Do Snakes Roll Over When They Die?

Have you ever thought about the lifespan of a snake?

Do you wonder how to know if a snake is dead or just faking?

If you are interested in learning more about a snake and how they live and die, you might ask: 

Do snakes roll over when they die?

There is no clear-cut answer on whether a dying or dead snake will roll over onto its back. Some do, but this is not linked to a specific species or age group. Many who have found their snake dead on their back speculate it is related to relieving pressure or pain. 

Please continue reading to learn more about the question of snakes rolling over when they die. 

do snakes roll over when they die

Do Snakes Roll Over When They Die?

Whether you have come across a dead snake in the wild or are curious about your pet, you may have noticed some are rolled over onto their backs when they die.

There is no hard and fast yes or no answer regarding whether or not snakes roll over when they die. 

Some do, and others don’t. 

It is not dependent on the species or age of the animal. 

Some snakes are found dead rolled over on their backs, but not all.

There is no known reason why some snakes do, and others don’t do this, but there are a few theories.

One of these includes the idea of snakes attempting to relieve the pain or pressure they might be feeling as they are dying.

Female snakes getting ready to lay eggs often flip onto their back to relieve pressure.

Some believe dying snakes might be doing the same thing to relieve the pressure or pain as they are dying.

Experts haven’t done many studies into this case or other reasons for flipping over when dead. 

How To Tell If A Snake Is Dead

Snakes are tricky animals to figure out sometimes.

Scientists haven’t been able to do in-depth research on these animals’ behaviors, partially because it is challenging to motivate them. 

When it comes to a snake being dead, it is often tricky because snakes don’t close their eyes, and the animal will be very still if the temperatures drop or during the period of brumation. 

Brumation is similar to hibernation, but a snake in brumation, will sleep for long periods and occasionally wake to eat or drink.

When you aren’t sure if you have a sleeping or dead snake, slowly and delicately touch your snake.

If the snake is alive, it will react to your touch, lifting its heads and looking around to determine what is happening. 

Constrictors will start to wrap themselves around you when you attempt to lift the animal out of its cage.

Even a snake in brumation will be responsive when you touch or lift the animal. 

A dead snake will still have its eyes open, but it will not react to your touch. 

When they are dead, they will instead hang limply in your hand when you lift and handle them.

Simply put, the easiest way to distinguish between a live snake and a dead one is responsiveness to your touch.

Dead snakes don’t change color when they die, so touching them is the best way to decide, but there are instances where this isn’t always accurate.

These animals rely on the external temperatures around them to regulate their body temperatures.

When the air around them gets too cold, their bodily functions slow down, and brumation may kick in.

Should temperatures stay too cold for too long, the snake could suffer serious health issues and even death.  

If you notice the snake is cold but you aren’t sure if it is alive or dead, a warm soak may help the animal get back to raise its body temperature.

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Snakes Who Fake Their Death

A few snakes in the wild will do anything to get out of a jam.

Hognose snakes, commonly dubbed zombie snakes, are one such species.

People nickname these animals the zombie snake because they are “dead” and “come back to life” after some time. 

Zombie snakes will fake their death to get out of becoming someone else’s meal.

Commonly found across the eastern United States, from Illinois to North Caroline, hognose snakes have many predators, including foxes, raccoons, opossums, hawks, and other predatory birds.

Besides hissing, lunging, and biting when they feel threatened or angry, these zombie snakes will pretend to be dead if those more aggressive tactics don’t work.

As it fakes death, the animal will flatten their head and neck, hiss to fill its body with air, and roll over on its back.

Once they are on their back, hognose snakes will open their mouth and allow their tongue to hang out in an attempt to complete the illusion of death.

If the trick works, the snake “comes back to life” and gets away to “die” another day.

Sometimes, the predator will push the snake back onto its stomach.

When it happens to them, the hognose snake hisses, lunges, bites, and fakes their death all over again, in the hopes of their tricks working this time. 


Experts haven’t studied snake behavior in-depth, and because of this, we don’t know why a snake would roll over when they die or even if there is a large sample of snakes who do this.

You might come across a snake who had rolled over when it died, but it is just as likely you will find a snake who hasn’t rolled over when it dies.

Until more research has been done, a blanket statement saying snakes roll over when they die cannot be made. 

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