How Long Can A Corn Snake Go Without Water 1

Corn snakes, also known as red ratsnakes, are a very popular pet snake species. As a primarily terrestrial snake, water is an essential part of a corn snake’s care. However, snakes are capable of going longer periods without water than other pets. So how long can a corn snake actually go without water?

Let’s take a deeper look at a corn snake’s water needs and how long they can survive without it under various conditions.

Corn Snake Water Needs

In their natural habitat, corn snakes get the majority of their water from the prey items they consume. Mice, rats, and other small rodents have high water content that helps keep corn snakes hydrated.

In captivity, it’s important to provide a reliable water source for your corn snake in addition to its food. A water bowl large enough for the snake to soak in should be included in every corn snake enclosure. The water should be changed daily to ensure it remains fresh.

Proper hydration is important for corn snakes to maintain organ function, digest food efficiently, shed skin properly, and remain healthy overall. Signs a corn snake may be dehydrated include lethargy, poor appetite, cloudy eyes, and difficulty shedding.

How Long Without Water?

The length of time a corn snake can survive without water depends on several factors:

  1. Temperature/Humidity: Corn snakes kept at proper temperatures (80-85°F) and moderate humidity (50-60%) will become dehydrated more slowly than snakes in very dry or hot conditions.
  2. Body Condition: Healthy snakes with adequate body fat stores will be able to go longer periods without water than underweight or emaciated snakes.
  3. Metabolism: Young juvenile corn snakes have higher metabolic demands and dehydrate more quickly than adult snakes.
  4. Available Refuges: Snakes confined to bare, waterproof enclosures with no hides will dehydrate faster than snakes with substrate, hides, plants, etc. to burrow in.
  5. Prey Consumption: Snakes that are actively feeding on prey with high water content every 5-7 days will be able to temporarily go longer without a water bowl than non-feeding snakes.
  6. Under suitable husbandry and with available prey, many sources estimate the average corn snake can survive 2-4 weeks without access to a water bowl. However, clinical signs of dehydration like lethargy may start appearing in as little as 1-2 weeks in some snakes. Stress from lack of water also increases disease susceptibility.

Some key factors affecting a corn snake’s water deprivation survival timeline include:

  • 1-2 weeks: Juveniles or thin/stressed snakes in dry, bare enclosures.
  • 2-3 weeks: Adults of average body condition in properly humidified enclosures with hides/furniture.
  • 3-4 weeks: Healthy adults actively consuming prey items in humidified planted enclosures.

Beyond 4 weeks without any access to drinking water, permanent organ damage and potentially death could occur in corn snakes if dehydration isn’t addressed. It’s important to never intentionally deprive any pet snake of a reliable water source for prolonged periods.

Special Considerations

There are a few special cases where a corn snake may temporarily go even longer without needing to drink directly from a water bowl:

  1. Brumation – During their winter dormancy period of decreased activity known as brumation, corn snakes use water very minimally from their body stores and do not require access to drinking water. However, snakes should not be brumating without ample body fat reserves.
  2. Breeding/Gestation – Gravid female corn snakes carrying developing eggs have additional water incorporated into their follicles/eggs and generally do not drink until after laying. However, access to water should still be provided during gravidity and breeders carefully checked.
  3. Post-laying – Females that have just given birth may delay drinking for up to 2 weeks as they recoverenergy/hydration from retained egg/fluid stores. Water should always be available just in case.


While corn snakes have adaptations allowing them to temporarily survive dehydration better than some other pets, proper access to fresh drinking water is recommended for all captive snakes. Signs of dehydration should never be allowed to develop in healthy pet corn snakes.

Typically, a reliable water bowl changed daily is sufficient hydration as long as other husbandry needs like humidity, temperature, and suitable hides/furniture are also properly maintained. Snakes that must be without water bowls for veterinary reasons or emergencies should receive fluids underneath the skin as a substitute until drinking can resume. With responsible care, corn snakes can enjoy long, healthy lives with all their hydration needs reliably met in captivity. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *