Why Is My Snake Blowing Bubbles In Its Water?

photo provided by AceMackin Photography

Snakes have lots of funny habits, but blowing bubbles may take you by surprise. Is it normal for snakes to blow bubbles, or is it a sign of a health problem? Is your pet trying to communicate something to you?

So why is my snake blowing bubbles in its water? While it may seem strange that your snake is blowing bubbles, it’s simply a way for your pet to entertain itself.

Below, we explain why snakes blow bubbles and what it means if your snake has bubbles coming out of its mouth when it’s on dry land. We also give you a great guide to enriching your snake’s life through different forms of entertainment and mental stimulation.

Why Do Snakes Blow Bubbles in the Water?

Similar to the way you’ve probably created bubbles in a glass of water by blowing through a straw, blowing bubbles in its water bowl is simply a form of entertainment for your pet snake.

While there doesn’t seem to be any official research on the topic, many ball python owners have reported that it’s a common behavior! Docile and aggressive snakes alike enjoy blowing bubbles in the water.

What if There Are Bubbles Coming Out of My Snake’s Mouth When It’s Not in the Water?

If there are bubbles or mucus around your snake’s nose and mouth when it’s on dry land, this is definitely something to worry about. These symptoms are usually signs of a respiratory infection, which makes it hard for your pet to breathe.

Respiratory infections can be very serious, so be sure to get your snake to the reptile veterinarian if you notice any bubbles coming from its nose.

Other signs of a respiratory infection include:

  • Wheezing and gurgling noises
  • Breathing with an open mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

In the case of a respiratory infection, a veterinarian will typically determine the cause of the infection and will prescribe medication accordingly. If caught in time, respiratory infections are usually treatable. But if you wait too long, respiratory infections can be fatal for snakes.

What Else Do Snakes Do for Entertainment?

Snakes are different from pets like cats and dogs. They don’t engage with toys the way mammals often do. Instead, snakes’ brains are mainly focused on survival. The best way to stimulate your snake mentally is to provide an interesting habitat for them to explore. A boring tank can actually cause stress to your pet.

Remember that in their natural habitat, snakes can spend hours traveling to find water or entire days hunting their prey. As a snake owner, it’s important to attempt to replicate a similar type of stimulation even in captivity! This way your snake will stay fit and avoid behavioral issues caused by boredom.

The Basics

At the very least, you’ll need a large water bowl and two hides for your snake’s tank. The hides should be placed on either side, so that your snake can feel safe and secure regardless of whether it needs to warm up or cool down. 

Creative Substrate

While many snake owners provide a substrate with a uniform depth over the entire surface of the tank, you can be more creative with your substrate in order to give your pet more to explore.

One suggestion is to keep the substrate deeper on one end to encourage burrowing, and put a lighter layer of substrate on the other end of the tank. You could also place plastic piping or toilet paper rolls underneath the substrate for your pet to explore. 

Another creative use of substrate is to use different types in different areas of your snake’s tank. Depending on the type of snake you have, the recommended substrates can vary. In general, you want to give your pet as many opportunities for enrichment as you can. 

Logs and Branches

Some fun accessories to add to your pet’s tank are logs or thick branches. Your snake will enjoy slithering over them, and this is a great way for your pet to get some exercise. Generally, one or two branches is sufficient, although you can add more if you’d like.

Make sure that the branches are sturdy and stable so that your snake can easily climb them. Although we don’t usually think of snakes as climbers, they’re definitely capable of it and sometimes hunt from trees in the wild.

Artificial Foliage

Security is essential for snakes, and artificial foliage provides plenty of places to hide and feel safe. It can also make your pet’s vivarium more aesthetically pleasing and nice to look at. While you can use live plants, remember that you’ll have to care for them regularly and be aware that snakes can damage live plants by slithering over them.

Fake plants are typically a better choice because they are hardier and don’t require any extra attention or care. An additional benefit is that they can help with shedding by giving your snake a rough surface to rub against.

Background

While adding a background to your snake’s vivarium might seem a little over the top, there are definitely some benefits to it. First, it makes your pet’s tank look nicer. But more importantly, adding a background to three sides of a glass tank can help your snake to feel more secure.

Some companies that make backgrounds for reptile tanks have even created 3D backgrounds with ledges and other fun climbing opportunities!

Handling

Although not all snakes enjoy being handled on a frequent basis, the majority of snakes do like to be taken out of their tanks and allowed to explore a larger environment. Some larger snakes even have a good time swimming in a kiddie pool!

When handling your snake, support its body and don’t hold it by the head or tail. This will help your pet to feel more secure and comfortable with you. If your snake struggles or tries to squirm out of your hand, don’t force it to interact with you.

Allow it to explore the room independently (while you supervise, of course). Some snakes will curl around your arms or make themselves at home on your shoulders, while others prefer slithering around on their own. It really just depends on your pet’s individual personality!

Snake-Proofing a Room

If you’re really dedicated to allowing your pet to explore, it’s a wise choice to snake-proof a room of your choice before allowing your snake to roam free. The easiest room to snake-proof is usually the bathroom.

Kitchens should be off-limits, as the large appliances are easy to crawl under and your snake can contaminate the areas where you prepare food. On the other hand, the bathroom is easy to clean and generally doesn’t contain a lot of clutter to begin with.

The first step is to plug drains and all other holes so that your snake doesn’t slither down them and get stuck or lost. Put away any glass objects or anything else that could be broken. Unplug all appliances and store them. Tape the toilet and cabinets shut.

Try to think like a snake! Analyze your bathroom through your pet’s eyes to see what else you’ll need to do to make it into a completely safe environment.

The ideal time for your snake to explore is after basking for a few hours. During the wintertime, your snake should only be out of its cage for a few hours at most. In the summertime, it can stay out as long as it likes–just don’t blast the air conditioning. 

Make sure to use nontoxic chemicals when cleaning the room. Although it does require some effort on your part, a snake-proof room results in peace of mind for you and an enriched life for your pet snake. 

Conclusion

If you notice your snake blowing bubbles in its water bowl, there’s nothing to worry about! Snakes do this for fun, and it’s completely normal. The only situation that should concern you is if your pet has mucus bubbles coming from its nose and mouth when it’s not in the water.

This is a sign of a respiratory infection, and you’ll need to get your pet to the vet as soon as you can.

One way to help your pet snake have fun is to add stimulating accessories to its environment. These include a more creative use of substrates, logs and sturdy branches, artificial foliage, and a background.

You can also regularly handle your snake to form a bond with it and encourage exploration and exercise. You can even snake-proof a room of your house to allow your pet to explore freely! By providing an enriching habitat and lots of opportunities to move around and explore, you’re helping your snake to stay healthy and happy.

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