How Do Snakes Keep Their Eyes Moist?

Are you wondering why you never see your snake with their eyes closed?

Have you noticed your snake doesn’t blink at you?

If you have tried to keep your eyes open for very long, you’ll notice them feeling dry, so once you notice your snake never blinking, you might wonder:

How do snakes keep their eyes moist?

Snakes don’t have eyelids as we do. They have protective, thin, and transparent membranes, often referred to as ocular scales, brilles, eye cap, or spectacles. These cover their eyes, keeping the eye lubricated and moist. 

For even more information on snakes and their eyes, keep reading.

how do snakes keep their eyes moist

How Do Snakes Keep Their Eyes Moist?

Have you ever participated in a staring contest?

If you have, you probably have experienced a very dry feeling in your eyes as the air wicks away the moisture on your eyeball after a while without blinking. 

This is something snakes don’t have to worry about because they have a skinny and transparent membrane covering their eyes, keeping the eye moist.

You probably have noticed your snake doesn’t close their eyes with an eyelid like humans or other animals, and this is because they can’t.

They don’t have eyelids as we do, but instead have a transparent membrane, also called a brille or spectacle.  

This protective, clear scale, also sometimes referred to as an ocular scale or eye cap, does a similar job for snakes as our eyelids do for us. 

Because of this ocular scale, they never blink or close their eyes as we do, but the eye is still kept moist.

What Else Does The Ocular Scale Do?

An eyelid serves a few purposes in humans.

Besides keeping our eyes moist, it also serves as a protection against debris and other particles entering and doing damage to our eyes.

In the case of snakes, the ocular scale is no different. 

It also serves as a defense layer, protecting the eye from dirt, dust, or other particles.

This is especially important when the snake is out in the wild in their natural habitats. 

When they are in the wild, snakes are always on the move, most often on the ground where they are met with dust, dirt, and grit.

They also have to maneuver through different vegetation while they move throughout the area.

This means there are many opportunities to get stuff in their eyes and cause damage to the cornea.  

The ocular scale protects the corneas from getting damaged or scratched.

Why Does A Snake Have Trouble Seeing During A Shed?

The ocular scale might be transparent, but it is still a scale, and this is why, during a shed, the snake loses and replaces the scale over their eye. 

If you’ve been reading up on caring for a snake, you probably have learned about handling a shed.

During a shed, snakes rid themselves of an old layer of skin they are outgrowing.

The old layer is replaced with a new skin; this includes the eye cap because it is part of their skin.

The snake has a hard time seeing during this time, often causing them to hide or feel threatened more easily. 

This is because their vision is impaired, and it all comes back to the thin ocular scale.

The ocular scale is no different from any other scale on their body just because it is transparent for most of the time. 

When your snake sheds its skin, the snake also has to shed the skin covering their eye

As the snake starts to enter the shed cycle, owners will notice their eyes begin to turn opaque, restricting their vision. 

Sometimes, if there are issues with the shed or your snake isn’t hydrated, the skin will not come loose from certain areas on their bodies or eyes. 

A good soak in a tub of lukewarm water will help with this problem.

Use a large plastic storage tote or your bathtub to give the snake enough room to stretch out in the water and get all the benefits a bath offers them. 

If, after a soak, your snake still has pieces of their shed still attached, consult your veterinarian to help remove it. 

Never pick off the skin, especially the skin around their eyes, with tweezers or your fingers as doing so could harm the animal. 

How Do I Know If My Snake Is Asleep?

You might notice your eyelids get heavy when you start to get tired. 

It’s not the same with snakes. 

Since your snake won’t blink or close their eyes as they get tired and go to sleep, it might be a little difficult for new snake owners to tell when their pet is asleep.

Rather than closing a set of eyelids while sleeping, snakes close their retinas while they sleep. 

You will have a hard time determining if they are asleep if you are looking solely at the snake’s eyes.

When your snake is asleep, they will be completely still, so this lack of movement is a good sleep indicator.

However, sometimes they are just resting or basking and are asleep, but are still. 

This means you will not know if they are asleep or just relaxing in their tank.

But the longer you have your snake and get to understand their behaviors and body language; you will increase your chances of knowing their sleeping patterns. 


We hope you now have a better understanding of how a snake keeps their eyes moist. 

If you are new to snake ownership, it might seem weird to notice your snake never blinks or closes their eyes.

Even though they don’t have eyelids as we do, they do have a transparent membrane to keep their eyes moist and offer protection from dirt and debris.

It might look different than many other animals, but the purpose is the same.

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