When my kids brought home a pet snake from school and promptly announced they were going to raise and care for the slithering creature, I was naturally horrified.
I had never been into snake keeping (or any other reptiles for that matter), and I happily thought that a snake must surely have a short lifespan and they must probably be hard to care for.
My hope, at that point, was that the snake would soon be history, but out of curiosity, I Googled to see what the world’s oldest snake’s age was, and I discovered it was a jaw-dropping 37 years!
I began to worry and fret, but I continued reading up and talking to other herpetologists and experts.
I began to warm up to the idea of a cold-blooded pet in the house, and I am thrilled I did. Our beloved bright and friendly corn snake has a life expectancy of 10-15 years.
And believe it or not, I am happy that he will be around for at least a decade or so. But how long do other snakes live?
I decided to find out just how long snakes live based on their species, and since I knew my kids would not want their beloved pet snake to die prematurely, I also decided to investigate how to make a snake live longer. This is what I found.
How Long Do Snakes Live?
As a quick rule, in the snake kingdom, snakes live longer the larger they get. On average, you should expect to care for your pet snake for 15-20 years, meaning that a snake is not a phase you grow out of. It’s a commitment of two decades at least.
Average Snake Ages According to Species
While the oldest snakes are usually quite large, there are some smaller snake breeds that also reach a ripe old age.
I found it quite interesting to note the difference between a snake’s age in captivity versus their age in the wild.
Out in the wilds, snakes don’t live up to the life expectancy as those of their captive-bred counterparts.
When a snake has regular meals and doesn’t run the risk of being decapitated by the garden mower or flattened by a semi on the highway, it can age much better. So our pet snake stood a much better chance of aging to 15 years or more in captivity.
In the wild, our corn snake, who we called Ben, had a chance to reach maybe 6-8 years, but in our home, he could reach double that. Other snakes that live to a ripe age include:
- Boa constrictors at 20-30 years
- Ball pythons at 20-40 years (although this has not been fully proven)
- Burmese pythons at 15-25 years
- Hognose at 10-15 years
- Milk snake at 13-18 years
- Brown snakes at around 7 years
- Kingsnakes up to 30 years
How to Make Your Pet Snake Live Longer
If like me, you want your pet snake to live longer, then you will find great benefit from our care routine for Ben.
Check One: Feed Correctly
For your snake to grow older, they need to eat the right food to get all the nutrients they need. Make sure you’re feeding the right kind of meat to the snake.
Don’t get creative and try to feed your boa a diet of mealworms when they are clearly designed for larger prey animals.
Make sure you only feed your snake if it’s already its next meal schedule. Snakes don’t eat every day.
Annie, the world’s oldest snake, only gets a large rabbit once a week. For her, given her slow metabolism, one meal a week is plenty.
Forcing your snake to eat more will result in digestive problems, and soon, it may be sick.
Remember: Your snake is only as healthy as what they eat, so never feed old or contaminated food to your snake.
Check Two: Increase Their Enclosure Size
A snake grows older depending on its size. Yet, your pet snake will only grow to the size its enclosure allows.
If you are keeping your boa in a small tank, it will not grow to its full potential size, and it will probably die young too.
Make sure your snake has a large enough enclosure or terrarium to let it develop fully, and it will age to its full potential.
Check Three: Meet Your Snake’s Survival Needs
Remember that your snake is a coldblooded creature, and it needs help warming up. If you’re not responsible and neglect providing heated pads or hot rocks for your snake to warm up on, then you can expect their circulation to slow, and hypothermia can set in.
I make sure our corn snake has a nice warm spot in his enclosure where he can curl up in the morning for some heat therapy, and I also keep a careful eye on the temperature in the terrarium where he spends most of his time.
When we have visitors, I also ensure that he’s not picked up too much as this is unnatural for snakes and can stress him out.
Frequently Asked Questions about How Long Snakes Live
How long do most snakes live?
On average, snakes can live from 10-25 years in captivity. This is dependent on breed, size, and health. The bigger your snake is, the older it will get.
What’s the lifespan of a black snake?
A black snake, also known as a rat snake, can live up to the age of 20 years. Again, this depends on the conditions your black snake is kept in, whether they are healthy, or if they are mentally stressed or not.
How do snakes die?
In the wild, snakes are usually killed by a larger predator, or they starve to death. In captivity, snakes easily die of incorrect feeding and from infected wounds. Keeping your snake healthy is how you ensure a long life.
The Final Rest
I accepted the fact that Ben would be with us for many years to come, and while this was not the pet I had hoped for, I have become quite fond of Ben and I am looking forward to the next 12 or more years of having him in our lives.
Whichever breed of snake you keep as a pet, prepare yourself for a long-term commitment as snakes can grow quite old.