Do Snakes Sleep?

The fact that snakes lack eyelids has always been a source of curiosity among many people. We often wonder whether snakes do sleep, and if so, how. The truth is that snakes, just like other creatures and specifically reptiles, do sleep. Recent studies have shown that snakes can sleep for up to 20 hours a day, twice the hours you sleep over the weekends. Interesting! 

Most people maintain the myth that snakes don’t sleep. However, snakes’ brains regulate their sleeping mechanisms enabling them to sleep with their eyes open. Snakes lack what is commonly known as eyelids and hence tend to sleep with their eyes open. It is for this same reason that snakes also do not blink. The ocular scale in their eyes is responsible for the eyes’ hydration and protection from debris and other irritants. 

So, How Do Snakes Sleep? 

Have you found yourself time and again wondering how snakes grab some z’s with their eyes open? Well, you aren’t alone. Snakes indeed lack what is commonly known as eyelids. Instead, they have a brille. The brille is also known as the ocular scale, spectacle, or eye cap. It serves as a protective layer that prevents dust and keeps air out of the eye while keeping the eyeball invariably hydrated.  

Snakes, among other reptiles, can fall into states of REM or rapid eye movement sleep. This is a unique sleeping phase in birds and mammals characterized by rapid eye movement. Additionally, reptiles can also experience another stage of sleep called slow-wave sleep, also called synchronized, quiet, or non-REM sleep. It is the deepest phase of non-rapid eye movement sleep, or simply a phase 3 sleep.

How Do I Tell If a Snake Is Sleeping?

Snakes lack eyelids, which has always caused a great challenge when telling whether your pet snake is asleep. However, just like other living creatures, snakes do need to take a rest and sleep at times. Consequently, you need to learn techniques that can help you tell when your pet is asleep to properly provide good care and avoid interrupting its sleep.

If your pet snake has eaten recently, he will probably get sleepier than usual. A big meal will make your snake drowsy and sleep for up to 20 hours after feeding. Another clue to help you tell whether the snake is asleep is by observing its position. A snake can remain in the same position for hours while hunting, but if he’s not constantly flicking its tongue as usual, then you can tell that he’s asleep. Furthermore, you may observe their reaction when you open the snake’s cage gently or passing around the area. Failure to react is a perfect indicator that your pet snake is asleep.

Snake’s sleep differs across various species. Some snakes like the green tree pythons find comfort sleeping on trees, while other terrestrial snakes like ball pythons sleep in cave-like structures. It is essential to provide your pet snake with safe conditions to help them get a restful sleep. Wherever your pet snake feels safest is where they will sleep. 

FAQs on Snakes Sleep

How long do snakes sleep?

Snakes have been known to sleep up to 16 hours a day. During winter seasons, they can sleep up to over 20 hours at a time after eating. Snakes commonly tend to get more vulnerable and tired after a mammoth meal. Consequently, they look for a safe place for rest and slumber as they allow for the digestion of their prey.

Do snakes sleep at night?

The response to this question solely depends on species because snake’s sleep patterns are different across their species. We can classify snakes into three types. First, some snakes can be active during the day and the night, depending on the time of the year or eating patterns. Other snakes are active during the day and dormant during nighttime. Such snakes are diurnal. The third type consists of snakes that are active during the night and remain dormant during day time. Such snakes are said to be nocturnal. 

What is brumation in snakes?

Brumation is a state or condition of inactivity or sluggishness exhibited by snakes during winter or extended periods of low temperature. During brumation, a snake may bury itself completely underground or go to the darkest, coolest part of its enclosure. It may fail to eat, drink, defecate or move about for a couple of weeks during this period.

Do snakes sleep on their back?

Some snakes roll over their backs when they die. However, female snakes preparing to lay eggs tend to flip onto their back because it helps reduce pressure. Others are believed to do the same as they die to relieve pressure and pain.

Do snakes sleep curled up?

Habitually, snakes curl their bodies into a ball and tuck their head when they are sleeping. Their bodies get more relaxed when they sleep curled up.

Do snakes sleep during hibernation?

Yes, snakes do sleep during hibernation, but unlike mammals, they do not go through full hibernation. Instead, they go through brumation. During this period, they still wake and forage for food and water, then return to the state of hibernation. Snakes use less energy during hibernation and thus can go for longer periods before they feed.

Why do snakes sleep over winter?

Snakes are adapted to sleep and go through a state of hibernation or brumation during winter. This helps them regulate their body through the winter by lowering their body temperature and slowing their metabolic activities.

In a nutshell, despite the lack of eyelids, snakes do indeed sleep like all other living creatures. Their brains are mainly responsible for their sleep. When they decide to turn in, they don’t have to initiate the process by shutting their eyes.


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