Do Raccoons Eat Snakes? How Common Is It?

Raccoon Eat Snake

Raccoons have an interesting predator-prey relationship with snakes. Venomous snake species like copperheads and rattlesnakes actually eat raccoons. In turn, raccoons themselves are snake predators of a wide range of snake species, and will eat them if given the opportunity.

While it is not very common for a raccoon to eat a snake, they consume them when the opportunity arises. Raccoons will also eat snake eggs and steal snake nests as hiding spots to sleep in. Snake meat provides a raccoon with protein, vitamin B, and minerals like zinc and iron.

Meat makes up about two-thirds of the overall raccoon diet. However, small prey like crayfish, snails, fish, or small amphibians like frogs will generally be more commonly consumed than snakes. A snake will take up a lot of energy to hunt and kill, and it can be potentially dangerous to a raccoon.


Raccoons Occasionally Eat Snakes

With the wide range of animals that the infamous trash panda tends to eat, snakes don’t seem to be a top priority. A raccoon will not go out of its way to find, attack, and kill a snake for food. That’s mainly because of the opportunistic nature of their hunting activities.

They will not shy away from killing snakes that are bigger than themselves, but will sometimes have a hard time eating them. You would be surprised by the method that’s used to overpower the relatively dangerous reptiles.


How Raccoons Kill Snakes

Raccoons are surprisingly intelligent animals that will sometimes use tools to hunt. Snakes can have venomous teeth and are potentially dangerous to predators, which will make it harder to attack and kill them for food. That’s where a tool can be very useful.

The raccoon has a solution to protect itself from a venomous bite (or strangulation) while trying to kill the snake. It will take a blunt object such as a rock, and smash the head of the snake until it is unconscious.

While this is a somewhat gruesome hunting method, it is effective nonetheless. Not only does it kill the snake, it also protects the raccoon from potentially venomous snake bites. It’s somewhat fascinating that raccoons have the ability to use tools for killing another animal.


Snakes Will Also Kill Raccoons

The reality is that raccoons are not very effective hunters. Snakes are definitely not completely helpless against the animals and will fight back. Larger venomous snake species like copperheads or rattlesnakes will even reverse the roles: they are known to actively hunt and kill raccoons.

Only a few exceptions exist, the copperhead being one of them. These snakes will usually avoid eating raccoons and prefer to eat small rodents, birds, reptiles, amphibians, or large insects. However, it might eat a raccoon when the opportunity arises.

Raccoons and snakes don’t usually cross paths that much in the wild. If they do, a snake will generally only kill a raccoon out of self-defense. After a kill, it might eat the animal if given the opportunity.


Copperhead Snake Predator
A copperhead snake will attack and kill raccoons


Raccoons Eat Whatever They Can Get

To summarize the relationship between the snake and raccoon, we can safely say that they aren’t each other’s arch-nemesis. They don’t go out of their way to hunt for each other, but it might happen that one feels threatened by the other.

For raccoons, it is more common to kill a snake than the other way around. They will specifically go after smaller species that are easier to kill, but it will take a lot of energy and effort to hunt for them.

That’s exactly why the trash panda prefers to go for an easier meal. This can be another type of prey, but it can also be non-protein based. Raccoons are omnivores after all. They will usually supplement their meat-filled diet with nuts, berries, vegetables, and food leftovers from human trash.