Pet snakes must be kept warm especially when the heat goes out! When the heat goes out and the temperatures drop it can have deadly consequences. Especially during the cold of winter. While we hope to never have to face a situation like this it is important to be prepared for it. The better prepared you are the better chance your snakes have of surviving.
That is the dilemma snakes face because they can’t regulate their temperature in the same manner as birds and mammals do. They have to constantly seek out locations that are the right temperature because their temperatures are dictated by the surrounding area. This is why we using under the tank heaters, and heat lamps in our snake tanks. We give them (or at least try to) the required tools to regulate their own temperatures in their own natural way. So if those tools suddenly become useless the snake is unable to do what it needs to do which can compromise its safety.
- Chemical heat packs
- You can pick up chemical hand warmers at almost any sporting goods store, especially in the winter. These work by rubbing or shaking the plastic pouches which causes a chemical reaction and they heat up. These usually get well over 120 degrees and last anywhere from 3 to 12 hours. If you were to place one of these directly against a snake’s skin it would burn them badly if not kill it. A good way to use these heat packs is to wrap each one in a seperate piece of foil, raise your enclosure high enough to allow the wrapped heat pact to be duct taped to the bottom of the tank without touching. You never want to put them directly in the tank where there is a chance that the snake could potentially end up lying on one of them.
- Hot water
- Get a couple of gallon jugs, warm up some water and then dump it in the jug. Then put the jug in the snakes tanks and the snake can get as close as it wants for heat. Because water loses heat very rapidly to the air via a process called convection this isn’t a long term solution. In fact you’ll need to change it out every 10 to 15 minutes if not more because of how quickly the heat is lost.
- Body heat
- Finally you can use your own body heat to keep a snake warm. If you’ve ever been out in the woods camping under the stars (no tents, no trailers) one thing you should always do when you wake up is carefully figure out if any critters have crawled into bed with you. I’ve woken up with a few lizards and harmless snakes in the past. I’ve heard stories of people waking up with Rattlers, but never witnessed it myself. Either way a snake will gladly accept your body heat if that’s what is available.
I don’t recommend sleeping with your snake because of the potential to roll over and squash it, but there’s nothing wrong with letting it find a nice comfy spot against your skin while you’re sitting and relaxing. In my experience they like the pubic area and arm pits. So for the sake of the snake please practice personal cleanliness.
By no means is this an exhaustive list of ways to keep a snake warm should the need arise. There are plenty more, such as using the car heater (be careful of the humidity falling to low), but those three should give you an idea of different things you can try.
- Move its tank out of any drafty areas
- Don’t put the tank directly against any walls or the ground due to heat loss via conduction
- Wrap the tank in blankets and/or towels to give it insulation. This will help prevent the loss of heat
- Minimize access times to it so you don’t keep letting the warmer air in the tank out.
- If you live in an area with regular power issues consider buy an small generator for the sole purpose keeping your snakes warm
I hope there is never a need for any of this, but should something happen it is important to be able to care for the snakes as well as you can.