What Do Egrets Eat?

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Egret birds remind you a lot of flamingos with their long necks and skinny legs.  These white birds may seem like sweet animals but they are a predatory species that is feared by a great variety of small animals.

Egrets belong to the Ardeidae family and there are a total of 11 species of Egret including the cattle egret, the reddish egret, the snowy egret, and the great egret.  They are an endangered bird species because they were extensively hunted in the 19th and early 20th century for their plumes.  These birds are now a protected species that need all the help they can get and one of the best ways to protect these birds is by ensuring that they have lots of food to eat.

What Do Egrets Eat?

Egrets are carnivorous birds and they are opportunistic hunters that will catch just about any small animal they can find.  These birds will eat just about any animal that can fit into their mouths.  Here is a quick look at some of their favorite foods.

Fish And Aquatic Animals

Egrets spend most of their time near water sources because they love to eat fish.  Their long legs make it easy for them to walk through shallow waters in search of food and they can easily catch fish with their sharp beaks and thanks to their long necks.

These birds will eat just about any type of fish species or fry they can find.  They also enjoy hunting and eating other aquatic animals like crustaceans and many others.


Egrets eat all sorts of insects they find on land and in water.  They are especially fond of aquatic insects and spend many hours of the day foraging for larvae, worms, flies, mayflies, water striders, and many others.

Egrets are often seen sitting close to or on top of cattle, buffalo, or other large animals.  They do this when they are searching for small parasitic insects such as ticks that they can feed on.


Egrets love to eat in the water and since they enjoy eating meat, they are especially fond of eating amphibians.  Amphibians like frogs, newts, tadpoles, toads, salamanders, and others are great sources of protein for these large birds.


These large birds can fly very fast and they have keen eyesight which allows them to spot reptiles with ease.  They are fond of eating reptiles that live close to the water but will also catch lizards inland.

Egrets can also catch and eat snakes.  They are quick and use their huge wings to distract the snake so they can kick it with their long legs and bite it until they manage to kill the snake. Once dead, the egret will swallow the snake whole.

Small Birds

Egrets are not too fond of eating other birds but they will do so if they happen to find small chicks or if they are very hungry.  Typically, they prefer small birds or chicks but if they are very hungry, they might choose to attack larger bird species.

Small Animals

These large birds will prey on all sorts of animals that are smaller than they are.  They love to catch and eat mice, rats, rabbits, squirrels, meerkats, and many other small animals they can find.

Diet Variations

These birds may look like elegant animals but they can swallow surprisingly huge chunks.  They often swallow their prey whole.  Large fish, rats, mice, lizards, and frogs are often swallowed head first even though these animals might seem much too small to fit the egret’s slim neck.

These birds mainly feed on fish and amphibians but they never vary from their carnivore diet.  They are unable to digest plant matter.

How to Feed Egrets?

Egrets are pretty easy to feed because they have keen eyesight that enables them to spot their prey from above with great ease.  These large birds can swoop down from the sky to catch their food or they will scour the waters in search of something tasty to eat.  Sometimes they might also use tactics to catch their prey.  A good example of a common tactic is when they use their huge wings to distract snakes so they can grab them by the neck.

What Do Egrets Eat In The Wild?

In the wild, egrets mostly feed on fish but insects, amphibians, and reptiles also make up a large portion of their diet.   Other animals like birds and small mammals are not quite such a common food source as fish and insects but these foods are still pretty easy for them to catch and devour.

What Do Egrets Eat in Captivity?

In captivity, egrets are usually fed on fish and mice.  Some egrets may also be taught to eat carrion meats in which case they might be supplied with chunks of lean meats.  In most cases, they do however prefer to feed on live foods.

What do Baby Egrets Eat?

A baby egret is called a chick.  During the first few days, the parents might feed their little chick by regurgitating food back to them.  As the chick grows older, it will be able to eat larger pieces of food.  The parents will then offer the chick small fish or strips of meat to feed on.

The chicks will fledge at about one-month-old but will still receive a little bit of support from their parents until they can catch their own prey.

How Often Do Egrets Eat?

These birds are opportunistic feeders and will catch any suitable food they see moving.  They might feed several times during the day and chicks need to eat at least four times per day.  Adult egrets can however survive on one single good feeding per day.

Do Egrets Eat Snakes?

Yes, egrets can eat snakes.  They have lightning fast reflexes and their long necks and long legs make it possible for them to overpower smaller snakes with great ease.  These large birds also spread their wings to distract snakes so they can bite or kick the snake while it might be aiming its venomous fangs towards the bird’s feathers.

Do Egrets Eat Tadpoles?

Yes, egrets love to eat in the water and they enjoy spending lots of time in shallow waters where lots of tadpoles might linger.

Do Egrets Eat Fish?

Fish is one of the main food sources for egrets.  These birds can survive on insects, amphibians, small animals, and other creatures but they are especially fond of fish.

Do Egrets Eat Lizards?

Egrets do catch and eat lizards.  They will spot these reptiles from high up and will dive down quickly to catch lizards as they warm up in the sun.  Egrets also enjoy catching lizard species that dwell in and near water bodies.

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