If you’re thinking about making a long-term commitment that’s going to require time, effort, money, and love, then look no further than getting a snake. Now, you may be wondering, “How long do snakes live as pets?” The answer may surprise you.
Depending on the species, snakes can live between 10 and 30 years on average. That’s longer than most people take to pay off their college loans! We’ll have a look at the lifespans of seven of the most popular pet snake species to help you decide whether one of these slithering commitments is for you or not.
Snakes live a lot longer as pets than they do in the wild because, in captivity, they don’t have any predators, floods, or wildfires to worry about. However, the level of care you provide to them can seriously impact how long they live.
But we won’t leave you hanging. We’ve got some bonus care tips for you, to ensure your serpentine friend lives a long, healthy, and happy life.
Why Do Snakes Live Longer As Pets?
Snakes may seem like the stuff of nightmares that should be at the top of every food chain; however, in the wild they can be rather vulnerable.
Snakes have natural predators such as birds, mongeese (mongooses/mongi, whichever you prefer), cats, other snakes, and other reptiles. Snake meat is packed with protein, which puts it at the top of some human menus, too.
In addition to being preyed upon, snakes are very sensitive to humidity and temperature. Thanks to climate change and global warming, areas that usually have seen little rain and high temperatures are now experiencing flooding, temperature fluctuations, and wildfires, all of which can kill snakes quickly.
In the wild, a snake can expect to live between two and eight years. Older snakes are usually larger species (such as green anacondas and reticulated pythons) that have outgrown apex predators.
However, in the cushy setup of a reptile-lover’s home, snakes can double their wild lifespan quite easily.
7 Popular Pet Snakes And Their Lifespans
If you’re interested in making this long-term commitment, here is some basic information on seven of the most popular pet snakes.
1. Ball Python
Ball pythons are one of the easiest snakes to look after because they have very calm temperaments and do well with handling. This makes them very popular in the pet trade. Breeders have been breeding ball pythons to have unique color variations (morphs) to make them more desirable.
|Lifespan||30 years on average with many exceeding 40 years|
|Adult size||3 to 6 feet ( 1 to 2 meters)|
|Enclosure orientation||Large and horizontal|
Fun fact: Did you know that the ball python is also known as the royal python because, in some African cultures, royalty used to adorn themselves in live pythons and wear them as jewelry.
Kingsnakes are very recognizable and, even though they are mildly venomous, they are an excellent choice for mid-level snake enthusiasts who enjoy handling snakes because of their hefty size.
|Lifespan||20 to 25 years on average|
|Adult size||3.3 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 meters)|
|Enclosure orientation||Large and horizontal|
|Venomous||Mild, rear-fanged (can cause slight irritation at bite site)|
Fun fact: Kingsnakes are rear-fanged snakes, which means they have to chew on their prey (or your hand) to release a lot of venom.
3. Boa Constrictor (BCI)
Boa constrictors are large and in charge! These snakes enjoy having large and highly enriched enclosures to explore. They can become quite cuddly with their owners through regular, gentle handling.
|Lifespan||20 to 30 years|
|Adult size||7 to 12 feet (2 to 3.6 meters)|
|Enclosure orientation||Extra large, mostly horizontal with vertical climbing space|
Fun fact: Extra-large boa constrictor females that receive excellent care can grow up to 14 feet and weigh up to 60 pounds!
4. Milk Snake
Milk snakes developed a form of mimicry to look like their much deadlier counterpart: the coral snake. This mimicry generally helps them be ignored by predators, who think they are coral snakes.
There is an old saying that goes, “Red on black is a friend of Jack; red on yellow is a deadly fellow” to judge whether a snake is a coral snake or a milk snake. Unfortunately, this old adage is misleading as the bands of color are not always in the same order and can vary.
|Lifespan||12 to 21 years|
|Adult size||3.2 to 4.2 feet (1 to 1.3 meters)|
|Enclosure orientation||Medium and horizontal|
|Venomous||Mild, rear-fanged (not dangerous to humans)|
Fun fact: The milk snake gets its name from an old myth that said they used to suck the milk from a cow’’s udder because they are often found in nice warm barns.
5. Corn Snake
Corn snakes are excellent beginner snakes because they are calm, hardy, and have a decent amount of girth to their bodies, which makes them easy to handle but not too big to be intimidating.
|Lifespan||15 to 20 years|
|Adult size||4 to 6 feet (0.6 to 1.8 meters)|
|Enclosure orientation||Medium and horizontal with space to climb|
6. Green Tree Python
Green tree pythons are ornamental pet snakes because they are stunning to look at. The snakelets (baby snakes) are born bright red, yellow, or brown to blend in with the forest floor.
Once they reach 6 to 12 months old, they start to develop their stunning green color, which helps them blend in with the forest canopy where they live.
|Lifespan||15 to 20 years|
|Adult size||Average at 5 feet (1.5 meters)|
|Enclosure orientation||Large and vertical with lots of climbing perches|
Fun fact: Green tree pythons have over 100 teeth and can give a nasty bite. These snakes do not like to be handled and are known for their grumpy natures.
7. Carpet Python
There are different varieties of carpet pythons with some living in desert conditions and others living in tropical jungle conditions, so make sure you know which one you have before starting your setup.
|Lifespan||25 to 35 years|
|Adult size||8 to 13 feet (2.5 to 4 meters)|
|Enclosure orientation||Extra large with horizontal and vertical space|
Fun fact: Carpet pythons get their name from their markings, which look a lot like an oriental carpet pattern.
8 Care Tips To Help Your Snake Live A Long Life
Regardless of what weird or wonderful snake you decide to bring home, top-notch care is essential if you want them to live to the fullest extent of their lifespan. The biggest concern you should have is reducing the amount of physical and mental stress your snake experiences.
1. Enclosure Size
You should also consider whether the tank needs to be horizontal or vertical. For example, a green tree python is going to be very unhappy and incredibly stressed out in a tank with no vertical climbing space.
A snake needs to explore and get exercise while also feeling secure in their environment. Bark hidey holes, plastic hidey holes, upturned flower pots, or heavy leaf litter and foliage are all options you can add to the enclosure for your snake to coil up inside to feel safe. New scents and places to explore and hide all provide mental enrichment.
When considering hides, make sure they are large enough for your snake to fit their entire body in but small enough that they feel snug and secure.
Different snakes have different needs regarding humidity. Some species need close to 80% humidity (such as rainbow boas) while others only require 50% humidity (such as rat snakes), and if they are in the wrong environment, they will become stressed, sick, and die.
Sphagnum moss is an excellent medium to use to maintain humidity in a snake enclosure.
You will need a thermometer on each end of your enclosure’s thermal gradient to keep a very close eye on how hot and cold it is. Because they’re exothermic, snakes move between warm and cold to control their body temperature.
Heat lamps are a great way to create thermal gradients.
Using a misting system will help maintain the humidity in high-humidity enclosures. Green tree pythons need such high humidity that they actually drink the water droplets on their scales rather than from a water bowl.
A dehydrated snake is a dead snake. Adequate hydration is essential to keeping your snake alive and healthy.
Your snake’s diet will depend on what species it is. However, all snakes will need a calcium supplement added to their prey items to ensure overall health and longevity.
Snakes poop after every meal and it’s a nasty poop. Keeping your snake clean and fresh is paramount to keeping them healthy.
8. Vet Visits
Yearly vet visits will help keep your snake around longer. Exotic pet vets or reptile specialists will help you identify what you’re doing right and wrong with your snake’s diet, enclosure setup, and overall maintenance.
FAQs About How Long Snakes Live
How does breeding affect my snake’s lifespan?
Breeding doesn’t affect a male snake’s lifespan in captivity. However, the process of laying eggs does take a toll on a female snake’s body. As a female snake develops the eggs, her body actually breaks down her bones and uses that calcium for the offspring!
Most female snakes will also stay coiled around their eggs until they hatch. They don’t leave the eggs to eat and constantly shiver to generate heat. This burns calories that the female snake doesn’t replace until months later.
This incredibly laborious task reduces a female snake’s overall lifespan.
What was the oldest snake ever recorded?
In 2020, a ball python at the Saint Louis Zoo laid a clutch of eggs when she was 62 years old! This is an extreme example of how good care combined with a little bit of luck can result in a long and productive life.
How long does a snake live after you cut its head off?
You may have seen or heard of a snake’s jaws snapping shut, or its body writhing around after it had been killed or even beheaded; however, snakes do not live after you cut their heads off.
They can move and twitch for a little while after being killed, because their nerves are still firing randomly but not with any thought or intention behind it. This means you can be bitten and envenomated by a venomous snake even after it’s dead.
If you’re in the mood for some other fascinating facts about reptiles, head over to this article to have your mind blown!
Slithering Off On A Snake’s Lifespan…
How long pet snakes live depends on how well they are cared for by their humans. Generally, pet snakes live more than double their wild lifespan because they are safe from predators and harsh weather changes.
To keep your snake happy, healthy, and living a good life remember these helpful care tips:
- House your snake in an appropriately sized enclosure that matches their natural environment as much as possible.
- Provide your snake with a quality diet to ensure they have all the nutrients they need to maintain their bodies.
- Check your enclosure settings daily to keep them optimal and reduce stress on your snake.
- Always clean up your snake’s messes as soon as they happen.