at approaching birds, inject their venom, and wait for the feathered animal to die. In some cases, the flying prey can escape and fly before it dies. However, the viper can smell and locate the dead body of the raptor for them to eat.
These slithering hunters are expert tree climbers that raid nests when the mother raptor is away at night.
They climb by wrapping their body around tree branches to reach the nest. Once there, they kill the chicks by constricting or crushing the prey with their body before eating.
These constrictors are non-venomous reptiles that also raid raptors’ nests. They constrict or crush the victim’s body and swallow it whole without chewing.
Unlike corn snakes, however, kingsnakes can eat both the baby hawks and the eggs in nests.
While slithering reptiles could eat pre-killed raptors, getting some of these birds to feed your scaly pet could be a problem.
Always remember that it’s illegal to kill predatory birds in the USA as they are not game birds. Doing so could lead you to imprisonment and hefty penalty fees.
It’s thus better to avoid considering raptors for your slithering pet’s next meal.
Hawks swoop down to the ground and commonly kill slithering reptiles with their sharp beaks and talons. These body parts are powerful enough to tear through reptile scales and tightly hold their prey while flying.
However, particular situations push a predatory bird to kill slithering animals differently.
For example, they can swoop down and immediately carry a non-venomous target into the air. The reptile would be unable to fight back as there’s no ground to support the movements of their limbless body.
On the other hand, a raptor usually kills a venomous viper immediately after swooping down to avoid its poisonous bite. The feathered predator will then cut off its prey’s head to avoid consuming the venom in the viper’s salivary glands.
After killing their prey, the bird will eat it on the spot or bring it to a safe place for a meal. They may also carry it to their nest if they have babies to feed.
You might be interested in Do Snakes Eat Owls?
The hawks’ diet depends on the available prey in their habitat, so they can grab any slithering prey they can find for their next meal.
However, raptors prey on animals that they can easily kill, grab, and carry into the air. They thus typically target small to medium-sized slithering reptiles like rattlesnakes and rat snakes. They also avoid giant reptiles like adult reticulated pythons and anacondas.
So, you must avoid leaving your small to mid-sized scaly pets in your yard if flying hunters are around.
Do snakes eat hawks and other big birds? Yes, they do, and some of these slithering hunters even love to raid nests and eat baby raptors.
Moreover, it’s interesting to know about the predator-prey relationship between these two hunters in the wild. While the slithering animals are known as powerful predators, raptors also commonly feed on these reptiles.
However, feeding a hawk to your scaly pet could be a problem as it’s illegal to kill birds of prey in the USA. You have to thus stick to other food options like rodents, quails, and chickens to avoid legal repercussions.