Snake Lifespan: How Long Do Snakes Live?

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If this reptile lived in your backyard, it might gain notoriety, but snakes are still a popular pet to this day. But how long do snakes live in the wild and in captivity, and what is their average lifespan?

In this article, we discuss the lives of the many different species of snakes and how their species affects their overall lifespan. The snake life cycle will also be discussed here, as it is a fascinating process. let's start!

how long do snakes live
If this reptile lived in your backyard, it might gain notoriety, but snakes are still a popular pet to this day.

©Jason Mintzer/Shutterstock.com

How long can a snake live?

Snakes live an average of 2-8 years in the wild, with many living twice that in captivity. Predation is one of the biggest enemies of a snake's health and longevity. This is why captive snakes, like many other animals, live longer than wild snakes.

Snakes face many enemies in the wild such as birds of prey, cats, raccoons and other predators. They also often find themselves in danger if approaching roads or other populated areas, as humans are not very fond of snakes.

Captive snake means it is more likely to live a long and fulfilling life. Many pet snakes have an average lifespan of 15 to 30 years, depending on the quality of their care and the species of snake. This means that adopting a pet snake can lead to a longer commitment than you might expect.

Regardless of the species of snake or the care it receives, the life cycle of most snakes is very similar. However, it is important to note that certain species of snakes can give birth to live young rather than lay eggs. For simplicity, let's discuss the average life cycle of a snake born from an egg.

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How long do snakes live?
Snakes live an average of 2-8 years in the wild, with many living twice that in captivity.

©iStock.com/RobinOlimb

Average life cycle of a snake

From growing inside soft, tough eggs to adulthood eating full-sized prey, here's what the average snake's life cycle looks like from start to finish.

Egg

Most female snakes lay an average of 5 to 20 eggs per breeding season. Snake breeding season depends on weather conditions and species. However, most eggs are laid and the mother guards them until the snake is ready to hatch.

Depending on the species of snake, this will determine how long the eggs will take before hatching. This process can be as short as a week or as long as several months. This is the period when many young snakes are eaten by predators because they cannot defend themselves in their eggs.

juvenile snake

How long do snakes live?
Snakes are completely dependent on external heat or light sources.

© iStock.com/Vagengeym_Elena

A baby snake hatches from the egg by writhing inside it. The eggshell is soft so it can grow with the snake when it hatches. Once it breaks free of the eggshell with its teeth and body, it can move around and live without much assistance.

Young snakes, also known as baby snakes, are able to eat live prey immediately. They feed and molt themselves, and they molt multiple times during use as they grow and change. They have been in juvenile status for at least a year, if not closer to 5 years. When they are young, snakes shed more skin than adults.

adult snake

Snakes are usually considered adults when they reach sexual maturity, which occurs anywhere between 18 months and 4 years of age. Much depends on the species of snake and the level of care it receives in the wild and in captivity.

While many snakes can live beyond ten years, this is usually only the case for captive snakes. However, many captive snakes can live a long time. Take this ball python, for example. Not only does it live to be over sixty years old, but it can also lay eggs without the assistance of a male!

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If you recently adopted a pet snake, there are many things you can do to extend its life. Some of these things include making sure your snake is kept at the proper temperature, feeding live prey regularly, and taking the time not to overfeed your snake, depending on the species of snake.

How long do snakes live?
Captive snake means it is more likely to live a long and fulfilling life.

©K Quinn Ferris/Shutterstock.com

Comparing the lifespan of different snake species

Considering how many different species of snakes there are, you might wonder how this affects their different lifespans. Let's discuss some of the most common snakes and how long they live now, especially when comparing their lifespan in the wild to captivity.

  • Ball pythons : Ball pythons are one of the most popular pet snakes in the world. It is capable of living in captivity for over 30 years, if not longer. However, in the wild, their lifespan is closer to 5 to 10 years.
  • Pythons : Due to their large size and lack of natural predators, pythons live a long life in the wild. They can live to at least 20 years old. Many pythons have lived in captivity for more than 40 years.
  • Rattlesnakes : Not many rattlesnakes are kept in captivity, although this does increase their overall lifespan. A wild rattlesnake may live 5 to 10 years, while a captive rattler can live closer to 20 years.
  • Garter Snake : The garter snake is most likely the snake you see in your backyard. Their small species results in their shorter lifespan. Their average lifespan in the wild is two to four years. But if kept in captivity, it may live longer.
  • Rat Snake : Another common backyard snake. Rat snakes can live 10 to 20 years in the wild and in captivity.
  • Hognose Snake : Known for its signature pig nose, the hognose snake is another popular pet snake. They can live nearly 20 years in captivity, but nearly 5 years in the wild.
  • Corn Snake : A very friendly and popular pet snake. The average lifespan of a corn snake in captivity is 12 to 18 years. Its average lifespan in the wild is nearly 7 years.

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about the author

august croft


I am a non-binary freelance writer working full time in Oregon. A graduate of Southern Oregon University with a BA in Theater and a major in Creative Writing, I have an interest in a variety of topics, especially the history of the Pacific Northwest. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping on the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my family's kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast-iron skillet.

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