How Long Can Snakes Go Without Water? [A Simple Guide To Follow]

Snakes are fascinating creatures. They have evolved to be the perfect predator by adapting their skills and senses over time. One of the most amazing adaptations is how they can go without water for long periods of time.

But how long exactly?

How long can snakes go without water? Wild snakes can go without water for weeks or months, but pet snakes, and snakes in captivity in general, should only stay without water for a week or so. The exact amount will depend on the species of the snake.

This is important info to know if you want to make sure your snake stays healthy and happy, and there is quite a bit more to it, as you may have expected.

Keep reading as I go through how much water your snake needs and how often it should get water in order to remain hydrated and happy.

How long can wild snakes go without water?

thirsty snake to show how long can snakes go without water

Snakes are cold-blooded animals, which means they don’t need as much water as most other warm-blooded animals. Freshwater is nevertheless still necessary for them to survive.

Snakes can obtain water from different sources in the wild, including rivers, lakes, or rainwater puddles. They tend to use their strong sense of smell to track these water sources. If there are no standing water sources around, they will collect rainwater or dewdrops on their backs and gradually drink it.

During rainfall, experts have witnessed different wild snake species, including desert-horned adders, rattlesnakes, and sidewinders, keeping their bodies in a flat position to collect rainwater on their backs.

Snakes will also come out from dens to drink accumulated rainwater water or eat snow during the winter brumation period. If you don’t know what that is, you can learn more about Brumation in this article on why snakes hibernate in houses.

As for snake species that live near saltwater sources like the pelagic sea snakes, they cannot drink salt water and will also require freshwater to survive. In this case, these snakes drink rainwater from the shore before it mixes with the saltwater. They can usually go without drinking freshwater for up to 6 to 7 months.

Due to their slower digestive systems, snakes have slow metabolic rates, which means they can survive without food much longer than they can survive without water.

How Long Can Pet Snakes Go Without Water?

Fortunately for pet snakes, finding a source of fresh water is not a concern as their owner will prepare a suitable living environment for them at home. Their tank should have a dish with clean water for soaking as well as proper humidity levels.

The snake’s water dish should be placed in the cooler part of the tank to minimize evaporation, and the water in the dish should be changed at least once a week. If the snake tends to bathe in the water dish, then the water should be changed more frequently, at least 2 to 3 times a week.

To clean the water dish, make sure to use reptile-safe soap without any artificial scents. You must clean the water regularly, especially if you notice your snake turning it into a toilet.

If you’re worried about chemicals in your snake’s water, make sure to filter the tap water before you pour it into their dish. You can also use bottled water instead of tap water.

Keep in mind that you may need to remove the snake’s water dish from the tank in certain situations. For example, if the snake needs mite treatment, its water dish must be emptied for a week.

However, most snakes will survive just fine without any water for a week or even more, so you don’t need to worry about it too much. For example, ball pythons can stay without any water for up to 12 days without any problems.

Still, even if you are sure that your snake can survive without water for a week or longer, you try not to let it go over a week without water to be safe.

How to Tell Your Pet Snake Needs Water?

In case your snake has to go without water for a monthly deep clean or a weeklong mite treatment, you need to monitor it to make sure it’s not dehydrated.

Dehydration may cause more severe health issues to snakes in the long term, even though your snake may appear to be doing just fine.

One of the most common indicators of dehydration in snakes is shedding in flaky pieces instead of shedding in one continuous piece.

Other indicators that your snake is dehydrated and needs water include:

  • Brittle and stiff skin
  • Dry or wrinkly skin
  • Constipation
  • Eyes receding
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lack of energy (when it’s not brumation time)

If you notice one or more of these indicators, it’s time to take things a bit more seriously.

Since you cannot provide the with a water dish during their mite treatment, you can use an eyedropper to drop some water through their noses. If your snake is still dehydrated, you need to take it to a vet.

The vet will give your snake the fluids it needs through feeding tubes or injections. The vet will also tell you whether dehydration is affecting other parts of your snake’s health.

How often to give your pet snake water?

On average, you need to add fresh water to your snake’s dish every week (after cleaning the dish of course). You don’t need to provide water for your snake every day.


Water is an important part of your snake’s environment. However, you don’t need to provide water for them every day–just make sure to change the water weekly and clean their dish.

If you see any signs of dehydration, give your snake some water using an eyedropper. If they still refuse to drink, take them to a vet.

Helpful Resources

This Snake Can Survive Months Without Water

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