Can You Sleep with Your Pet Snake?

You know you are really into snakes when you wait for your snake to close her cute little eyes first.

Unfortunately, you would have a really long wait, because snakes can’t close their eyes. But snakes do sleep. Just not necessarily at night.

Many snake owners wonder if they can sleep with their snakes (just like pet dogs or cats).

It’s usually not a good idea to sleep with your pet snake.

Let’s take a quick look at the main reasons why.

7 Reasons It Isn’t a Good Idea to Sleep with Your Pet Snake

The reasons it isn’t a good idea to sleep with your pet snake may not be what you expect.

Here are the seven main reasons to leave your snake alone in his enclosure while you sleep.

You can Fracture Delicate Bones in Snakes

Snakes have brittle bones. It would be very easy for you to roll over on your snake and fracture one of its vertebrae.

Big vet bills could follow.

Sleeping with your snake is more likely to injure your snake than your snake is likely to injure you.

If your snake has eaten recently, it could throw up

Snakes don’t just take a long time to swallow their food. They also take a long time to digest their food, usually two or three days.

During that time, the prey animal is being broken down by stomach acid.

A snake’s stomach acids have to digest the outer layers of the animal before they reach the inner organs.

If you were to roll over on your snake in the middle of the night, it might throw up in the bed.

Snake vomit smells awful, and it can also carry Salmonella.

Your snake probably doesn’t want to sleep with you

Most people are more active during the day, but most snakes are more active at night.

Most snakes (we list a few exceptions in the Frequently Asked Questions section below) would wriggle away from you as soon as possible.

If your snake didn’t crawl away to check out your puppies, your kittens, or your kids, it might curl and hide behind a baseboard, or maybe in your shower (as once happened to the writer of this article).

There wouldn’t be any cuddle time and your snake would just be worn out the next morning.

Your bed doesn’t have the right temperature and humidity

Unless you like to sleep at 90 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius) with a vaporizer on, chances are that your snake would not be comfortable in your bed.

Even if your snake were to crawl under the covers with you, it might still be too cold, but not damp enough.

Comfortable sleeping for you is not at all the same as comfortable sleeping for your snake.

Big snakes need supervision

If you have one of the species referred to as the “Big Four,” a Green Anaconda, African Rock Python, Burmese Python, or Reticulated Python, trying to sleep with them is essentially letting them roam around without supervision.

It’s an invitation for your big snake to find a way to slither out and explore the rest of your house.

That would include the sleeping quarters of your kids, your guests, or Grandma and Grandpa in the mother-in-law suite.

Or maybe your big snake would find its way outside. Neighbors are likely to call Animal Control or the police, and this can endanger your snake.

Don’t let big snakes escape at night.

Snakes pee and poop at will

You can’t train your snake to be housebroken.

They can and will often relieve themselves wherever they feel like it and whenever they feel like it.

Reptile excreta tends to be very smelly, and you certainly don’t want to smell it when trying to sleep.

Snake mites can also bite people

It’s rare for pet snakes to bite their humans, except at feeding time. (Many snakes don’t have very good aim, and will bite the hands of their owners feeding them, or other snakes in their enclosure.)

However, the Ophionyssus natricis mites that infest snakes can also infest people.

These mites cause breaking out in red, oozy, pus-filled pustules that are similar to a very bad case of acne.

Unlike acne, a case study in a medical journal reported, these mite bites are very itchy. Snakes can’t scratch their mite bites, but humans won’t want to stop.

There are some snakes that seem to bond with their human owners.

Most snakes just eventually become accustomed to humans and stop feeling afraid of them.

If your snake wants to cuddle, it’s usually because you are even warmer than their heating lamp.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sleeping Snakes & Sleeping with Snakes

Q. How can I tell if my snake is sleeping?

A. Snakes don’t have eyelids, so they sleep with their eyes open. (Instead of an eyelid, a snake eye has a clear protective membrane called a brille. The brille comes down over a snake’s eye while it is sleeping.)

Snakes never get “shut-eye,” but you can guess when they are sleeping.

  • Time of Day – There are just a few species of snakes, like hog-nosed snakes, patch-nosed snakes, sipos, and racers that are more active during the day than at night. Other snakes may be sleeping if they are inactive during the day.
  • Seasonal Differences – Most snakes spend 16 hours a day sleeping in the summer. They may spend as much as 20 hours a day sleeping during the winter.
  • Position – If a snake stays in the same position for hours without moving, it is probably sleeping. However, they may also stay motionless when they are hunting.
  • Brumation – Some snakes go into a kind of winter hibernation called brumation. If you open your snake’s enclosure when it is brumating, it may just ignore you. If you pick up a brumating snake, it may act confused for a few seconds, but it will go back to sleep when you lay it back down.

You can be startled when you are suddenly awakened from sleep, and your snake can be startled, too.

Be careful handling any snake you have suddenly awakened from sleep.

Q. Why does my snake like to sleep in his water bowl?

A. It’s not unusual for snakes to curl up for a nap in their water bowls. Some species, like anacondas and water snakes, spend much of their lives in the water and like to have a water bowl large enough to rest almost completely submerged.

But sometimes soaking is symptomatic of a health issue.

  • High Temperatures – Snakes depend on external sources of heat, but most pet snakes cannot tolerate temperatures much over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (about 33 degrees Celsius). If your pet isn’t an anaconda or a water snake and is sleeping in its water bowl, make sure the temperature in its enclosure isn’t too high.
  • Humidity Control – Some snakes require high-humidity environments. This is especially true of rainbow boas and viper boas. If the air in their enclosures dries out, they may retreat to their water bowls to keep the skin moist. Reducing air circulation may help keep humidity higher, but you don’t want to increase the humidity so much that the sides of the enclosure begin to fog up. If large patches of condensation appear, increase ventilation.
  • Mites – Mites are to snakes what fleas are to dogs. Sometimes snakes soak in their water dishes in an attempt to drown mites. If your snake seems to be soaking excessively, check for mites.
  • Shedding – Snakes require more water to stay hydrated when they are shedding their skin. If you provide your snake with a damp hide box, it may not spend a lot of time in its water bowl.

Q. My pet python climbed up next to me while I was sleeping on my bed and stretched out alongside me. Was it being affectionate? Or was it planning to eat me?

A. Your pet python wasn’t sizing you up as its next meal. Or even if it were, you’re probably too large to make your python’s lunch.

Let’s suppose for a moment that a python that wasn’t your pet crawled into your bed and stretched out alongside you. That python would not be measuring you to see if you were potential prey.

Pythons look at how wide their potential food is, not how long it is. The average width of a human shoulder is 15 to 18 inches.

There are very few pythons that can swallow an animal that is 15 to 18 inches wide. If your python is stretched out beside you, it is not trying to find out whether it is long enough to eat you.

A python may, however, regard you as a potential source of heat. Pythons are cold-blooded.

They cannot generate their own body heat. Humans can generate their own body heat. It’s possible your python just wanted to share your warmth.

The amount of heat it can absorb from you is maximized by stretching along your side from head to toe.

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