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Do Snakes Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

June 30, 2021
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snake sleeping

If you have a pet snake, you'll want to be sure that it is getting everything it needs, including enough sleep.

But if you aren't seeing your snake close its eyes then you may become concerned that it isn't catching as many ZZZ's as it should.

But then, this raises the questions do snakes sleep with their eyes open?

Snakes do not have eyelids and so when they sleep, they do so with their eyes open. But going even further, the lack of eyelids means that a snake cannot blink either.

This can be frustrating for owners, but there are many ways that you can tell whether you snake is awake or in the land of nod.

Once you familiarise yourself with these, you'll soon feel confident in knowing what your snake is up to. Moreover, many owners worry about being able to tell the difference between a brumating snake and one that has died.

How Do I Know If My Snake Is Sleeping?

Snakes are unique creatures and the way they behave may seem alien to a human.

But if you take on a pet snake, it is important to get to know the animal so that you can care for it properly.

Knowing when your snake is sleeping will allow you to monitor the amount of rest it is getting and will prevent you from disturbing it while it is getting some shut-eye!

Consider The Breed Of The Snake

According to the National Geographic, there are more than 3000 species of snake, so it will come as no surprise to you that not all of them behave in the same way.

So, one of the first things you will need to do is familiarise yourself with how and when your snake naturally sleeps. This will give you the best clue to what it is doing.

Now, while we don't have the freedom to discuss each of the 3000 species individually, we can give you an overview of the different types of snakes and their sleeping patterns.

For example, there are diurnal snakes that sleep during the night and these are usually species such as hog-nosed snakes, racers, and sipos.

Conversely, there are many snake species that are nocturnal and are more active in the night while spending much of their time sleeping during the day.

Snakes such as the ringneck, night snake and broadheaded snakes all sleep during the day.

With all of that in mind, there are also a lot of snakes whose sleeping habits will alter depending on the season which can make it a little more tricky to work out when they are sleeping.

So, you shouldn't rely on considering the breed to tell if the snake is sleeping but you can use it as a way of looking at when they are likely to sleep.

Has The Snake Recently Eaten?

Since snakes sleep with their eyes open, telling whether they are awake or dozing is a nightmare, especially since many species will sit motionlessly even when they are awake.

But one thing that a lot of snakes have in common is that they will often take a nap after they have had a meal.

Snakes don't usually eat every day so if you have just given your pet a large meal, there is a likely chance that he could sleep up to 20 hours as he digests his food.

Time Of Year

Snakes will normally sleep for quite a long time each day, with 16 hours being completely normal.

However, when the seasons change, so do the snake's sleeping habits.

Consider the time of year if your snake seems to be sleeping a lot because the number of hours he spends catching some ZZZ's could raise up to 20!

How Is The Snake Positioned?

When we sleep, each of us has a preference for the position we lie in. But generally speaking, there are only so many ways that you can sleep.

The same can be said for a snake and when he is sleeping, he will remain in the same position for many hours.

Snakes will also stay very still when they are hunting but if there is nothing in the enclosure to hunt then it's more likely that your pet is asleep.

SNAKE SLEEPING

What's more, when a snake is asleep, its tongue won't be doing the normal flicking motion and this is a big clue. If you stand at the enclosure and attempt to interact with your snake and he doesn't respond, you can be sure that he is dozing.

Do Snakes Hibernate?

In the wild, snakes go into a hibernation period known as brumation. However, owing to the consistent conditions in a captive enclosure, it is rare that a pet snake would brumate.

That said, it isn't impossible and many owners report their snake going into brumation unexpectedly.

This can be concerning and a lot of people instantly assume that the snake has died. But there are a few things you can look for to tell why your snake is behaving the way he is.

Is My Snake Brumating or Dead?

One of the key signs that a snake is in brumation is that he will be active, even if it is drastically less than normal.

If you attempt to pick up your snake and it reacts to this, then you can feel confident that he is in brumation. If the snake has died, he will be limp in your hands and will not respond to any stimulus.

Moreover, when snakes brumate, they will go to a hideout somewhere in the enclosure and won't just brumate where they land.

If your snake dies unexpectedly then he will likely fall where he lands and this may be in an obscure location. However, if you do suspect that your snake has passed away, it is worth having it seen by a vet to confirm this.

You may wish to assess the tank conditions since snakes will typically brumate when the temperature drops. Try raising the temperature again and see if this causes him to stir.

Conclusion

Snakes do not have eyelids and this means that they cannot close their eyes, even when they are sleeping. If you notice that your snake is very still for a long period of time, it could be that he is simply taking a nap.

There are signs to look out for depending on the species but it is also worth checking if your snake has gone into brumation, or sadly died.

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