While this reptile can earn a bad reputation if it lives in your backyard, snakes remain a popular pets to keep in the home to this day. But how long do snakes live, both in wild and domesticated circumstances, and what is their average life cycle like?
In this article, we will discuss what life is like for many different species of snake, as well as how their species affects their overall lifespan. The snake life cycle will also be discussed here, as it is a fascinating process. Let’s get started!
How Long Do Snakes Live?
Snakes live an average of 2-8 years in the wild, and many live double this amount in captivity. Predation is one of the biggest enemies to a snake’s long and healthy life. This is why captive snakes, like many other animals, live longer than their wild counterparts.
Snakes face many enemies in the wild, such as birds of prey, cats, raccoons, and other carnivorous animals. They also often find themselves in danger if approaching roadways or other populated areas, as humans aren’t very fond of snakes.
Keeping a snake in captivity means that it is more likely to live a long and full life. Many pet snakes live an average of 15 to 30 years depending on their quality of care and the species of snake. This means that adopting a pet snake leads to a longer commitment than you may expect.
No matter the species or the care that a snake receives, most species of snakes are born from a very similar life cycle. However, it is important to note that some species of snakes can give birth to live young rather than laying eggs. For the sake of simplicity, let’s discuss the average life cycle of snakes born out of an egg.
The Average Snake Life Cycle
From growing inside of a soft and leathery egg to eating full-sized prey as an adult, this is what the average snake life cycle is like, from beginning to end.
Most female snakes lay an average of 5 to 20 eggs per breeding season. The breeding season for snakes depends on the weather conditions and species. However, most eggs are laid and then protected by the mother until the snakes are ready to hatch.
Depending on the species of snake, this will determine how long the eggs need before they hatch. The process can take as little as a week, and as long as a couple months. This is a time where many young snakes are consumed by predators, given their inability to protect themselves in their eggs.
A young snake hatches from its egg by wriggling around inside of it. The eggshell is soft so that it can grow with the snake as it incubates. Once it breaks free from the eggshell using its teeth and body, it is ready to move around and live without much assistance.
Juvenile snakes, also known as snakelets, are capable of eating live prey immediately. They feed themselves and shed their skin, molting many times in their use as they grow and change. They are in a juvenile state of life for at least a year, if not closer to 5 years. While they are young, snakes will shed their skin much more than adult snakes will.
Snakes are usually considered adults when they reach sexual maturity, which happens anywhere from 18 months to four years of age. This depends broadly on the species of snake and on the level of care that it is receiving, both in the wild and in captivity.
While many snakes can live to see over a decade of life, this is usually only the case for captive snakes. However, many captive snakes can live a significantly long time. Take this ball python for example, who not only lived to be over the age of 60, but also was able to lay eggs without the assistance of a male!
If you’ve recently adopted a pet snake, there are many things you can do to extend its lifespan. Some of those things include making sure your snake is kept at an adequate temperature, feeding it live prey regularly, and taking the time to not overfeed your snake, depending on the species that it is.
Comparing Lifespans of Different Snake Species
Given how many different species of snakes there are, you may be curious to know how this affects their different life spans. Let’s discuss some of the most common snakes and how long they live now, especially when compared to their wild lifespan versus their captive lifespan.
- Ball Python: The ball python is one of the most popular pet snake species in the world. It is capable of living over 30 years in captivity, if not longer. However, in the wild, their life span is closer to 5 to 10 years.
- Boa Constrictor: Given their large size and lack of natural predators, boa constrictors live a long life in the wild. They can survive to reach at least 20 years of age. Many boa constrictors live over 40 years in captivity.
- Rattlesnake: Not very many rattlesnakes are kept in captivity, though this does increase their overall lifespan. A wild rattlesnake likely lives 5 to 10 years, while a captive one can live closer to 20.
- Garter Snake: Garter snakes are likely the snakes that you see in your backyard. Their small species leads them to have a shorter life. They live an average of two to four years in the wild. But would likely live longer if ever kept in captivity.
- Rat Snake: Another common backyard snake. The rat snake likely lives 10 to 20 years, both in the wild and in captivity.
- Hognose Snake: Known for their trademark pig nose, hognose snakes are another popular breed of pet snake. They can live almost 20 years in captivity, though their wild lifespan is closer to 5 years.
- Corn Snake: A very friendly and popular breed of pet snake. The corn snake lives an average of 12 to 18 years in captivity. It lives closer to 7 years in the wild on average.
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