Why Do Snakes Move After They Are Dead?

Do you wonder why your snake died?

Did it freak you out when they moved after death?

Death is an unfortunate, but necessary, part of life.

All living things must come to an end, no matter what species they are or how high they are on the food chain.

However, snakes don’t always seem to abide by this rule.

There are many instances where a dead snake will actually move and even bite the unfortunate victim.

This seemingly bizarre occurrence begs the question:

Why do snakes move after they are dead?

Snakes move after death because their bodies seem to retain their reflexes. Although strange, this ability is shared by many cold-blooded reptiles.

Read on to learn how this might happen.

why do snakes move after they are dead

Why Do Snakes Move After Their Dead?

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.

Why Did Your Snake Die?

Owning a pet snake is an extremely gratifying experience, making it all the more difficult when the snake passes away.

Although your snake may have just reached its age limit, sometimes a snake’s death 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. 

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.

Conclusion

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.

Although it may seem scary, a moving snake without a head is nothing to be afraid of.

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.