Have you found yourself time and again wondering whether snakes need and drink water? This is one of the all-time myths about snakes that have been widely adopted due to the fact that snakes have forked tongues. The truth is that snakes do indeed drink water as they need it for survival, and the lack of it leads to their eventual death due to dehydration. Snakes are, however, adapted to getting water into their systems through a sponge-like action and absorption, which differs considerably from human beings and other animals. Their split fork tongues are ineffective at scooping and cupping water as other animals would.
Demystifying Other Myths About Snakes Drinking Water
There seem to be many myths about snakes drinking water which we shall demystify.
1. Snakes drink water like humans
False. Human beings have a buccinator muscle that allows us to pull or suck water into our mouths and down our throats. Snakes do not have this muscle to aid with their water consumption but have an inbuilt mechanism that allows them to absorb water through their skin.
2. Snakes don’t drink water at all because they don’t need it
False. Snakes need and drink water because they need it for survival. In this piece, we further discuss more about a snake’s water needs and how best to meet these needs safely.
3. Snakes get all their water from food
This isn’t entirely true. Some snakes, especially those that feed on frogs, fish, and other water-dense creatures, gain water from their meals. However, most snakes still need to drink water from another source to quench their thirst.
How Do Snakes Hydrate?
Snakes have a novel way of drinking water. As you may have noticed, when watching a snake eat, their mouths can become very large to accommodate their meal. Their expanding mouths contain substantive tissue, particularly on the bottom jaw. As a result, most snake breeds use their bottom jaw to absorb and drink water.
A snake’s bottom jaw has many grooves that act like a sponge when they drink water. After the water is absorbed, it is then pushed down their throats using the jaw muscle. Similar to how they eat, snakes use these same muscles to push water down their bodies. This unique ability to ‘siphon’ water is key to the drinking function. Snakes tend to make their mouths airtight when drinking water, resulting in the front of their mouth looking like a straw. This helps snakes to effectively absorb water into their mouths and force it down their digestive systems.
What Type of Water Is Appropriate for Snakes?
Owners are advised to use filtered or bottled water for their pet snakes because they both don’t have any chemicals that may be detrimental to your pet snake’s health. On the other hand, distilled water lacks essential minerals that snakes need for their survival, and therefore it is highly discouraged. It is important to ensure fresh and clean water is always available in your snake’s vivarium to ensure they remain strong and healthy. As long as the water is safe for you to drink, it is safe for your snake as well.
What Is the Significance of Water to Snakes?
Just as water is essential for the survival of human beings, so is it for the survival of your pet snake as well. Water and sunlight are the main sources of a snakes’ calcium. Dehydration can cause calcium deficiency, also known as hypocalcemia.
How Much Water Do Snakes Need?
Different snake species have different water requirements. Snakes need sufficient water in their bowls or basins enough to soak in. Some species enjoy soaking in this water not only to cool off and drink it for digestion purposes but also to help loosen their skin prior to shedding.
Signs of a Dehydrated Snake
One of the most straightforward ways to determine if your snake is dehydrated is by gently pinching the skin on its neck and letting go. The skin should quickly go back to its original position. If not, and the skin stays pinched for a short period, it is a clear indication that your snake is dehydrated.
Here are some telltale signs that signify your pet snake is dehydrated:
- Folding of skin or formation of wrinkles around the neck
- Cracked eye caps
- Failure of skin to snap back to place after a gentle pinch
- Dryness of inner-mouth and tongue
- Muscle loss and loss of weight
- Difficulty in shedding
The best treatment for mild cases of dehydration is by soaking your snake in a bowl of water, as it will always drink a little of it when soaked. In dehydration cases that are beyond mild, veterinarian care is highly recommended.
FAQs About Snake Hydration
Do snakes get thirsty?
Although snakes are well adapted to water conservation, those mostly in salty water environments and deserts get thirsty and go looking for fresh water to quench their thirst and maintain water balance.
Do snakes need water to survive?
Just like all the other living creatures, snakes need water for their survival. The lack of water within their systems causes dehydration which eventually leads to death.
Is tap water safe for my snake?
Tap water consists of healthy minerals that are beneficial for your snake’s growth. Nevertheless, the quality of your tap water varies depending on your location and the water safety standards in your locality. Water treatment chemicals like chlorine and other additives in tap water may be harmful to your snake. Filtration of tap water is important to eliminate traces of ammonia and nitrates, which are equally harmful.
Can snakes absorb water through their skin?
Yes, snakes can absorb water through their permeable skin. Snakes can stay hydrated by soaking in water and absorbing it through their skin. It helps keep their skin clean and conditioned.
Can snakes drink bottled water?
Bottled water is safe for your snake as it is enriched with minerals, and better still, it goes through a purification process, whereby chlorides and fluorides get eliminated.
Can snakes drown in their water bowl?
Snakes can drown in their water bowls if they are not shallow enough for them. Deep bowls for some snake morphs can lead to the death of their baby snakes through drowning, as the corn snakes like spending more time in the bowl before the start of their shedding cycle.
In conclusion, water is an important necessity that snakes depend on for their survival. Their adaptation to absorb water through their skin and drink with the aid of their sponge-like jaw still differs between species and remains a topic of great fascination to snake lovers and owners alike.