Do snakes eat hummingbirds?

The hummingbird is a tiny and fast-flying bird with fascinating agility and elegant colors. These little birds are admired not only for their beauty but also for their important job as pollinators. Snakes, on the other hand, have long been a source of interest and dread due to their distinct shape, behavior, and hunting techniques. But in the animal kingdom, do these two seemingly dissimilar creatures ever cross paths? One of the common questions that arises from this subject is: Do snakes eat hummingbirds?

The answer to this question is yes. Some snakes eat hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are not their main diet; however, certain species of snakes would prey on hummingbirds if given the opportunity. Snakes are generally opportunistic feeders; they will prey on any available animal that crosses their path. In this article, we will also look at the factors that govern their interaction.

Why snakes eat hummingbirds

To understand why snakes eat hummingbirds, it is necessary to first investigate the predator and prey relationship between the two creatures. In the animal kingdom, the food chain is continuously shifting. Predators are constantly looking for their next meal while preys are always looking for ways to avoid being devoured. Snakes are opportunistic hunters, eating everything from rodents and birds to frogs and insects.

Despite the fact that snakes are known to eat hummingbirds, they are not in their main diet for various reasons:

Speed and agility: Hummingbirds are well known for their excellent flying abilities. They can easily outmaneuver many predators, including snakes, due to their ability to hover in place, fly forward and backward, etc.

Size: Hummingbirds are one of the smallest birds. Some species weigh as little as 2 grams. Because of their very small size, they may not provide enough sustenance for larger snakes.

Snakes that eat hummingbirds

Some species of snakes feed on bird eggs and chicks. This is, in fact, the leading cause of bird’s nest failure. It has been observed that only about half of the bird nests are successful; taking this into account, it indicates that many birds are eaten by snakes. When a snake raids a nest, it usually does so at night.

Not all snake species prey on hummingbirds. The snake species that have been known to prey on hummingbirds are coachwhips, kingsnakes, arboreal rat snakes, pit vipers, rattlesnakes, and corn snakes. Most of these snakes are agile climbers; they climb on the nests of hummingbirds to eat young hummers or eggs. They do not necessarily go for adult hummingbirds. However, on rare occasions, they are able to catch unsuspecting adult hummingbirds.

Some of these snakes are nocturnal; they usually raid the nests of hummingbirds at night. There are also several instances where snakes take advantage of hummingbird feeders placed by humans to attract these tiny birds. Hummingbird feeders can unintentionally create opportunities for snakes to feed on hummingbirds. They can climb up on poles or trees where hummingbird feeders are placed to catch the unsuspecting hummingbirds when feeding.

A rat snake on a hummingbird feeder

How to prevent snakes from eating hummingbirds

Are you interested in preventing snakes from eating hummingbirds? Here are some steps that you can take to reduce the risk of predation by snakes or even other predators.

1) Correct bird feeder installation. Installing hummingbird feeders correctly will help protect them while they feed. Make sure that the feeders are mounted high enough to fend off predators, at least 6 feet from the ground. Select feeders with small feeding ports and built-in perches so that larger birds can’t get to them. To aid hummingbirds in spotting potential threats, set the feeders in open spaces with a clear line of sight.

2) Use feeder poles with smooth surfaces. Snakes find it very difficult to climb smooth surfaces. The only way they are able to climb smooth surfaces is if there is something to cling to. Therefore, despite using a smooth pole for your hummingbird feeders, make sure there is nothing around the pole that can aid snakes in climbing.

3) Clean hummingbird feeders regularly. Unclean bird feeders have the potential to attract insects and rodents, which in turn can attract snakes. Make sure you clean your hummingbird feeders regularly. You can clean them once a week. Use a mild bleach solution to sanitize the feeder and rinse it thoroughly before refilling.

4) Installing snake fences. Installing snake fences around your hummingbird feeders will help prevent snakes from getting access to the feeders.


Not all species of snakes are able to eat hummingbirds; those that prey on hummingbirds do not specifically target hummingbirds; however, they would prey on them given the opportunity. There are ways to prevent birds from preying on hummingbirds, which include cleaning hummingbird feeders regularly, using feeder poles with smooth surfaces, installing snake fences, and installing the feeders correctly.

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