How Long Do Snakes Live In Captivity?

If you got a pet snake today, how many years would you grow old together?

Does a snake’s lifespan depend on what species of snake it is?

A caring owner like you wants to know what to expect from the life and health of their pets. 

After all, you want them to live long and happy lives. 

This is why we think it’s essential to ask this question about your pet snake before adopting one: 

How long do snakes live in captivity?

Snakes live, on average, between 5 and 30 years in captivity. A snake’s lifespan depends on its living conditions and what species and breed it is.

how long do snakes live in captivity

How Long Do Snakes Live In Captivity Versus The Wild?

There are over 4,000 species of snakes in the world. Each one has a slightly different life expectancy, ideal environmental conditions, and common ailments which affect its lifespan.

The following table lists some common pet snakes and compares their lifespan in captivity versus the wild.

Table Comparing Snake Lifespans In Captivity And The Wild

Snake SpeciesAverage Lifespan in CaptivityAverage Lifespan in the Wild
Ball python20 to 30 years10 years
Boa constrictor20 to 30 years15 to 20 years
Corn snake25 years and more5 to 8 years
Garter snake6 to 10 years3 to 4 years
Hognose snake12 to 18 years9 to 12 years
Kingsnake15 to 20 years10 to 15 years
Reticulated python20 years and more15 to 20 years
Rubber boa15 years5 to 10 years

Snakes consistently live longer in captivity than they do in the wild.

Why Do Snakes Live Longer In Captivity?

On average, a snake’s natural lifespan increases by 50% or 60% when the snake lives in captivity.

Snakes in the wild frequently die before they reach old age. 

The leading causes for the premature death of snakes in the wild are:

  • Predators
  • Lack of prey, or even starvation
  • Harsh climate conditions
  • Hunting from humans
  • Infections or disease
  • Infighting
  • Developing babies are preyed upon before they even hatch

Pet snakes experience no natural predators, a regular availability of food, consistent environmental conditions and veterinary care. 

All of these are luxuries wild snakes don’t experience.

How Do I Help My Pet Snake Live Longer?

When pet snakes are well-cared for, they can live much longer than their wild-born counterparts.

As a snake owner, you need to research the particular snake you have to know what’s best for it.

If you’re thinking about getting a snake, take some time to research different breeds before you make a purchase. 

Different snakes need different things, so you need to find a pet who will be a good match for your lifestyle and will thrive with the resources you’re able to provide.

Consider these life necessities for pet snakes:

Appropriate tank size: You could do just fine with a small aquarium, but you might need a much larger enclosure, depending on the type of snake you have. 

For example, boa constrictors need a minimum of a 10′-square-foot area (.9 sq. m).

Consistent and appropriate temperature: Snakes are ectothermic (cold-blooded), so the correct temperature and available heat sources are critical to their wellbeing.

Consistent and appropriate humidity: For example, a corn snake’s enclosure needs to maintain a 50% – 70% level of humidity.

Access to water: All animals need water. 

Many snakes need shallow bowls because they can drown in water if it’s too deep.

A clean and sanitary habitat: Keep your snake’s home clean and fresh to help keep it healthy.

Appropriate bedding, hides, and enrichments: Snakes like to hide, especially when they’re shedding. 

Also, consider what kind of substrate (flooring) is best for your particular type of snake? 

Is your snake a tree-climber? 

A burrower? 

There are many things to consider when creating the best possible habitat for your pet.

Food type, portion, and schedule: Not all snakes eat the same prey. 

Know your snake and what its favorite foods are. 

It’s essential not to under or overfeed your snake.

Consistent veterinary visits. 

Bring your snake in for annual checkups and stay on top of any health issues it may experience.

What Are The Main Reasons Snakes Die In Captivity?

With any luck, if you’re an attentive snake owner who follows the above guidelines, your snake will die of old age. 

But there are plenty of common issues snakes in captivity experience.

  • Illnesses brought on by extreme temperatures or incorrect humidity levels.
  • Undereating is especially common in huge snakes who need to eat large prey to get enough nutrition.
  • Obesity: Feeding a snake too much, or “power feeding” a snake, can result in dangerous obesity.
  • Regurgitation: Related to overeating, or handling a snake directly after it eats, can cause a snake to vomit. If snakes inhale their stomach acid, they could die.
  • Contagious diseases can occur when more than one snake is kept in the same enclosure.
  • Fighting may happen when there’s more than one snake in a cage.
  • Genetic diseases, such as Inclusion Body Disease (IBD) in boas.
  • Inhaling or ingesting certain substrate can cause infections or toxicity.
  • Too small of an enclosure raises stress levels and decreases the quality of life.

Not all of these causes of death are preventable. 

However, many of them are just by being a conscious and caring owner.

The Life Cycle of Snakes

Snakes experience three main stages of life.

Birth and Early Development

Newborn babies – hatchlings – live off the nutrients of their egg yolk until their first shed, which happens about a week after they’re born. 

After they shed, they’re able to hunt prey on their own.

Juveniles

Young snakes rapidly grow in size but have not yet reached sexual maturity. 

They will shed four or more times a year – even once each month is common.

Adulthood

Snakes will reach sexual maturity when they reach an age between 2 and 4 years old. 

At this point, they can reproduce. 

Their growth rate then slows, and they shed less often.

Conclusion

When you know how long snakes live in captivity, it’s easier to keep them healthy throughout their life. 

Attentive and knowledgeable ownership is the key to maximizing your pet snake’s life. 

Snakes in captivity can enjoy long and happy lives, free of the normal stresses of life in the wild!

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