Snakes are probably the most misunderstood and poorly perceived group of species in the world. Although snakes are gentle creatures with a lot of benefits to the ecosystem, they are seen as sly, cunning and altogether evil. Which they just aren’t.
Apart from these negative associations, many of us know little about snakes and have many questions about these creatures. Here are some snakes FAQS. These questions will ensure you get to know your reptilian neighbors a bit better.
How Fast Do Snakes Grow?
Adult snakes range in size from as little as 4 inches (such as the ball python) to over 30 feet (such as individuals of the Reticulated Python). As dissimilar as they are in adult length so are their growth rates.
A snake such as the corn snake will grow to be 2.5 to 5 feet in about just 2 years. As hatchlings, they are about 8 to 14 inches. Another popular snake species, the black rat snake, grows from 1 foot to 5 feet in about four years. Overfeeding a snake usually allows it to grow faster and reach a longer adult length but this is unhealthy as such snakes may end up obese, which is bad for the health.
How Long Do Snakes Live?
Most snakes have lifespans of between 15 and 25 years. Snakes with slower metabolism usually grow slower and older than snakes with faster metabolisms. Here are some average lifespans of popular snakes –
- Garters – 5 to 10 years.,
- Sand boas – 15 to 20 years.,
- Milk snakes – 5 to 20 years.,
- Bull snakes – 20 to 25 years.,
- Rosy boas – 15 to 30 years.,
- And ball pythons – 20 to 30 years.
Do Snakes Have Eyelids?
No, snakes don’t have eyes. Instead, snakes have a transparent scale over their eyes. This scale is called a brille and is replaced whenever the snake sheds. This is one of the ways by which you can differentiate a legless lizard, which has eyelids, from a snake.
How to Find a Lost Snake?
If you lose a snake (in other words, if the snake escapes), do not panic. Snakes rarely go far and usually seek out dark, warm places.
First things first, if you come home to find the snake terrarium empty, lock all the doors and windows.
Next search nearby. Stout snakes such as ball pythons (probably the most popular snakes kept as pets) cannot climb high and will usually be at ground level. Search inside boxes, under furniture, inside boots and shoes, and any dark safe space.
Also check warm places such as inside your computer, behind the refrigerator, behind the radiator, and such. If you still can’t find them, turn the place upside down and look everywhere.
If your snake is nocturnal, they will come out at night eventually, making it easier to spot them. Diurnal snakes are best looked for during the day. Remove things that can scare it such as pets and loud noises.
Here are some more tricks to try. Place the snake’s terrarium on the floor, opened and with a tasty treat. Additionally, with the heat mat on. The comfort of home will attract any nearby pet snakes.
Also, make sure you tell the neighbors about the snake and explain to them why it isn’t dangerous (unless of course, the snake is a really large constrictor or is venomous). For dangerous snakes, call animal control.
How Big Are Snake Eggs?
Snake eggs come in different shapes and sizes. Some snake eggs can be as small as a grain of rice, while some may be larger than chicken eggs.
However, in places such as North America where there are many native snake species, most oblong leathery eggs that are over an inch long are usually snake eggs. To better identify snake eggs, feel them. Snake eggs are generally leathery to touch and soft. It is best not to disturb wild eggs. This usually ends up killing the egg.
What Do Snakes Eat?
All snake species are carnivorous and as such eat animal matter. Snakes usually hunt and consume prey fully. While some snakes will eat dead prey, most prefer live prey. In the wild, snakes eat rodents, small mammals and birds, and even other snakes (such as king snakes).
Some snakes also eat eggs as their main food sources such as the African egg-eating snake and the Indian egg eater. In captivity, snakes are fed mice, rats, fowls, and even rabbits.
Can Snakes Climb Walls?
Well, it really depends on the species. Some snakes are arboreal and like to climb such as Green Tree Python, and the Colombian Rainbow Boa can climb walls.
However, since snakes can’t stick to smooth surfaces and have no limbs, they need something within reach to hang onto and then pull themselves up. They can’t crawl up flat surfaces.
So while some snakes can climb walls, most can’t and those that can find it near impossible to climb any but a short rough wall. Snakes find it difficult and even impossible to climb stairs. The sharp perpendicular angles are confusing for them to navigate.
Snakes that make it to an attic do so with the help of a tree close by or through the downspout. This is rare and hardly happens.
How Long Do Snakes Shed?
It takes about 1 to 2 weeks for a snake to complete a shed. Snakes need to shed in order to grow. And snakes grow their entire life although at a much slower pace once they reach maturity. To facilitate the shedding process, make sure you provide water and humidity. Snakes would soak in water to loosen the skin.
Signs your snake is about to shed include reduced appetite, and dull bluish skin.
To aid the snake –
- Provide a moisture box.
- Mist the enclosure with lukewarm water if the humidity levels are low.
- Place a basin of water for the snake to soak. It should be large enough for the snake to soak, but not too large so there is a risk of drowning.
- Provide steady branches and barks which it can rub off on to remove the skin.
- If the snake is stuck in mid-shed, place it on many layers of damp paper towel. The humidity and friction as it squirms will help remove the old skin.
- Provide drinking water.
If your snake fails to shed, you should take it to the vet.
Never try to peel the skin yourself, you can end up injuring the snake.
Are Some Snakes Albino?
Yes, albino snakes do exist and this is due to genetic mutation. Albino snakes have lighter colorations. Some are even snow-white in color. However not all white snakes are albinos.
In addition to the lighter skin color, albino snakes also have poor eyesight which inhibits their survivability in the wild. As such, most albino snakes are captive bred.
Albinism which is a recessive mutation in snakes isn’t the only one. Other mutations including axanthics, Leucism, and dwarfism needs up creating extremely varying snakes for a single species.
For example, albino ball pythons are white with light yellow spots, while GHI Ball Pythons are extremely dark in color. Some morphs result in yellow snakes, orange snakes and many more.
Do Snakes Bite?
Most snakes can bite but rarely ever bite humans. However, snakes prefer to flee from humans when threatened. The snake won’t chase after you. A snake is most likely to bite you when startled or during feeding time if you hold its food with your hand. This is usually accidental.
Most pets kept as pets are nonvenomous. The lacerations are usually superficial. If the cut is deep, its best to see a doctor. For superficial cuts, treat the wounds properly.
To prevent your snake from biting you, feed it with tongs and ensure your thoroughly wash your hands before handling them. Snakes have an excellent sense of smell and will smell food on your hands even if you cannot. It may bite your hand thinking it’s food.
Snakes hardly bite, but if you get bite especially in by a wild snake seek medical aid even for nonvenomous snakes. You don’t want the wound to become infected.
Are Snakes Poisonous?
While many people view snakes are venomous highly dangerous creatures, most snakes aren’t venomous. About only 20% of snakes are venomous while most aren’t. Many north American snakes such as corn snakes, milk snakes, king snakes, and many others are not venomous. The same can be said about all other pythons and boas.
Some venomous snakes to beware of include the infamous rattlesnake, copperhead snakes, and coral snakes to name a few. Out of about 2900 snake species in the world, only 375 are venomous.
How Often Do Snakes Poop?
Snakes eat far less than humans do, so they poop far less often. Rule of thumb: Snakes poop once for any meal the eat. So if you feed your snake once every two weeks, expect them to poop once every two weeks.
Rat snakes defecate every 2 days, vipers defecate every 3 to 7 days. It can be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. If your snake is constipated, it could be a symptom of illness. Schedule a check-up with a vet as soon as possible. Impaction is usually the main culprit when it comes to constipation.
Can Snakes Jump?
This is a tricky question. Apart from 5 species out of the 2900 snake species, snakes can’t actually jump. Even with the 5 species (called flying snakes), they glide. However, snakes can raise a large portion of their bodies off the ground and make certain sudden movements such as swings that cause most its body to leave the earth.
Do Snakes Come Out at Night?
Snakes can be diurnal or nocturnal. Diurnal snake species come out during the day and rest during the night just like humans do. Nocturnal snake species, on the other hand, come out during the night and rest during the day.
Some diurnal snake species include hognose, king snakes, rat snakes, bull snakes, and garters. Some nocturnal snakes include green tree python, Colombian rainbow boa, black house snake, and ball pythons.
While some prefer diurnal snakes on account that diurnal snakes are more active during the day, some keepers prefer nocturnal snakes since they can interact and handle the snake during the evening and night when the keepers are freest.
These are some of the frequently asked questions about snakes. I hope this article not only satisfies your thirst for knowledge but also provides valuable practical information.
Remember the information provided is not supposed to be substitute for professional assessment but is to provide generalizations. If there are any snake questions that keep you up at night or have any information to add, kindly leave a comment. We look forward to hearing from you.
Monday 3rd of May 2021
How do egg-eating snakes protect themselves if they don't have teeth or venom? - Amari
Monday 15th of February 2021
It's good to know that even though most snakes can bite, they don't bite humans very often. My son has recently decided that he wants a pet snake, and I'm trying to find out more about them so we're making an informed decision. I think it might be smart for us to go to a wildlife park that has a reptile center where we can go and look at snakes and talk to some professionals more about them.
Saturday 25th of January 2020
I'm new to breeding ball pythons, and even after doing lots of research and study there seems to be lots of different ideas on how to deal / treat the same issues / problems. So ... we have 8 eggs stuck together that were discovered too late to seperate. They are on vermiculate that was damp to touch, (And held together) , but no moisture actually coming out of it. They were laid in the snake's cave on 4th Jan. We removed them and placed them in a small cube shaped plastic box that has a couple of small air holes each side. It's in a Lucky Reptile incubator at 32* degrees. Two of the eggs in particular have dented in quite bad which I understand indicates lack of moisture / humidity wrong.
I have added a small amount of water to the edges of the vermiculite and placed a damp kitchen towel over the eggs ??? This was suggested on one of the forums ??? Is that correct? and how long should it be left in it, or should it be replaced. Re dampened, or once humidity increases (indicated by condensation on sides of box - but not dripping on the eggs), should it just be removed?
Any advice or help greatly appreciated
Saturday 25th of January 2020
Have a look at this video from Chris Hardwick on Ball Python Egg incubation. Go from about the 7 minute mark and watch. While he doesn't explain the answer to your exact question he does really cover the process well. You could set up a new incubation box and just maintain it from there as he describes. I hope this helps. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-xKNILwkdI