Water is an essential building block to all life on earth, including your friendly pet snake. In the wild, snakes will drink from creeks, ponds, and fresh rain puddles. Likewise in captivity, it’s important that your snake has access to a reliable source of fresh, clean water.
Choosing the right type of bowl
Water should be available in your snake’s enclosure 24 hours a day. When searching for a water bowl for your snake, you’ll want to find nonporous material that’s easy to clean such as ceramic or a sturdy plastic that’s been treated with Microban. Also look for a bowl that won’t tip over easily. Shallow bowls with rubber rims for cats and dogs also work well for snakes.
A good rule of thumb is to provide a bowl that’s only big enough for your snake to fit in. That’s because some snakes species, like corn snakes, prefer to soak in their water to help loosen their skin before shedding.
Where to place the water
Keep the water bowl on the cooler side of your snake’s habitat. Placing the water dish too close the the heating elements can cause water to evaporate too quickly, and it can also interfere with the level of humidity. If you notice that your snake has been soaking even when it isn’t time to shed its skin, it’s a good indication that the humidity in the enclosure needs to be adjusted.
How often to change the water
Aim to change the water at least once a week, taking care to wash the bowl before refilling it. If you notice that your snake has been taking a bath lately a lot lately, you should change the water more often — about two or three times a week. Most snakes will leave the area where they defecate, but this isn’t always an option in a cage. Therefore, if you notice that your snake has made a mess near the water dish, you should change it immediately to avoid forcing your snake to drink soiled water.
Filtered or bottled water is best, as municipal water facilities sometimes add chemicals that are detrimental for snakes. Don’t use distilled water, though, because it lacks the minerals that your snake needs to thrive.
Do you have a particularly messy snake at home who needs the water changed often? Be sure to book a pet sitter to come check on your snake regularly while you’re out of town.
Candace Elise Hoes is a blogger at Kim’s Urban Hounds. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.