As its name suggests, the short-toed snake-eagle specialises in feeding on snakes, which can measure up to 150 centimetres or more in length and are usually eaten whole, head first (2) (4) (8). Although some venomous species are taken, most are non-venomous. Other reptiles may also be taken, particularly lizards, as well as occasional amphibians, small mammals, and, rarely, birds or invertebrates. Most hunting takes place in open areas, the eagle soaring or circling, sometimes at great heights, and often hovering as it searches for prey (2) (4) (5).
The short-toed snake-eagle breeds from April to October in western parts of its range, and from December to May in the Indian subcontinent. The nest, which is relatively small for such a large bird, is built in a tree, and is constructed from sticks and twigs and lined with green leaves or grass. A new nest is built each year, although the breeding pair may also take over the old nest of another bird species, or, more rarely, nest on a cliff ledge. A single egg is laid, hatching after an incubation period of 45 to 47 days. Fledging takes place after 60 to 80 days, although the chick may move from the nest into the surrounding branches 10 to 15 days before this. The young short-toed snake-eagle becomes independent soon after fledging, and may live up to 17 years (2) (4).