Why Do Snakes Move After They Are Dead?

Have you ever seen a dead snake? Was it moving?

Well, although surprising, it’s not uncommon.

Snakes have a reputation for being able to move for hours after dying. They can even bite and kill in the state of death.

The question is: Why do snakes move after they are dead?

In this article, we’ll understand why snakes move even after dying. We’ll also touch upon the causes of death in snakes. These details will help you take better care of your charming slitherer and understand more about him.

Snakes can twitch or move after they’ve died due to leftover nerve signals. The ions in a snake’s nerves are active and will respond to stimuli like being touched or moved. Their venom is still deadly and can even kill you.

But why did he die? And how should I handle my dead snake’s body?

Let’s get you all the answers.

why do snakes move after they are dead

Why Do Snakes Move After Their Death?

Although it may seem impossible for a snake to move after death, there is substantial scientific research behind the occurrence.

Like how a human body may twitch or jerk after death, a snake may do the same, but in a more pronounced and exaggerated way.

This is mainly due in part to the composition and physiological make-up of a snake. 

Low Energy and Oxygen Needs

Since snakes are cold-blooded creatures, they absorb heat from the outside environment.

Due to this fact, snakes require minimal energy and oxygen levels since they aren’t using any for heat production.

This is contrary to warm-blooded creatures, who need a large amount of energy and oxygen to regulate their internal temperature. 

While it may seem contradictory, these low levels of energy and oxygen in snakes are the main reason why these creatures continue to act “alive” after they are dead.

Since they didn’t need much of it in the first place, when snakes are killed and cut off from energy and oxygen, their cells don’t immediately die.

This prolongs the bodily functions of snakes, allowing them to still move after death.

On the contrary, the cells of warm-blooded animals start dying immediately after being cut off from oxygen.

Resilient Nerves

In addition to the bodily functions, the nerve endings of snakes continue to work correctly after death.

Even if the snake has been dead for a few hours, the ions in the snake’s nerves are still active and will respond to stimuli.

If a dead snake is touched or moved, the nerves will react and send electrical impulses throughout the body, triggering muscle movements. 

Strong Bite Reflexes

While these nerve endings trigger the bite reflex, venomous snakes have been known to be particularly “nippy” after death.

This is because venomous snakes, such as cobras and rattlesnakes, have depended on this bite reflex for survival.

The snake’s muscle and nerve memories will continue to be active, even after a beheading.

The venom is still poisonous after death, so you need to practice caution around a dead cobra or rattlesnake.

If your pet snake recently passed and you’re worried it might come back to bite you, take a deep breath.

First, let’s determine why your pet may have died, and then we will move onto safely handling the body.

brown python spiraled up

Why Did Your Snake Die?

Owning a pet snake is an extremely gratifying experience. These fascinating creatures can live up to 15-20 years long if you take care of them.

Although a snake can die for several reasons, including age limit, disease, and environmental toxins, sometimes it is because of human error.

If you feel this may be the case, you should determine if these two significant causes of death sound applicable and what to do with your snake’s body.

Poor Climate

As a cold-blooded creature, snakes require very precise climates and temperature control.

Snakes typically prefer a hot and humid environment, allowing them to absorb heat and moisture from their surroundings. 

Temperatures lower than 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18.3° C) for an extended period may cause death. 

On the other hand, temperatures over 100° degrees Fahrenheit (38° C) also cause deadly issues.

Inadequate Nutrition

In addition to the proper environment, snakes require proper nutrition for survival as well.

Typically, a snake will not eat much, since it doesn’t need the energy to maintain an internal temperature.

However, all snakes are carnivores. 

Depending on the species, they need certain types of food to survive.

It’s important not to over or underfeed your snake, which will lead to digestive complications and possibly death. 

handling a snake safely

Safely Handling The Deceased

Since you now have some insight into a possible cause of death, it’s time to dispose of your pet’s body.

While it may be an uncomfortable task, we have learned these creatures tend to bite after death.

The best thing to do is to wait a few hours before moving the snake’s body.

This will give the cells in the snake’s body time to die, avoiding triggering the snake’s reflexes.

Once this time has passed, you should either arrange for the body to be cremated or bury it in a non-biodegradable casket, such as this one on Amazon.

Either of these methods is a safe way of handling your pet snake and providing a proper send-off. 

There is also the option of composting your pet snake, and while this may seem disrespectful and disturbing, it is a very organic and natural way of parting goodbye.

However, it will take careful planning to plot out an area for the compost and ensuring your pet snake doesn’t become exposed over time.

Snake Charms Beyond the Grave

Snakes are exciting and versatile creatures.

They have a unique, cold-blooded composition, which allows them to survive on very low energy and oxygen levels.

However, it is these same low levels which allow the snake to remain animated after death.

After doing your research, now you know this strange occurrence is merely a combination of a snake’s hyperactive nerve endings and resilient reflexes.

Snakes will not come back to life after death, but you should still be vigilant around a dead snake’s body, especially when it comes to venomous snakes.

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