Giving your snake a bath can benefit it in a few ways:
- Helps with shedding its old skin
- Kills mites
- Promote bowel movements
Typically one of the best times to bathe pet snakes is when the animal is at the beginning of the shedding cycle. The belly has turned pinkish and the colors have begun to dull but the eyes have not “greyed” over.
That’s not the only time you can let your snake bathe, but it is a good time to do so. Depending on the species of snake you have and its individual temperament it may or may not appreciate your efforts to give it a bath. Some snakes, such as Anaconda’s will spend a great deal of their time soaking in their cages. As long as you keep their water fresh and clean then giving them a bath in a separate tub that should be fine. Other snakes, such as a Boa Constrictor I own don’t sit around in their water and for those pet snakes a bath is a good idea.
There are a few things you should be careful to avoid when bathing a snake:
- Water temperature overly hot or cold – Snakes are extremely sensitive to temperatures. Make the water temperature between 100 and 108 Fahrenheit
- Chlorinated water – It will irritate a snakes skin which will lead to other problems.
- Leaving the snake unsupervised while it is bathing – In the past I’ve left a snake unsupervised for all of 30 seconds in it’s bath only to find it crawling all over the shower rod. Still don’t know how it got up there but had I been any later it probably would have gotten into a vent.
- Bathing them too often – While giving a snake a bath every now and then is good for them excessive bathing is bad. It can cause scale rot, respiratory infection, and even cause difficulty shedding due to it leeching the natural chemicals out of the snake which help the process.
When you put a snake in a bath you need to make sure of two things:
- Personal safety
Even for the most docile snake a bath can be traumatic. Always use safe handling procedures with all snakes. Particularly large ones. This is to protect yourself and your snake.
- What is available to bathe the snake in
Like anything else you need to have the proper equipment to get the job done. It should be an appropriate size to let the snake move freely, but not so large as to be overwhelming. A wading pool would work for an Anaconda, but would be excessive for a Ball Python.
Once everything is in order put the snake in the bath for 10 to 15 minutes and let it soak and move around. Someone should be watching it the entire time. If it seems especially agitated then take it out, dry it off and return it to its cage. Otherwise just watch to make sure it doesn’t make an escape attempt.
After the snake has been in the water for 10 to 15 minutes dry it off thoroughly and return it to it’s cage or a holding cage. I personally suggest a holding cage because if the snake didn’t go to the bathroom while bathing there is a very good chance it will do so shortly after. Much easier for that to happen in a secondary container than its main living tank.