Most people without experience of keeping snakes expect these creatures to spend most of their time curled up in a ball in their enclosure without moving much at all. But when a snake becomes much more active, it can appear to inexperienced eyes as though it is acting strange and perhaps giving the impression that maybe something is wrong.
Well, there are a few reasons why a snake might become more active than expected. The first is the simple reason that it may be hungry. Snakes are naturally going to move about more when on the hunt for food.
When in their natural habitat, snakes react to certain smells in their surroundings that alert them to the presence of food or danger. When sensing food is about, they start to move, albeit slowly. For most snakes, stealth and surprise are their two most important tools. They typically like to ambush their prey by lying in wait where they expect it to be.
Snakes in captivity do not need to lie in wait as food is provided for them. However, when hungry you might notice your snake begin to move about more looking for something to eat.
Is Your Snake Looking for a Mate?
Male snakes also become more active when on the lookout for a mate. Most healthy snakes reach sexual maturity between two and three years old (depending on the species). There are some types of snake, such as the Burmese python and the black rat snake, which take another two to three years before being ready to reproduce.
In the wild, a snake’s breeding season is activated by a variety of factors such as sunlight, temperature, rainfall, and the availability of food. Males can become aggressive as they search for females and will fight with other male snakes for the attentions of the female. They try to show off their strength and dominance so as to be the one she chooses. Nevertheless, not all females are keen to reproduce at that particular time as they require good energy stores and must be in good health. Carrying live young can be physically draining for snakes, so it is up to the female to mate or not.
In captivity, male snakes might become more active when they reach sexual maturity as they search for a female to mate with, so you might notice an increase in activity when your snake reaches around four or five years old.
Sometimes a sudden increase in the activity in a snake will be the result of environmental factors or poor husbandry. It could be something as simple as an incorrect humidity level or an ambient temperature that is too high.
Most exotic pets require very specific conditions that replicate their natural environment. As snakes are cold blooded creatures, they require an external heat source. You will need to have a temperature gradient in your snake’s enclosure with a cool and warm side. The cool side should be between 75F and 80F, while the warm end needs to be between 85F and 95F. If temperatures get too high, your snake might become distressed and discontented.
The environment should also be humid to assist, among other things, with the shedding process. The actual humidity level required will depend on the type of snake you have, which makes sense as different snakes hail from different regions of the world. It is important to do your research before buying any snake to ensure you can create an environment that is as close to its natural habitat as possible.
Is Your Snake Naturally More Active?
While snakes are not particularly known for being active creatures, there are certain species of snake that are more active than others. Those that tend to be more active are usually the smaller and lighter variety that nature has designed to be active hunters. Such snakes include milk snakes, rat snakes, and corn snakes. Other larger snakes, like ball pythons, do not actively hunt; rather, these species lie in wait for prey to come to them.
As discussed, some snakes are naturally more active than others but if you have noticed that your snake has become more active than usual, there is likely a good reason for it. The main reasons will be hunger, searching for a mate, or incorrect temperature or humidity levels. It is also worth checking to ensure that your snake’s enclosure is large enough for it to move around in. If it is too cramped, the snake might feel uncomfortable and may be trying to find a way to escape.
- Featured Image (Caramel Burmese Python): Mark J Andrews II – CC BY-SA 3.0.
- Red Milk Snake: Mike Pingleton – CC BY-SA 3.0.
- Rough Green Snake: Asklēpiós – CC BY-SA 4.0.
- Ball Python: Mokele – CC BY-SA 3.0.
- Green Tree Python: Micha L. Rieser
- Corn Snake: public domain.
- Boa Constrictor: Pavel Ševela – CC BY-SA 4.0.
- Western Hognose Snake: LA Dawson – CC BY-SA 2.5.