How long can you expect your pet snake to live? The honest answer is “It depends.”
Different species of snakes have expected life spans of 5 to 40 years.
In this article, we’ll go over the expected life spans of the most popular snakes and what you need to do to help them achieve it.
Lifespan of Popular Pet Snakes
While I will cover each pet snake breed in detail later, if you want a quick rundown of the popular pet snakes and their lifespan, here is the details in a table:
|Snake Breed||Life Span|
|Ball Python||25 to 35 Years|
|Corn Snakes||20 to 25 Years|
|Hognose Snakes||12 to 18 Years|
|Ringneck Snakes||5 to 6 Years|
|Rubber Boas||15 Years or More|
Most Pet Snakes Live About 20 Years
There are about 4,000 species of snakes around the world. Over the last quarter of a century, snakes have become popular pets.
These slithery companions have a lot to offer.
Some snakes are hauntingly beautiful. Some can bond with their human keepers with a kind of affection.
Almost any snake stretches our understanding of the natural world, and they are great teaching tools for children learning about wildlife and ecosystems.
There’s just one catch to keeping snakes.
They can live a very long time.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest snake living in captivity is Annie, a green boa constrictor from South Africa. Annie was owned by a man named Paul Swires from 1989 to 2004.
He then gave her to a herpetarium in Johannesburg, South Africa called Monte Casino Bird & Reptile Park in Johannesburg. Swires continues to keep in touch with the reptile park and visits Annie regularly.
Annie is well cared for. She turned 38 in 2021.
We recommend having a 20-year plan for taking care of your snake.
Not all snakes will live to be 20 years old, but with most species commonly kept as pets, a 20-year lifespan is possible.
Many owners buy their pets when they are young and don’t want to keep them as they change their lifestyle.
It’s only fair to the snake to have a plan about what to do if you move on to a different phase of your life.
Before You Buy a Snake, Consider This
Good reptile care starts with a plan to keep your snake healthy and happy from the very beginning.
Here are a few things to consider before you take a snake home to be your pet.
Know your snake before you buy your snake
Don’t buy the first snake you see, and don’t take on the challenge of taking care of a “poor little snake” that looks unhealthy if you don’t have experience with snakes.
Leave complicated snake care challenges to experienced snake keepers.
Be sure you understand everything you will need to do to keep the kind of snake you buy happy and healthy.
Consider adult size. Some snakes will never grow very long.
A hognose snake, for example, will have a maximum length of about 24 inches (60 cm).
At the other extreme, it’s not unusual for boas and pythons to grow 9 feet (about 3 meters) long.
Make sure you aren’t squeamish about feeding your snake
Most pet snakes feed on previously frozen mice.
You may be able to vary your snake’s diet with insects or fish, but some people find feeding snakes an unpleasant experience.
Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a vegetarian snake.
However, there are products shaped like sausages (Reptilinks) that give snakes the protein and nutrients they need along with the animal scents they crave.
Be prepared to spend several hundred dollars or more on your snake’s terrarium.
You need to keep your snake secure so it does not slither away over to the neighbors’ place.
And you need to make sure that your snake has a home with the required variation in temperature, light, and humidity.
Good care is essential for ensuring your snake’s long life. Now let’s take a look at the expected lifespans of popular pet snakes.
Ball Pythons: 25 to 35 Years
Ball pythons can be fussy about the temperature and humidity in their enclosures, but with good care, they live a very long time, up to 35 years.
Most of the diseases that shorten the lives of ball pythons can be avoided with simple care.
Cleaning any enclosure that has held another snake will stop the spread of mites and other skin parasites.
Skin mites sometimes spread diseases that are fatal to ball pythons.
Avoiding excess humidity (so much moisture in the air that condensation collects on the glass of the cage) will reduce the risk of blister disease.
And it is also important to remember that ball pythons are native of the tropics. They need a warm side and a cool side of their cages, but they must never be exposed to severe cold.
You can also prevent disease by keeping your ball python’s water bowl clean.
It also helps to know that some ball pythons will fast for six or even seven months of the year, and nothing you do will persuade them to eat.
Keep offering them food on a regular basis, but let your vet make decisions about forced feeding.
Corn Snakes: 20 to 25 Years
Corn snakes come in a variety of gorgeous colors and patterns. They are easy to care for and non-aggressive.
They aren’t hard to breed in captivity, and their offspring will surprise their keepers with still more eye-catching colors.
There are several points in a corn snake’s life when it needs special care.
Corn snakes that have just been taken into their new home become severely stressed by unnecessary handling.
You should wait until you have fed your baby corn snake three or four times before you begin to handle it.
Be sure you approach your corn snake from the side instead of the top of its head. A predator would approach the snake from above.
Treat your corn snake gently but with confidence.
Hesitation causes your corn snake to become anxious, too. Anxious snakes and anxious owners are prone to unfortunate accidents
Your corn snake will be healthier if you keep it in its own enclosure, without other snakes.
Corn snakes are especially susceptible to food poisoning, which can be spread through fecal material, and to viruses that cause neurological diseases.
If you take good care of your corn snake, it will probably live to be 20 or more.
Hognose Snakes: 12 to 18 Years
Hognose snakes are popular pets because they are small, easy to maintain, and friendly.
They get along well with humans, but they have a variety of defense postures.
Hognose snakes may strike but not bite, hitting you with their closed mouth.
Or they may flatten their bodies into a hood, like a cobra, and flattening the length to look larger than they really are.
The ability to flatten its body makes hognose snakes an escape hazard. They need to be kept in secure cages.
Hognose snakes need full-spectrum light to stay healthy.
They need 10 hours of artificial light daily in the winter and 12 to 14 hours of full-spectrum artificial light in the summer.
Don’t place their enclosure in actual sunlight. This can cause it to overheat.
Early death in hognose snakes is usually due to failure to regulate temperature. Hognose snakes kept in cool conditions
It’s important to make sure that any hognose snake you buy has already eaten 3 or 4 times on its own.
This way you will know that it will eat the foods you will offer it. Responsible breeders will only sell snakes that they have observed eating.
Hognose snakes can live up to 18 years if they are well cared for.
Ringneck Snakes: 5 to 6 Years
Ringnecks are small, secretive, nocturnal snakes that have the unusual habit of curling up their tails to expose their bright red posteriors when they are threatened, defend themselves.
These docile snakes are venomous, capable of poisoning the worms, lizards, and salamanders they eat but aren’t dangerous to humans.
Around people, ringneck snakes tend to hide.
They can release an unpleasant odor when they are afraid. Many people prefer them to larger snakes because it is possible to maintain them on crickets, worms, and slugs, instead of the mice and bunnies larger snakes prefer to eat.
The challenge for keeping ringneck snakes is making sure you provide a consistent supply of the foods they are used to eating.
Ringneck snakes will die of old age in 5 to 6 years.
Rubber Boas: 15 Years or More
Rubber boas are exceptionally friendly snakes that will stick out their heads to say hello when you approach their enclosure.
They generally enjoy being handled.
Because they are native to the American Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, they do not require the hot, humid conditions many other popular pet snakes need to thrive.
Rubber boas will die of heat exposure when their body temperature exceeds the low 90s Fahrenheit (about 33 degrees Celsius).
Another challenge in keeping rubber boas alive is finding the right food for them.
Although these snakes feed on rodents, commercially raised mice simply may not smell like food to them, and they may starve because they refuse to feed.
There is a record of a rubber boa that was captured as an adult in 1971 that lived until 2006.
This means that it lived to be at least 35 years old. If you are able to provide your rubber boa with a diet it likes, it will probably live to be 15 years old or older.
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