Can I Keep Multiple Snakes in One Enclosure?

Question: Can I keep more than one snake in a tank?

Answer: Here at Squamish Serpents, we believe that keeping multiple snakes in one enclosure (co-habbing) is very risky to the lives of your snakes.

Reasons co-habbing is not a good idea:

1) Snakes have been known to cannibalize each other. Size doesn’t seem to be a trigger for it, either. When a snake eats another snake, usually both of them die. I’m not actually aware if any cannibal snakes have lived. Here I have provided photographic evidence of cannibalism. Click on the images to view a description.

2) Snakes are solitary animals.* They don’t live, eat, sleep, or hunt in groups. When you see two snakes curled up in the same hide, they are not “cuddling because they like each other,” they are actually competing for the best spot in the enclosure. This constant state of competition causes a great deal of stress in your snake.

*Please note, this is not entirely true for ALL species of snakes. There are some snakes that do some things communally, but in this article I am referring to corn snakes, rat snakes, king snakes, milk snakes, ball pythons, boas, hognose, and other species commonly kept as pets.

3) Co-habbing is very stressful, and when a snake is stressed it may stop eating. It can also cause them to start regurgitating their food, which can be fatal. Which brings me to my next point:

4) When you have more than one snake in an enclosure, if one of them has an odd poo, or regurgitates a meal, you won’t know which one is sick. Also, if you have one sick snake and there are others in the enclosure, they are certain to become sick too. Which will cost either the lives of your snakes, or will cost you a large amount of money at an exotics Veterinarian.

6) Snakes from pet stores are often not sexed properly. If you put a male and a female in the same cage (knowingly, or unknowingly) and the male mates with the female, very big problems can arise if she is too young. It is recommended for a female corn snake to be at least 3 feet long, 300grams in weight, and 3 years old in order to breed successfully. Ball Pythons and other types of snakes have different size/weight requirements. (Please research BEFORE deciding to embark in a breeding project!) When a female snake is bred, her body goes through many changes. She will gain a lot of extra weight. After laying, snakes often lose a large portion of their body mass. If your snake is too small to breed, this can be extremely dangerous.

Another issue with a female being bred too young is egg-binding. An egg-bound snake is unable to lay her eggs. Sometimes veterinarian intervention is needed. This may mean surgery, aspiration (emptying the contents of the egg with a needle and syringe), or any other method the Vet sees fit. And there are no guarantees that the snake will live.

You may have seen people keep snakes in the same enclosure, however research will reveal that it is a terrible idea. There is never a problem with co-habbing, until there is a problem.

Pet stores may tell you they can be kept in the same enclosure. They may also tell you that heat lamps are the best heat source for corn snakes. They may tell you that the Under Tank Heaters (UTH) they sell do not require a thermostat, and they may even tell you that corn snakes need a UV light. All of these things are simply NOT true. Unfortunately, pet stores are not experts in all of the species of animals they sell. It is unreasonable to expect every staff member in ever pet store to have the appropriate amount of experience with each species. If you have any questions, your best bet to obtain information on the species you’re interested in is to ask a reputable breeder, or join a forum and ask questions. While pet stores mean well, there is a VAST amount of misinformation, or just downright wrong/dangerous information out there.

All this said, It is the buyer’s choice on weather or not they want to cohab their snakes, but I am 100% against it, and will not condone it. It is a completely unnecessary risk to take, at the expense of your snakes’ lives. Snakes are amazing creatures that I am truly passionate about, and I believe they deserve to be treated properly.

It would be a great idea to join a forum like the BCRC (BC Reptile Club). This is a collection of reptile lovers in British Columbia, and we often have Expos where all of the breeders come together for a weekend. It is an event I truly recommend. You can find the forum here: BCRC Forum

There is also Reptiles Canada, a Canadian site with a wide diversity of knowledge.

And another site to visit that specializes in corns is www.cornsnakes.com. This is truly THE place to go for corn snake information.

You can also visit www.ball-pythons.net for questions & care specific to ball pythons.

At all of these places, you can post photos, ask questions, and discuss things with other breeders. Very valuable resources, in my eyes.

If you would rather get information right from the source, don’t hesitate to contact us! We’re always happy to talk snakes!