Whether your snake is new or you’ve had it for a time, your snake may try to escape from their tank on occasion. However, your snake is not just out to go exploring the rest of your house, but may have a very good reason for trying to escape.
Indeed, sometimes their lives may depend on whether they escape from their tank or not!
In this article, we’ll look at six main reasons why your snake is trying to escape and how to make sure that your snake doesn’t escape while also keeping their environment in check so that they’re not harmed or killed by accident.
1. They’re New And Are Still Finding Their Feet (So To Speak)
A new snake may try to escape their tank simply because it is a new, unknown environment. However, your snake may also just be checking out their new forever home, so don’t worry that your new snake only wants to get away from you!
However, make sure from the start that there are no gaps in the tank where your snake can escape from. This includes either weighing down the screen cover of the tank, or clipping the tank and cover together. Keep reading to find out more!
2. The Tank Is Too Hot And/Or Humid For Your Snake
One of the most common reasons why your snake is trying to escape, is that its tank’s temperature and humidity are wrong.
You may also find that your snake tries to escape if you don’t have a temperature gradient in their tank. When there is no temperature gradient in your snake’s tank, they aren’t able to regulate their body temperature and may die because of the heat or cold.
If your snake is moving up the side of the tank, they may be trying to get away from the heat of the substrate if you’ve placed a heat mat underneath the tank.
Again, this can be very dangerous if you don’t keep to strict temperature limits and a strict temperature gradient.
A too high or low humidity can also have dire consequences for your snake as too high humidity may cause respiratory illnesses and may kill your snake. Too little humidity can also cause complications when they need to shed.
To make things easier, we’ve included a table with some of the most popular pet snakes and the temperatures and humidity they should be kept at.
The Temperatures And Humidity Levels Required For Popular Pet Snakes
|Type of Snake||Temperature||Humidity|
|Corn Snake||Ambient: 78-82°F (25-27°C)Basking spot: 90°F (32°C)||65 – 75%|
|Ball Python||Ambient: 80-90°F (27-32°C)Basking spot: 95-104°F (35-40°C)||45 – 75%|
|California Kingsnake||Ambient: 80-84°F (27-29°C)Basking spot: 85-88°F (29-31°C)||35 – 60%|
|Western Hognose Snake||Ambient: 75-85°F (24-29°C)Basking spot: 90-95°F (32-35°C)||30 – 50%|
|Garter Snake||Ambient: 75-85°F (24-29°C)Basking spot: 85-88°F (29-31°C)||35 – 60%|
|Milk Snake||Ambient: 75-85°F (24-29°C)Basking spot: 88-92°F (31-33°C)||40 – 60%|
|Children’s Python||Ambient: 78-85°F (25-29°C)Basking spot: 85-90°F (29-32°C)||50 – 70 %|
3. Your Snake Is Stressed
Apart from your snake’s tank not being at the correct temperature and humidity, other stress can also have an influence on their behavior –including driving them to try and escape from their tank in order to get away from the stressor.
The stressors that has your snake trying to get away can include:
- Other pets – which includes other snakes or reptiles – that are too close for comfort to your snake’s tank.
- Children (and adults) who are too close for comfort to your snake’s tank. Your snake may try to get away from them and may even hurt themselves when they try to get away from other people or pets.
- Noise and lights that they either aren’t used to or won’t get used to, for example loud music or watching the TV loudly can cause your snake a lot of stress. Also – though we probably don’t have to be so obvious – don’t put your snake (or other pet for that matter) right next to a TV or speaker.
Light can especially be a problem if you have them on too late if your snake is nocturnal.
Tip: Don’t throw something like a sheet over the tank to make it darker inside (instead of actually switching off lights) as there is a chance that it could catch fire.
- The tank is too small for your snake. You need to keep your snake in a tank that is appropriate for its size. For example, you can’t keep an adult snake in the same tank that you kept them in as a baby.
Keeping your snake in a tank that is too small will not just be uncomfortable for them (not to mention cruel), but it also causes stunted growth. Your snake may also suffer from other health problems as they won’t be able to get the exercise that they need to be healthy.
You also shouldn’t put too many decorations and hides inside your snake’s tank. Although you do need to add hides, etc. to the tank to mimic your snake’s natural environment, you shouldn’t use so many that it becomes difficult for your snake to move or hunt.
4. Your Snake’s Tank Is Dirty
A dirty tank can also contribute to your snake’s stress and can make them try to escape in order to get to a cleaner part of their environment. This may even go hand-in-hand with the tank being the wrong size.
Daily, Weekly, And Monthly Tasks To Keep Your Snake’s Tank Clean
- Daily – Remove feces, uneaten food, remove any shed skin, and otherwise spot clean the tank. Clean the food and water dish. Give your snake fresh water.
- Weekly – Clean the tank thoroughly, including hides, branches, and any other accessories.
- Monthly – Clean the entire tank, including changing the substrate.
5. Your Snake Is Hungry
Your snake may also try to escape if they’re hungry. You should always make sure that you know what, how much and how often you need to feed your snake. This will depend not only on the age and size of the snake, but also on the type of snake that you have.
If you’re unsure about the feeding habits of your snake, speak to a snake breeder (or consult a trusted site) that deals in the type of snake that you have. Don’t accept that, because one type of snake eats mice, all of them will, for example.
6. It’s Mating Season
The final reason we’re looking at in this article is that snakes may try to escape their tanks during mating season. This can especially happen if you keep a number of the same types of snakes in the same room or area of the house.
If you’re not a breeder, this is the time that you’ll want to watch your snake extra closely to ensure that they don’t escape, only to leave you with handfuls of baby snakes to find forever homes for!
How To Keep Your Snake From Escaping
One of the easiest (and fastest ways to keep your snake from escaping, is to use cover clips to hold the screen cover on the top of the tank secured to the tank itself. These clips can be bought at online retailers at a very reasonable price.
The Exo Terra Terrarium Screen Cover Clip Sets are available in two sizes to ensure a tight fit for your tank’s cover. Or get the whole Exo Terra Tank. We bought and tested it, and it absolutely escape-proof. Read our review here.
The Zilla Heavy Duty Screen Clips are also available in two sizes (small and large) that fit tightly on the screen covers to keep your snake safe inside their tank.
Note! Be careful not to place flammable items on top of the tank in order to keep the screen closed, as the light(s) that you’re using in the tank may heat the metal mesh of the cover and cause a fire.
Keeping your snake safe when you’re cleaning their tank is also important, as you don’t want them to go missing somewhere in the house or sneaking out of an open window to roam in the garden or on the patio.
To make sure that you keep your snake safe you’ll need to put them in another tank (or a plastic tub with air holes) for this short time that closes as securely as their usual tank.
Note! If you use a normal tub and make the air holes yourself, be sure to make the holes from the inside of the tub outwards. This will ensure that there are no sharp edges that your snake can get injured with.
If you use a plastic tub in this case and you’re afraid that they’ll open it, you can put a few heavy books on top of it so that your snake can’t lift the lid.
Tip: Make sure that the door and windows of the room are closed when you take your snake out of their tank – whether for interaction or to clean the tank. This will ensure that, should your snake escape, they at least won’t be able to go too far!
Also, remember that snakes – especially the smaller types or juveniles of larger species – can squeeze through very small slits and gaps in their tank. You will therefore need to use a tank without a panel that slides open.
If you already have such a tank, don’t worry!
You may need to add a lock or locks to the doors of the tank. This will ensure that your snake won’t be able to open the locks. However, if you lock the panels, use trust and tested metal locks.
Don’t settle for using duct tape or bent paper clips as some do – especially not the paper clip as they can do real harm to the body of a snake.
Now that you know what to look out for and how to keep your snake safe and keep them from escaping when you’re not looking, you can be a snake parent with a lot more confidence!