Why Is My Snake Drinking So Much?

Many snake owners report that they rarely catch their pets drinking from their water bowls, so if you suddenly notice that your snake has been drinking a lot of water, you may be wondering what’s going on.

So why is my snake drinking so much? Your snake may be drinking more as a result of low humidity, high temperatures, dehydration, or the shedding process.

In this article, we’ll discuss the four main reasons why your snake may be drinking more water than usual. We’ll go over enclosure temperatures, ideal humidity levels, the shedding process, and causes and treatment for dehydration.

What Causes Snakes to Drink More Water?

There are several reasons why your snake might increase its water intake. Some of these reasons have to do with your pet’s environment. Either temperatures are too high, or humidity is too low. Your snake also might drink extra water in preparation for the shedding process. Finally, your snake’s diet may play a part as well; if your pet is dehydrated, that could cause it to drink more water. 

Temperatures

Snakes are ectothermic, or cold-blooded. This means that they rely on their environments to help them regulate their body temperatures. Because of this, snakes require a thermal gradient in their enclosures: One end of the enclosure is cooler, and the temperature gradually increases throughout the tank until you reach the warm end or basking area.

If temperatures are too hot, your snake may drink more water or even spend more time soaking in its water bowl in an attempt to cool off and escape the heat. 

Temperatures should range from 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit on the cool end of the enclosure and 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit on the warm side. There should also be a basking area around 88 to 92 degrees Fahrenheit.

As an important side note, remember that your snake needs two identical hides, one on the cool side and the other on the warm side. This way it will feel safe and secure regardless of the location needed for thermoregulation.

Remember to always use a heat source with a thermostat, and be sure to have some reliable digital thermometers on hand so that you can easily monitor the conditions of your snake’s tank.

Humidity

Humidity is another important factor to consider if your snake has been drinking a lot of water. In order to stay hydrated, snakes not only drink water but also take in moisture from the air. If they’re not provided with enough humidity, snakes will do whatever they can to take in the moisture they need. This could mean drinking more water or soaking in their water bowl.

The optimal humidity level for snakes is around 60%. You can increase it a bit more if your pet is getting ready to shed; increased moisture helps the shed to come off successfully in one piece.

Snakes that are recovering from illness can also benefit from a little extra humidity. But generally, 60% is a good level to stick to. It’s wise to invest in a hygrometer, which measures humidity level, in order to really stay on top of your snake husbandry.

Shedding

Another reason that your pet snake may be drinking more water than usual is because it’s getting ready to shed. A successful shed requires your snake to be properly hydrated, so it’s not uncommon for snakes to take in as much moisture as they can when they’re preparing to shed.

In addition to drinking extra water, soaking is also pretty common because it encourages a successful shed. The additional moisture helps to move the process along smoothly.

If your snake is about to shed, you can do your part to help it by increasing the humidity in its enclosure and providing a moist hide. All you have to do is add some wet moss to the inside of your snake’s hide to make its environment more ideal for shedding.

Dehydration

There’s long been a common myth floating around that snakes don’t drink water. This simply isn’t true, and it’s actually necessary to provide your pet snake with fresh water on a daily basis. Snakes can get dehydrated just like other animals and humans can. 

Causes of Dehydration

Lack of available water, low humidity, and lack of moisture in meals can all contribute to dehydration.

  • If no water bowl is provided for your snake or the water bowl isn’t large enough for your snake to soak in, it may become dehydrated.
  • If humidity levels fall below 60%, your snake won’t get the moisture it needs from its environment.
  • If you feed your snake prey that’s overly dried-out and has been in the freezer for a long time, the lack of moisture in your pet’s diet can play a part in dehydration.

How to Prevent Dehydration

First, maintain humidity levels around 60%, or a little higher if your snake is getting ready to shed. Then, you’ll need to purchase a high-quality water bowl for your snake’s enclosure and provide your pet with fresh water every day.

Although many snakes don’t drink a lot of water, it’s still important to provide a water bowl for your pet. Some snakes really enjoy soaking in their water bowl to stay hydrated rather than drinking from it. 

When choosing your snake’s water bowl, you’ll want to select a durable and nonporous material that’s easy to clean. Sturdy plastic or ceramic are good choices. It’s also wise to pick a bowl that’s hard to tip over, and make sure that it’s large enough for your snake to fit in in case it wants to soak.

Keep the water bowl on the cool side of your snake’s enclosure so the water doesn’t evaporate as quickly or get warmed up by the heat source. Bottled water or filtered water are the best kinds of water to provide for your snake, because they don’t contain any dangerous chemicals but do provide various minerals.

Stay away from distilled water, which doesn’t have the minerals your snake needs. 

Remember that you’ll need to clean your snake’s water bowl frequently. This is especially important to do if you have a pet snake that loves to soak. Bits of dead skin and bacteria can quickly build up if you don’t keep up with cleaning your pet’s water bowl.

You can also give your pet snake weekly soaks to take in additional moisture and stay hydrated. Simply fill your bathtub or a large plastic storage container with warm water high enough to cover your snake. Then allow it to soak for 20 to 30 minutes, never leaving your pet unsupervised.

Symptoms of Dehydration

The symptoms of dehydration in snakes include:

  • Dented or sunken eyes, or cracked eye caps
  • Problems with shedding
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Skin that doesn’t snap back after being pinched
  • Dried-out feces
  • Dry, sticky saliva
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
photo provided by AceMackin Photography

Treatment for Dehydration

You can easily treat minor dehydration at home. The first thing to do is increase humidity levels, using a hygrometer to ensure that they’re at least 60%. Next, create a moist hide by adding wet sphagnum moss to the inside of one or both of your snake’s hides. This allows your snake to take in more moisture from the air in its enclosure. 

Of course, be sure to provide fresh water in a bowl large enough to soak in. You’ll also want to give your dehydrated snake electrolyte soaks in order to rehydrate it.

For an electrolyte soak, you’ll need: 

  • A large plastic storage tub with a lid
  • A small heating pad with a thermostat
  • Gatorade, Pedialyte, or another electrolyte supplement
  • Paper towels 

Set the heating pad to 82 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit and place the plastic storage tub on top of it. Fill it to a depth of one inch with a mixture of three parts electrolyte supplement to one part water.

Give the water 15 minutes or so to warm up before placing your snake inside to soak up the moisture and nutrients. Close the lid and let your snake soak for up to an hour. After soaking, carefully wipe off any residue from the electrolyte solution with a damp washcloth and gently dry your snake before returning it to its enclosure. 

In more serious cases, you’ll need to take your snake to the vet to be treated for dehydration. The vet may put your snake in a humidity chamber or provide fluid therapy through a bath. They may also administer intravenous fluids. 

Conclusion

If your snake has been drinking a lot more water than usual, there are a few different things that could be going on. First, there could be an issue with the snake’s enclosure. The temperature may be too high, or the humidity level might be too low.

Another possibility is that your snake is preparing to shed. Finally, a snake that’s drinking a lot of water may be dehydrated.

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