There is one essential secret for finding a lost snake.
Start in one corner of a room and look everywhere—and we do mean everywhere—until you know the room is clear.
Then move on to the next place where your lost snake could be hiding.
Snakes are some of nature’s most skilled escape artists. But if you can think like a snake, you can track down and recover your snake when it escapes from its enclosure.
In this article, we will give you some tips and some useful methods for finding a lost snake.
Listen to Your Dogs and Cats
Dogs and cats have several advantages over humans in finding lost snakes. They have a much more sensitive sense of smell than we do.
They can sniff out your lost snake without having to search systematically for it. Dogs and cats also hear pitches that humans cannot.
Your dog will howl and your cat will probably flee to the highest, safest perch available even before you know your snake has escaped.
Let your other pets be part of your early warning system for those (we hope) rare occasions that your snake gets out.
Just be sure to lock up your dogs and cats safely out of the way once they have alerted you to the fact that your snake is missing.
You don’t want your dog, cat, or snake to get into a physical confrontation, and your snake will be even more sure to hide if it senses that your dog and cat are nearby.
Don’t try to use pets to track each other down.
It’s enough to pay attention to what they are trying to tell you.
Start Your Search Around Your Snake’s Enclosure
If you notice your snake is missing soon after it escapes, chances are that it will not go very far.
Snakes do not like to spend time out in the open. Their instincts are to hide for hunting or to hide for protection.
Usually, your snake will be in the same room as its enclosure, in the nearest hiding place it can find.
Keep in mind that snakes can squeeze themselves into very small hiding places.
That means it isn’t enough to look under the couch. You will need to pick up. turn over, and inspect every cushion.
If a cushion has even a tiny hole in it or has been left even slightly unzipped, you will need to check inside.
If your couch folds out into a sleeper bed, you will need to open it to see if your snake is on the mattress. Or under the mattress. Or beside the mattress.
Snakes have been known to curl up inside chairs. They may slither their way into open desk drawers, dresser drawers, or cabinets.
They slide past open duct work and curl up in heating and AC vents.
They curl up in waste paper baskets and in pet beds. And they love crawl spaces.
If your snake’s usual home is adjacent to your laundry room or your garage, finding it may be a time-consuming challenge.
Snakes have been found in washing machines and dryers, and in clothes baskets.
They have been found in shoe boxes, clothes hampers, potato bins, and trash compactors. (Don’t operate your trash compactor until you are sure it does not contain your snake.)
They crawl under the hood and in wheel wells of cars parked in garages. They coil up in toolboxes, pet carriers, and inside lawnmowers.
I once found my pet snake coiled up inside my three-year-old’s ride-on toy car.
Secure Each Room You Search Before You Move On to the Next
You will need to check every crevice, nook, and cranny in the room where you keep your snake before you move on to the next room to look some more.
Then you will need to be equally thorough and systematic in the next room, and the next.
But once you have completely searched the room where you usually keep your pet snake, lock it down so it does not crawl back in while you are searching elsewhere.
You don’t want your pet snake sneaking back into the area you have already searched!
Keep in mind that snakes don’t like to travel very far. When you complete your search for one room, you are more likely to find your snake in an adjacent room than in a room at the other end of your house.
The longer it is missing, the farther it will go, but snakes will usually stop at the first suitable hiding place they find.
Don’t Make a Lot of Noise While You Are Searching for Your Snake
There is an important rule for searching for snakes that will make the whole process easier:
Be as quiet as your snake while you are searching for it.
Loud conversations, screams of exasperation, and any kind of excited conversation make hunting for your pet snake harder.
If you make a lot of noise, your snake will find a quieter place to hide. Any kind of loud noise will make your snake hunker down in place.
Turn Up the AC or Turn Down the Heat
Lowering the temperature of your home helps you find your snake faster.
Although snakes don’t lose their body heat immediately, they are cold-blooded animals, and they are less active as the temperature goes down.
You don’t want your snake to get so cold that it suffers hypothermia.
What you want to do is to make the air temperature for your snake uncomfortable—about 60° F or 15° C is cool enough—to cause your snake to look for a warmer place to hide.
Entice your snake to come out by putting out an electric blanket in a corner of the room, placed so you can easily scoop up your snake inside it.
Or put out hot water bottles for your snake to curl around in the middle of the floor, away from any other hiding places.
The idea is to draw your snake out in a search for heat.
Be sure that you have a heat source ready for your snake as long as you are keeping the temperature of your home low.
You don’t want your snake to catch a cold or to develop a digestive problem because it spent too long in low temperatures.
After You Have Searched Carefully, Give Your Snake Some Time to Come Out of Hiding
If you have carefully searched every room where your snake could be hiding, and you have lowered the temperature of your home so it will seek out a heat source, it is usually a good idea just to sit quietly for a few hours.
This means that you have your children play elsewhere and you keep your cats and dogs in their kennels, away from where you think your snake may be.
Don’t walk around looking for your snake. It can feel your vibrations through the floor. Give your snake a quiet, secure environment to come out and warm up.
Search at Night, Too
If after all these steps you don’t have your pet snake back in its enclosure safe and sound, you may need to search at night, too.
Even if you have a diurnal (day-active) snake, like a garter snake or a Western hognose snake, chances are that it will be more active around and just after sundown, as long as you keep the lights dim.
Turning on all the overhead lights keeps your pet snake from feeling secure enough to come out.
Find a comfortable place to sit and wait for your snake to come out. Have a flashlight with you.
Then wait until you hear your snake crawling around in the dark so you can catch it and put it back in its usual home.
What can you do to be able to hear your snake moving in the dark?
- Tape some plastic grocery bags to the floor. They will make a crinkly sound when your snake moves over them. If you do not tape the grocery bags to the floor, your snake may go under them instead.
- Crinkle up some aluminum foil. Set the crumpled balls of foil out around furniture, around duct vents, and at the edges of the room. If you don’t crinkle the aluminum foil before you put it out, the snake may crawl under it.
- Set out some two-sided clear tape (not duct tape). Use a cheaper, generic brand that doesn’t stick very well, so it will be easier to remove from your snake without harming it. Set the tape out in two- to three-foot (up about 90 cm) stretches with some coins on either end. When your snake passes over the tape, the coins will ratlle to alert you of its presence.
Tracking Hard-to-Find Snakes
Sometimes snakes will evade all of these methods of finding them.
You may need to put some additional effort into tracking their movements so you can eventually trap and recover them.
One tried and true method of tracking the movement of snakes is putting flour on the floor.
The snake moves through the flour, and you learn where it is coming from and where it is going.
To avoid having to clean up a huge mess, put down paper towels on the floor and then dust them with flour.
Or put out squares of toilet paper arranged in neat little rows.
If your snake passes through them, you will be able to see where.
This method only works when you can keep a room free of people and pets, but that is a room your snake would prefer for hiding, anyway.
You will also need to turn off ceiling fans and direct duct vents away from the toilet paper.
When All Else Fails, Check the Floor Vents
Heating and air conditioning vents are potential hiding places for snakes.
If you turn down the temperature as suggested earlier, your pet snake won’t want to stay in them.
But if you can’t do that, it’s worth checking your HVAC system if all other measures fail.
Checking heating and air conditioning vents is only necessary if you have floor vents. Snakes can’t climb straight up the wall into a ceiling event.
Snakes can also hide in dryer connections and at the wall in a duct for electric or cable connections.
Most of this kind of ductwork is flexible, so you could feel the snake inside. You might have to disconnect the duct to check for a smaller snake.
Additional Tips for Finding Escaped Snakes
Here are some other methods that may help you find an escaped snake.
Security cameras are pricey, but they may help you track a snake coming and going.
You will need a camera that runs continuously rather than a PRP or motion-activated security camera.
Motion-activated cameras are triggered when they sense infrared radiation from a heat source. Snakes are cold-blooded. so they don’t generate a lot of heat.
Their motion isn’t detected.
You can explore hard-to-reach areas with a selfie stick and your cell phone camera.
Move Your Snake’s Enclosure to a Different Room
Move your snake’s enclosure to a different room. Keep the lid open, but place warm food inside (like a defrosted pinky mouse).
When your snake gets hungry, even if it is a week or two later, it will return to its enclosure to feed.
It will probably stay in its enclosure to digest its meal. You can trap your snake inside its usual home then.\
Snakes were born to hide, and they hide very well. If you use all of these methods, you will nearly always be able to retrieve your snake.
If you can’t, remember this: Your snake will shed at some point. It will be much easier to locate while it is shedding or immediately afterward.
Even while your snake is hiding, give it the options it needs for survival. Give it a place to come out and warm up.
Give it food in its usual enclosure. (Or, if you usually feed your snake in a second enclosure, leave its food there.)
Be patient, because your snake needs you and will come back to you.
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