What Snakes Do at Night? (Revealed)

Snakes have fascinating habits, contrary to other reptiles. Some are active during the day, while others come out at night, depending on the species in question. You may wonder what your pet snake is up to while you are asleep.

So, what do snakes do at night? Nocturnal snakes do most of their activities at night. It is the best time for them to hunt, mate and crawl around. However, diurnal snakes prefer to hunker down at this time and remain active during the day. Therefore, the snake species will determine its conduct during the night. However, when it is sweltering hot, the snakes prefer to do their activities at night when the temperatures have cooled down.

Your reptile knows what to do and when to do it, whether it is night or day. To help you understand more about your snake, we look at various species’ norms, especially when night falls. The coming sections will expound more about these habits.

Where Do Snakes Sleep at Night?

Regardless of their habitat, snakes will be cautious about where to sleep, just like you. You would consider warmth, comfort, and safety; what about the snake?

If the ground is soft, snakes can burrow to create a hole to sleep at night. Similarly, they sleep in abandoned holes or evacuate prey and take their homes. They also prefer sleeping in tree trunk caves or a pile of leaves and twigs. They can even sleep under rocks, provided there is warmth.

On the other hand, they will look for hidden places to keep safe from attacks when in the wild. A snake’s sleeping place will rely on its current conditions, but the bottom line is, it has to be safe and warm. They will always use their instincts to guide them, whether in the wild or in captivity.

Before deciding on the ideal place to sleep, they will ensure that it is safe. Since predators take advantage of inactive reptiles, snakes need to be cautious to avoid attacks. Their top choice is sleeping in holes. Given that the snakes don’t have limbs to help them dig, they rely on those built by other animals.

They occupy abandoned spots or evict the current occupants. If there is a rodent in a hole, the snake will attack and kill it, then take its place. In contrast, if the ground is soft, they can burrow their hole and sleep.

Hollow spots in tree trunks are also hot for the snakes. Similarly, they can snuggle under leaves and twigs. If the forest is rocky, they may find a great spot under a warm rock. However, the snake’s sleeping place depends on the snake’s habitat. They will sleep in the sites mentioned above if they are in the wild.

While in captivity, it would be best to create a cozy sleeping and hiding place. You can do this by placing a hiding structure in their enclosure, such as cardboard boxes, artificial caves, or rock replicas. Doing this will give them a convenient place to snuggle in when they feel threatened or need to sleep.

How Much Do Snakes Sleep?

Like all animals, snakes need adequate sleep. They must rest as they gather the strength to go about their usual activities. Let’s look at the snake’s sleeping patterns.

Generally, snakes sleep for about 16 hours a day. However, this time frame varies depending on their species, feeding habits, and the season. Different species have different sleep duration. Secondly, snakes sleep longer during the winter than other seasons; they can sleep for up to 20 hours. Lastly, a snake will sleep longer if it has just had a heavy meal.

It may be difficult to tell whether a snake is sleeping or not; they sleep and need it at least once a day. Unlike you, they don’t close their eyes when sleeping; instead, they keep their eyes open. They do not have eyelids, but a transparent layer called the ocular scale. Based on research, snakes can sleep for approximately 16 hours a day, depending on the season, their species, and feeding habits.

They will sleep for longer periods during winter compared to other seasons. Since they are ectothermic creatures, their metabolism will reduce during extreme temperatures. You will also notice that they sleep longer when they have just eaten. Most importantly, the sleep duration will depend on the snake’s species. Some will go 16 hours or more, while some need fewer hours.

Do Snakes Crawl Around at Night?

There are many snake species in the animal world, each with its sleeping habits. You may wonder what snakes generally do at night.

Some snakes are nocturnal reptiles; hence, you may find them crawling around at night. They use this time to hunt down prey or crawl around in their enclosures. However, other snakes are diurnal, meaning they prefer to rest during the night while remaining active during the day. Depending on a snake’s species, some will crawl around at night, while others will sleep all night and wake up in the morning.

Different species behave differently at night. Nocturnal snakes hunt prey such as rodents and other small reptiles that come out at that time. If it is scalding during the day, like during summer, it is common to find snakes hunting at night because the temperatures will have dropped.

Snakes prefer spring or fall seasons, when the temperatures are moderate, not scorching yet not freezing. They are also quite particular about the nature of the sky. If it is a cloudy night, the air will be warmer.

Being cold-blooded, their temperature levels and metabolism vary according to the environment. During icy conditions, the snake is weak and unable to hunt as usual. In contrast, when the day’s temperatures are scorching, the snake has to wait out the heat and only emerge at night to hunt. It is one reason why most nocturnal snakes dwell in areas experiencing tropical climates.

Rat snakes, for instance, tend to be active from dusk to nighttime, especially during summer. They hunt down unsuspecting prey taking advantage of their weakness in the darkness. Other snakes that love it when it gets dark are the Northern Copperheads and the Black Kings, who spend most of the night foraging away until late.

Note that if you find your snake is sleeping or come across one while in the wild, it is best not to disrupt them. They may mistake you for a predator and attack.

How Do Snakes Stay Warm at Night?

Reptiles like snakes also need to keep warm. This warmth aids in the performance of biological processes like digestion. They utilize the sun as a primary heat source during the day, but they have to find other viable alternatives when it comes to the night.

They take cover under rocks and huddle up with other snakes during the night to stay warm. Since the stones have previously been heated up by the sun, they remain warm during the early hours of the night. Snakes maximize on this heat before it gets cold again.

On the other hand, if they live in a group, you may find snakes cuddling together to achieve the warmth they need. When it gets freezing, they are likely to lower their metabolism rate to reserve their energy. This principle is the same one they use before they undergo hibernation or brumation.

Warm rocks are the best places to hide at night. The only disadvantage is that the same way the stones absorb heat is the same way they lose it. Therefore, snakes have to utilize as much heat as possible before looking for other alternatives, such as holes in tree trunks. Like you, they also know that hurdling keeps them warm.

Rattlesnakes are one species that tend to cuddle with other snakes for extra heat. This group doesn’t have to be of the same species. You may find copperheads, rat snakes, and rattlesnakes intertwined in one hurdle.

Heat is paramount for the snake as it gives their bodies the energy to hunt and perform other biological processes such as digestion, respiration, and excretion. Therefore, whether it is night or day, they will need some warmth.

As a pet owner, it is vital to provide a heat source for their enclosure. There are many alternatives from pet stores, such as heat lamps and pads. With a heated spot in their pen, they can have a warm place to go when it gets too cold and a cool place when it gets too hot.


Different snakes have different routines during the night, and with more than 3000 species globally, it may not be easy to generalize their nighttime habits. However, we can group the snakes as nocturnal or diurnal. The nocturnal snakes do most of their activities at night and stay inactive during the significant part of the day.

Thus, you will find them crawling around at night as they look for food. However, diurnal snakes will rest at night and go about their activities during the day. Notably, all snakes need to keep warm. They will sleep in caves to stay safe and for protection against chilly conditions.

Once they are comfortable, they can sleep for up to 16 hours. Hopefully, you now know how to take care of your pet during the night. It would be helpful to provide a warm place for them to hide and sleep.

Bal Kang

Bal Kang is an owner of several pets including reptiles, cats and dogs. An avid writer, who loves to share her insights into caring for pets.

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