As a reptile enthusiast, I kept my snakes separate for years, assuming that these amazing predators had to be kept apart. It was only when I was concerned about my garter snake, Tammy, getting lonely that I looked into whether snakes can be housed together or not.
Most snake species do not get lonely. They are asocial and only seek out others of their own species when mating. One exception to this is the garter snake. This snake seems to enjoy the company of other snakes, and so it’s quite possible garter snakes suffer from loneliness when alone.
But how can you know if two snakes will peacefully live together? Let’s take a look at what happens when snakes coexist, as well as which snakes make good roommates for each other.
Why Snakes Don’t Get Lonely
Human beings have an inbuilt fear of loneliness. While we might all like our alone time, we still crave social interaction. In fact, research shows that social interaction improves our mental health and physical wellbeing.
Snakes are very different to us.
Of course, any animal that breeds must interact with others of its own species. However, some animals, like snakes and tigers, are so well evolved as predators that they are fearsome opponents even for those of their own kind.
Because most snake species have evolved to survive and thrive on their own, it’s unlikely that they feel lonely most of the time. For humans and other social animals, loneliness is a way to motivate us to be in a group, simply because we have a higher chance of surviving when with others.
Snakes do just fine by themselves.
Do Snakes EVER Want Company?
Of course, snakes must feel an urge to meet and breed, so it’s possible that there is a level of loneliness when a snake is looking for a mate.
More recently, there has been some research to suggest that garter snakes form friendships and alliances when kept together. This is a startling new development in the study of herpetology (reptile research) and might change our views about snakes and how they socialize in the wild.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that garter snakes are more social than we thought. After all, they brumate together during winter.
Despite this development, you should still be extremely wary of housing more than one snake together, as there is always the possibility that one snake will harm or kill the other.
If you are going to keep two or more snakes in the same tank, keep in mind:
- That they should be of a similar size so that no one snake can overcome the others.
- That they are from a docile, non-cannibal breed (more on that in a moment!).
- They should be a mixed pair (male and female). This avoids more aggressive confrontations. Some species such as the corn snake can also share a habitat when two females are present.
Which Snakes Can Be Housed Together?
Here’s a handy table I’ve put together to help you identify which snakes can live together without too many issues. I’ve also included species that are known cannibals and eat snakes, also known as ophiophagy. Snakes that devour others should never be housed together.
Remember: Only put male and female snakes together if you are happy with them breeding! Otherwise you’re going to get the shock of your life.
|Snake Species||Male & Female||Two Males||Two Females||Cannibal|
Considering that there are more than 3,000 snake species on Earth, putting a comprehensive list together is almost impossible.
If you are thinking of housing more than one snake together and you’re unsure of how safe it is to do so, you should contact a vet or snake expert to ensure it’s feasible.
Can You House Different Snake Species Together?
Housing different species of snake together is not a good idea. Reasons for this include:
- Dinner Time: Some snake species have evolved to prey upon others. For example, the Eastern indigo snake eats rattlesnakes.
- Picking on the Small Guy: Different species of snake grow to different sizes. Larger snakes are much more likely to consume smaller ones.
- No Place Like Home: Your tank or cage set up should be specifically designed with one species of snake in mind. If you house two different species, especially if they are from different parts of the world, you will not be able to meet their environmental needs.
- Social Distancing, Please: Snakes that are kept together in the same enclosure are more likely to pass on parasites and diseases. If you keep your pets separate, then its less likely that both your snakes will be wiped out by the same problem.
Keeping Snakes Together and Stress
Because snakes are adverse to company most of the time, it can be incredibly stressful to put them into an unnatural situation.
Imagine sharing a tank with someone you dislike intensely. Now imagine you dislike everyone intensely. That’s most probably how a snake feels about other snakes. Either that or as a tasty snack!
Being so close to another solitary animal, your snake is likely to start to exhibit escape behavior. This is especially true if one snake is significantly dominant over the other (stealing its food, chasing it from hides etc.).
Escape behavior involves searching for a way out of the tank. You’ll see your snake rubbing its head against the inside of the enclosure, often the front where the outside world is visible.
A stressed snake will do this repeatedly until its scales actually wear down and a wound forms. This wound can become infected, even proving life-threatening.
There are so many problems that can happen that you’re best either keeping only one snake or having two separate enclosures.
The one caveat to this is that garter snakes might have naturally evolved a quirk where they like to be around each other. Caution is still advised, though!
I hope this article was helpful in answering your questions about loneliness in snakes and keeping them together. If not, please do contact us or leave a comment below.