How Do Snakes Drink Water?

Are you considering purchasing a snake as your next pet, but you have a few questions? 

Do you wonder how much food they eat or how much water they drink?

Doing your research beforehand is essential, considering there are over 3,000 species of snake. 

However, you should also learn about the basic functions of a snake. 

How it moves, how it eats, and how it breathes. 

The more you know about your pet reptile, the better you will take care of it.

One of the questions you may have is:

How do snakes drink water?

The expandable skin creases of a snake’s lower jaw act like a sponge and absorb the water through capillary action. Muscles in the snake’s mouth and esophagus then push the water into the snake’s stomach.

Let’s take a look a closer look at how this process works. 

how do snakes drink water

How Do Snakes Drink?

You may have found it odd to learn a snake’s mouth acts like a sponge. 

Instead of using a suction motion to bring the water into their mouth, they absorb water into the skin inside their mouth. 

A snake drinks this way due to several biological components.  

Small And Sheathed Tongue

While most animals use their tongues to lap up water into their mouths, snakes don’t have this ability. 

Their tongues are too small and go into sheaths when not in use. 

By doing so, the tongue gathers scents from the environment to help the snake navigate. 

Although the tongue helps the snake move and eat, it provides no use for drinking water.

Spongey Jaw

To compensate for the tongue, a snake’s lower jaw plays a significant role in helping it drink water. 

As mentioned above, the lower jaw’s skin creases act like a sponge and absorb the water through capillary action. 

Similar to how a snake’s jaw expands when it eats large prey, the jaw can expand to absorb more water. 

The folding in this soft tissue creates small tubes which help the water flow into the mouth. 

This is a very passive yet effective way of drinking water, especially given the snake’s inability to form a suction.

Muscular Mouth

Once the water is inside the snake’s mouth, there needs to be a way for it to move into the stomach. 

They do this through muscle movement, and it’s the same way a snake pushes food down its esophagus. 

The muscles in the snake’s mouth and esophagus work the water into the stomach. 

Upon reaching the stomach, the snake’s digestive system will take care of the rest.

Since you now understand how a snake drinks water, it’s essential to set up your pet snake’s habitat in an ideal way to encourage drinking.

Keeping Your Snake Drinking

Owning a pet snake is a rewarding experience, as snakes make excellent companions. 

However, you need to ensure your snake will be able to drink throughout the day adequately.  

By doing so, you’ll be providing a healthy home for your new friend.

24/7 Water Access

To prevent dehydration in your pet snake, you need to have water available 24 hours a day. 

Although they may not seem like it, snakes are avid drinkers and cannot just rely on absorbing water from the humidity. 

They need a constant source of drinking water, so you’ll want to select a bowl made of ceramic or plastic, such as this drinking bowl from Amazon. 

Additionally, make sure the bowl is no smaller than the size of your snake. 

This is because many snakes like to soak in the water to promote the shedding of their skin.

Fresh Water Preferred

While ensuring water is available every day for your snake, it’s vital to make sure the water is fresh and clean. 

A general rule of thumb is to change the water once a week and to use only filtered or bottled water. 

This will guarantee your snake won’t absorb any chemicals found in tap water.

If you notice debris in your water, possibly from your snake shedding its skin, you will want to change the water more frequently. 

The cleaner the water, the easier it is for the snake to drink and digest.

Placement Is Key

To encourage drinking, it’s also important to place the water in the proper location. 

Since all snake enclosures need higher temperatures on one end and cooler on the other, you should make sure to place the water on the cooler side. 

This will prevent evaporation of the water, so you don’t have to refill it constantly. 

Keeping the water on the side away from the heating apparatus will also keep humidity levels in the enclosure properly.

Monitor Constantly

Following the above recommendations will ensure your snake is always hydrated. 

However, it’s crucial to continually check in on your reptile friend to make sure it is drinking. 

Sometimes, your snake will avoid the water if it has an illness, so it’s best to check for dry skin signs or excessive lethargy.

Monitoring the water levels is also an ideal way to tell if your snake is drinking enough. 

If you haven’t needed to refill the water over an extended period, it may be because your snake isn’t feeling well enough to drink it.


Snakes are unique creatures who have adapted to live in almost any climate. 

They know how to hunt effectively, conserve energy, and even drink without a proper tongue. 

Their expandable lower jaw allows the snake not only to eat prey twice its size but also to absorb water like a sponge.

Understanding how a snake drinks will help you become a better parent to your new reptile. 

While it may take some getting used to, once your snake becomes adapted to its environment, it will feel much more comfortable. 

Watching a snake drink water is also very entertaining and is a true testament to the distinctive nature of these creatures.

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