How Long Can Snakes Go Without Water?

Are you worried your snake will get dehydrated if it goes without water for days?

Do you want to make sure you avoid health issues with your snake?

Rest assured, your snake will probably be fine for a week-long mite treatment without its water bowl.

Still, it is normal to feel nervous about extended water deprivation in snakes.

You need to know how long snakes can go without water.

Depending on species and environment, wild snakes will go without fresh water for weeks or even months. In captivity, you should only restrict water intake for about a week. Snakes survive for longer without food than they do without water, just like warm-blooded animals.

how long can snakes go without water

Wild Snakes And Water

Snakes have evolved to need less water than most warm-blooded animals. 

They excrete their urine as solids rather than liquids, and their digestive systems are much slower than warm-blooded creatures’. 

Unlike amphibians, water does not evaporate through their layer of scales. 

However, fresh water is still essential for their survival. 

Their keen sense of smell helps them track sources of water over long distances.

Wild snakes get their water from lakes, rivers, and rainwater puddles. 

In environments without much standing water, like deserts, snakes will collect dew or rainwater on their backs, drinking it one droplet at a time. 

Experts have observed sidewinders, some rattlesnakes, and desert horned adders flattening their bodies during rainfall to collect rainwater on their backs. 

During winter brumation, snakes will sometimes emerge from their dens to eat ice and snow or drink accumulated water.

Though snakes slow down their metabolism to survive for extended periods without food, they cannot do the same for water.

Though you may expect them to be able to drink seawater, pelagic sea snakes cannot. 

They also need fresh water, despite living in a saltwater ocean for most of their lives. 

Sea snakes will drink rainwater on beaches and shores when available. 

When it is raining on the ocean, the fresh rainwater will form its surface, called a lense, on top of calm areas of the sea. 

Sea snakes also drink this water before it combines with the salt water underneath it.

A sea snake may go up to six or seven months without drinking any fresh water.

How Long Can My Pet Snake Go Without Water?

snakes resting in their enclosure

Your pet snake, generally, will not have to worry about finding fresh water. 

Since you have set up their environment correctly, they should have a regularly cleaned water dish to soak, and proper humidity providing them with ambient moisture. 

Your snake’s water bowl should be on the coolest side of their enclosure to prevent evaporation.

You should be changing your snake’s water at least once a week. 

If you notice your snake taking frequent baths in their water dish, change it out two to three times a week. 

Wash your snake’s soaking and drinking bowl with unscented, reptile-safe soap before refilling it. 

You should be washing it regularly, especially if you see your snake defecating in its soaking bowl.

If you are concerned about chlorine or chloramine in your snake’s water supply, make sure to filter the tap water you put in their dish before giving it to them. 

Bottled spring water makes a great alternative if you would prefer not to use tap water. 

If you need to increase humidity in your snake’s enclosure, mix water in with their substrate and mist several times a week with a spray mister.

There may be some periods in your pet snake’s life when you will need to remove their water dishes and dry out their environments. 

Some mite treatments, for example, require you to take the water dish out for a week. 

Most snake species will be fine for this length of time without water. 

Some species, like ball pythons, might last for up to twelve days without health repercussions. 

However, you and your pet are probably safer sticking to a week, at maximum, of water deprivation.

How Can I Tell If My Snake Is Dehydrated?

snake drinking water

If you need to remove a snake’s water source, you should be watching for signs of dehydration in your snake. 

Though your snake may be just fine for a week-long mite treatment or monthly deep clean, frequent dehydration may lead to more serious health issues in the long run.

If your snake is shedding, check to see if it sheds in many pieces or one long, unbroken piece. 

If the shedding is flaky, your snake is probably dehydrated.

Other symptoms include:

  • Dry skin or skin with wrinkles
  • Skin is more brittle and less elastic
  • Eyes receding
  • Lethargy during a non-brumation period
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite

If you notice any of these symptoms, drop water onto your snake’s nose using an eyedropper. 

This provides them with a source of drinking water without you needing to sacrifice the mite treatment by bringing their water bowl back in.

If your snake still does not drink, you may need to take it to the veterinarian. 

Your vet might need to give your snake fluids using injections or feeding tubes.

Your vet will be able to advise you if they notice any other health problems related to dehydration.

The Amazing Water-holding Abilities of Snakes

We hope we have helped you learn more about how long snakes can go without water. 

Depending on species and environment, snakes will sometimes go weeks or months without drinking fresh water in the wild. 

Though they may not need as much water as other animals, fresh water is still essential for their survival. 

Wild snakes have many strategies to collect, find, and drink fresh water. 

You may need to take your snake’s water source out of their enclosure for an extended time in captivity. 

We recommend not depriving them of water for more than a week, as more prolonged dehydration may lead to more extensive health problems.

If you liked this check out our article on what salt does to a snake.

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