Snakes as a whole are very misunderstood animals. There are plenty of myths about them circulating around.
This can lead to trouble for other snakes or animals that are temporarily in human care. One of these myths is about whether snakes drink water.
Do snakes drink water?
Yes, snakes drink water to stay hydrated and healthy. They drink less than mammals since they can meet their hydration needs partly by eating prey.
Snakes Need Water
All animals can become dehydrated. Most animals that live in areas with less standing fresh water have ways to deal with this. Sea snakes require fresh water and may seek out water on land if there has not been any rain.
These snakes normally drink fresh water that is temporarily floating on top of salt water during periods of rain. Desert snakes get most of their hydration needs met through their prey.
Snakes from areas with less water are frequently dehydrated, but have adaptations to help them survive these periods. Snakes from wet climates or that live in or near freshwater will also drink when they can.
They tend to have higher hydration needs. They can sometimes be seen drinking from water sources. Snakes that live in colder climates will go through a process known as brumation.
During this time, they become less active. They will typically only move to drink or bask on warm days.
Snakes that are kept as pets need to have fresh water available at all times. Many snakes will soak to help prepare for shedding. However, they also need to drink.
Since snakes in captivity may be eating prey with a lower moisture level, they need a dish of water. Ideally, this dish will be wide and shallow.
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It will also be large enough to allow the snake to soak without flooding the enclosure with spilled water. This wide dish can help keep the snake healthy.
Not only can the snake drink, but the dish of water will add humidity that keeps the snake’s skin healthy. If the water is cool, the snake can also use the water to cool down quickly.
Many snakes will try to drink about once a day. Offering water can also help prevent constipation in snakes. You should always offer a captive snake water aside from a few rare circumstances.
One of these is if your snake is very young. Some young snakes can drown in a wider dish, so they may be offered a smaller dish or have it taken out when the owner isn’t around to supervise the snake.
The dish may also be removed if the humidity gets too high. Some owners will offer a smaller dish to help control the humidity or only offer water on a schedule. It is advised that other solutions like a new substrate are found instead since snakes can become dehydrated.
Some snakes will also tip over their dish and put themselves at risk of skin infections from sitting in standing water. Keepers may offer less water in a heavier dish until a better solution is found.
The water dish may also be removed if a live-bearing snake is about to give birth. Some females will give birth in water and drown their litter on accident.
The newborns may not be able to escape the dish. This means that many snake breeders will remove the water dish when they are expecting a birth.
A vet may also suggest removing the water temporarily. This may be because of high humidity issues or because the snake keeps washing off medication. They may also want to strictly monitor any intake to help gauge an animal’s health.
How Snakes Drink
Many animals that humans are familiar with like dogs and cats use their tongues to drink. Dogs form a scoop and cats use their tongues to create a small stream of water thanks to surface tension.
Snakes do not have a tongue that can scoop up water. Instead, their tongue is used to help them smell. This may leave you wondering how exactly they manage to drink anything.
The answer is simple. When a snake is thirsty, it heads to the water. They use the small hole that their tongue comes through to drink. Much like using a straw, they can pump their jaws to suck up water and drink it.
If you look up a video of a snake drinking, you can see their jaws work and watch the snake swallow drinks of water. It tends to be a small amount, but even snakes from dry environments will likely take a chance to drink.
While this may not be as common as a mammal, a pet snake will likely stop to drink about once a day. This can happen more if the enclosure is too dry or the snake is overheating.
This is why the dish should always have fresh water available. The snake knows how much water it needs much better than you.
Like all animals, snakes need water to avoid dehydration. They can get hydration from their diet, but most snakes will drink from pools of water if it is available.
A thirsty snake will even seek out water if it needs it.
Pet snakes should always have fresh water unless the is a very specific reason it isn’t being offered.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.