You might have noticed that your snake has not been coming out of its hide for days now. Is it a cause for concern? What about your new snake that just kept hiding away from view, even after feeding? Is there something that you might be doing wrong? You might be surprised by the answer.
It is in the nature of snakes to hide even in captivity. If it suddenly stays in the hide for a long time, it can be stressed, in brumation, suffer from poor handling training, adjusting to a larger enclosure, or simply thermoregulating. When this happens, it is usually not a matter of concern.
It can really be troubling if you have not seen your snake come out of its hide for an extended period of time, but you should not worry as this behavior is natural to them. There are just those instances when external factors affect this behavior, and this is what we are going to discuss.
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Reasons Why Your Snake Is Hiding
It is essential to be familiar with your snake’s usual behavior when finding the reason behind its sudden hiding. Is it a new snake?
Is it an old snake that used to stay outside the hide, and suddenly went into hiding? Did you move the snake to a new enclosure? Have you been handling it often?
These are the questions that can guide you in determining whether this hiding behavior of your snake is still within the normal bounds or if you are already dealing with a problem.
1. Natural Response Of Snake To Hide
In the wild, snakes spend their time either hunting for prey or hiding. They do this to feel safe so that they, too, will not become prey for other bigger animals.
So they use abandoned underground burrows of other animals, rocks, thick grass, etc. to hide themselves.
They usually do this while they are trying to digest their food. At the same time, if they are still full and do not need to feed, they just stay hidden. The same goes when they need to sleep. This applies to nocturnal and diurnal snakes.
In this study, it was found that even ambush predator snakes, like the vipers, will try to find a good hiding spot after ambushing their prey.
We are talking about highly venomous snakes here, so even they have the habit of hiding even if they can aptly defend themselves.
In captivity, snakes use their hides for the same purpose. It is where they feel most secure and undisturbed.
2. Snakes Hide To Thermoregulate
Snakes are cold-blooded. This means that they need to thermoregulate. So they bask under the sun if they need to be warm, and they move to a cooler area to cool off.
This is also the reason why there are warm and cool parts of the enclosure. Most owners place the hide in the cool area, so the snake can still thermoregulate and do not “overcool” themselves as some hides can also be used as humidity boxes.
However, other breeders suggest that it is best to place hides in both cool and warm areas so that your snake can thermoregulate in peace.
If your snake has been hiding in its hide for a long time and has not been coming out to bask under a certain area, it is best to check the temperature of the warm and cool areas.
One area may not be the right temperature so your snake is compensating for it by staying inside its hide.
3. Your Snake Is Going Into Brumation
During fall and winter, snakes become less active as they go into brumation. Brumation is just like hibernation, only this is the term used for cold-blooded animals.
Unlike other animals, they do not stay in slumber. They can still move around and drink water. The only difference is, that they are not as active. They also tend to refuse food at this time.
Do snakes brumate even in captivity? The answer is yes and no.
Captive snakes brumate in captivity when their owners or breeders also simulate what happens naturally in the wild during fall and winter.
What they do is move the snake to a different enclosure and place it in a colder part of the house.
There are also captive snakes that do not brumate. Rather, they just enter a pseudo-brumation state. The reason for this is that since they are in an enclosure with a regularly maintained temperature, they cannot completely sense that it is already fall or winter.
What happens during this time is that they just stay inside their hide, even if the warm area of the enclosure is still at the right temperature. They will stay inside their hide until they feel like fall and winter are probably over.
4. Your Snake Is Stressed Due To Its New Environment
If you just got your snake and moved it into its enclosure, it will surely be stressed. As it is still not familiar with its surroundings, its instinct is to stay in its hide.
The same goes for moving your snake to a new enclosure. You just need to give your snake some time to adjust to its new place.
It does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with the setup of the enclosure, you just have to patiently wait for your snake to find the courage to leave the hide.
You can break the ice and try to coax your snake out of hiding by using food. If it hides again after eating, there is nothing to worry about. Just try again next time to see if your snake is more willing to go outside.
5. Your Snake Suffered From Poor Handling
It is essential for snakes to have handling training so that they grow to be secure snakes. In this way, they will be calm when you open the enclosure and they will not strike you or even bite you when you hold them.
However, there are also cases of poor handling training. This is when we become overeager in handling our snakes that in the process, we stressed our snakes and did not establish a trusting bond with them.
This can happen if you handle your snake after it has fed or while it is still digesting. This is also the case when you do handling training in the morning or afternoon while your snake is nocturnal and should be asleep.
It is also poor handling if you do handling training on a snake before it even got used to its enclosure.
Also, it can stress your snake if you do not move your hands according to their movements. Instead, you try to force your snake to move in another direction.
Poor handling training will establish to your snake that they are not safe with you. Therefore, to compensate for their stress, they try to stay in their hide, which is supposedly out of your reach.
6. The Enclosure Of Your Snake May Be Too Large
Snakes do not feel secure in a space where they feel like they are overexposed. Therefore, if they feel that they are unsafe in such a large area, they will resort to hiding.
This situation is common with snakes that were kept in small tubs that fit their size. When they are moved to a larger enclosure where they can explore, they feel unsafe. So instead of getting used to their place, they just do not leave the hide.
7. Your Snake Is Insecure
It is possible that your snake feels insecure in its enclosure even if it has accepted food. You might not have established a routine for handling training as well as a feeding schedule.
This is mostly the case if you see that your snake will immediately hide after eating and never comes out until the next feeding. It just means that you need to socialize with your snake more and make it feel secure with you and its enclosure.
An insecure snake will more likely hiss at you and strike at you when opening its enclosure. Simply because it feels threatened.
Snakes That Love To Hide
It is now established that it is just in the nature of snakes to hide. However, there are some snakes that tend to love hiding and burrowing more than others.
- Ball Pythons – are nocturnal, so during the daytime, they will just stay in their hides. If they already have an established feeding schedule, they will seldom go out of their hides when they know it is not time to eat.
- Western Hognoses – they love to hide and burrow.
- Bull Snakes – are diurnal so after they are done exploring enrichment objects in the enclosure (if any), they will retreat to their hide.
- Rat Snakes – are most known to just hide if there is no activity in the enclosure.
- Mexican Black King Snakes – they will most likely be out during the day but will stay in the hide at night.
- Corn Snakes – they feel most secure inside the hide and most owners observed that they really do not explore enrichment objects in the enclosure.
Is It Faulty Husbandry If A Snake Is Always Hiding?
It is not faulty husbandry if your snake is always hiding. Rather, it is natural for snakes to hide. If the snake is hiding excessively in captivity and does not even respond well to the offering of food, then your snake is simply stressed with your presence or its enclosure.
How Long Do Snakes Hide For?
If your snake is about to shed, it can hide for one to two weeks until it is time to shed. If you put a humidity box inside the enclosure, they can also hide there before, during, and after the shed.
Depending on the type of snake you have, it can hide for many weeks when it simply wants to hide. Keep in mind the circadian rhythm of your snake also, whether they are nocturnal or diurnal. Most likely, they will be in the hide when it is their time to sleep.
In such a case where your snake is insecure, it can hide for weeks until a secure relationship with the enclosure and the owner is formed. This can be achieved by handling training.
How To Stop Snake From Hiding
There is no way to stop your snake from hiding as this behavior comes naturally to them. However, if you have determined that their hiding behavior is due to stress and insecurity, you can correct this behavior by handling training.
Remember to do handling training when it is the proper time for your snake to be active. Never do handling training when they are supposed to be sleeping.
Further, if your snake feels too overexposed, you can add more hides in the enclosure to make them feel more secure and more likely to come out of hiding. Moreover, always maintain the optimum temperature settings in the enclosure.
Can Snakes Get Stuck In Hides?
Yes, snakes can get stuck in their hides. It usually happens when your snake is eager to go out of a certain hole but it underestimates its size so the whole body cannot get through.
They also tend to get stuck if they try to cram themselves in tight spaces that do not accommodate their size.
Although in this study, it was established that snakes do have an awareness of the limits of their body, there are still cases where they get stuck in hides.
Therefore, it might be more of a problem with the random sizes of the hole of the hide, rather than the snakes themselves.
Snakes hide due to their natural instinct. They do this in the wild as well as in captivity. If you have not seen your snake for weeks or it is apprehensive even when you are offering it food, it can be an insecurity problem.
You can correct this by handling training, adding more hides, and maintaining the proper temperature.