escaped pet snake help
Questions About Snakes

How to Find a Missing Pet Snake (in 4 Easy-to-Follow Steps)

Your snake escaped its enclosure. Snakes are crafty, and if they see an opportunity to make a break for it, they will. It often happens when you’re cleaning out a snake’s cage. You want to find the missing pet snake in your home and return it to its vivarium immediately.

How do you find a missing snake? Snakes will seek to hide in warm, dark, and quiet spots. Search under furniture, cracks, crevices, and behind warm appliances. Set up basking spots and hide boxes in your home to lure your snake out.

We’ll share tips and tricks for locating your lost snake and luring them out of hiding. We’ll cover how long snakes can go without food, and what you should do if you think they’ve left the house.

How to Find an Escaped Pet Snake

We’ll now guide you through a four-step process to finding your escaped pet snake.:

1) Thoroughly Checking the Vivarium

This might seem like a fairly obvious step, but it’s important. It’s easy to panic when you can’t see your snake in their enclosure, and frantically start tearing through the house looking for them.

But there’s a chance that a small pet snake is hiding in its vivarium. Remember, they’re brilliant at camouflage and can squeeze themselves into very tight spots.

This is unlikely to be of assistance if you have an adult ball python, but it might be useful if your baby ball python or rough green snake has gone missing.

Before you search your house, make sure that your snake isn’t hiding in its cage. In particular, check the following locations:

  • Hide boxes. Snakes spend a surprising amount of time curling up inside their hide boxes. You won’t harm your snake by lifting the hide box and checking whether she’s inside.
  • Substrate (bedding). Certain species of snake, such as hognose snakes, enjoy burrowing in their bedding and can completely cover themselves. If you use aspen, sand, bark, soil (or anything other than flat newspaper) as a substrate, thoroughly search through it.
  • Underneath and behind decorations. Check behind the water dish, and in and around any logs, branches, plants, stones or other decorations that your vivarium might house.

2) Search the Immediate Area

If your snake has escaped from its vivarium, there’s a good chance that they have sought out a hiding spot in the immediate area. It’s likely that they won’t have left the room which their vivarium is in, so be sure to search the room before looking anywhere else.

The first thing to note is that snakes usually remain on the floor. It takes a lot of energy to climb up walls, stairs or furniture, so 99% of the time your snake will be low to the ground.

They also like to remain close to walls, as it helps them feel safer from predators. So, to start with, search all around the edges of the room.

The next stage is to look in, behind, and underneath everything. Snakes will automatically search for quiet, dark, undisturbed places to hide. They can squeeze into surprisingly tight spots, so even if you think your snake couldn’t possibly fit somewhere, still check it.

How to find a pet snake that has got loose

  • In, behind and underneath furniture, particularly furniture which is pushed up against walls
  • Inside cracks and folds in couches, beds, and chairs
  • Underneath rugs
  • Inside cabinets, storage boxes, bags, laundry baskets, and underneath piles of clothes

If there are any particularly warm spots in the room, pay particular attention to them. As snakes are ectothermic, they often seek out warm spots to bask in and heat themselves up.

3) Searching the Rest of the House

If you have entirely scoured the room containing your snake’s vivarium, and you are sure it’s not there, it’s time to search the rest of the house.

It takes far more effort and energy for snakes to go upwards than downwards. This means that, if your snake escaped on the ground floor, she probably wouldn’t bother climbing up your staircase.

Start by looking in rooms on the same floor as the snake’s vivarium, and then look on any lower floors before going upstairs.

In each room, carry out the same examination as we went through above. The key is to look under, in and behind everything in the room. Focus on warm areas, such as behind fridges and freezers, dryers and dishwashers.

If there are any cracks or holes in your walls or flooring, be aware that your snake may have crawled inside your drywall or underneath your floorboards.

4) How to Lure a Snake Out of Hiding

If you’ve searched your house in its entirety and you can’t find your snake, don’t panic. There are certain things you can do to help lure your snake out of hiding. There are also two easy traps you can set to give you a clue as to your snake’s whereabouts.

Snake Lures

  • Hide Boxes: place these around the edges of rooms, up against walls, where your snake will be traveling. Because of their dark and cozy interiors, your snake may be lured inside. You can even place heat pads on top of the hides, to make them even more inviting.
  • Water Bowls: you should place these throughout your house in any case so that your snake doesn’t dehydrate. You may be lucky and spot your snake taking a drink.
  • Basking Spots: use heat lamps or heat pads to set up “basking spots” in various places around the home. As snakes use external heat to regulate their body temperature, they’re naturally attracted to warm areas. It can help to lower the overall temperature of your home first so that your snake is more likely to seek warmer spots.
  • Thawed Rodents: some people advocate using pre-killed thawed rodents to lure escaped snakes out of hiding. Though it may work, you should bear in mind that your snake won’t smell the rodent unless she’s nearby. You may end up having to throw away several rodents if the snake doesn’t eat them within a few hours.

After you set up your lures, check them periodically for your snake. Bear in mind that your snake will usually be more active in darkness, so check back at night for the best chances of finding them.

Snake Traps

These methods won’t necessarily help lure your snake out, but they’ll hopefully help you figure out of where your snake is or has been.

  • Scrunched-Up Plastic Bags: Strategically place these around the edges of the room, behind and under furniture and anywhere else you think your snake is likely to run into them. When your snake slithers over them, you’ll be able to hear a crinkling noise.
  • Flour Traps: Leave a thick line of all-purpose flour, or baby powder, across any doorways in your home. If your snake moves from one room to another, you’ll be able to see marks in the flour, letting you know which way your snake has gone. You can also leave flour around basking spots, water bowls and hide boxes. That way, if your snake comes and goes, you’ll know which ones they’ve been using.
  • Humane snake traps: These can be set up around your home. However, we would not recommend using these as most “humane” traps use glue to keep the snake from escaping. While this may not kill the snake, it can be distressing and also hard to wash off.  Your snake may also come to harm trying to free itself.

What to Do When You Find Your Snake

Hopefully, after employing the above techniques, you’ll find your snake before too long. Most missing snakes tend to turn up within a week, after some thorough searching and clever lure tactics. Before long, they’re bound to get hungry and become more active as they search for food.

how long can a snake survive without food and water?

Once you find your snake, here are the things you should do:

  1. Bath your snake. This will help to rid them of any dust and dirt they’ve picked up on their travels (including flour if you used it). It will also help to rehydrate them if they’ve not been drinking from the strategically placed water bowls. Add a couple of inches of lukewarm water to a large bowl and let your snake swim around. Don’t use any soap products.
  2. Offer your snake water. If they’ve been gone for a while, it’s likely your snake is somewhat dehydrated, especially if they haven’t found any water on their travels. If they’ve been gone for long enough that they’ve missed one or more feeds, offer them a meal.
  3. Secure the vivarium. Finally, be entirely sure that their vivarium is safe and secure before placing your snake back inside. If you know how your snake got out in the first place, you should fix the problem before putting them back inside.

For peace of mind, you also might want to look into having your pet snake microchipped for the future. If they ever do manage to escape the house, and someone finds them, being microchipped means you’ll have a better chance of your snake being returned to you.

How Long Can a Snake Survive Without Food and Water?

If it’s been a long time and your snake still hasn’t returned, try not to panic. Snakes are well adapted to going without food for long periods.

According to research in the journal Zoology, snakes can lower their metabolic rate by up to 72% in response to the scarce food supply.

This allows them to survive without food for at least six months without losing body mass. Snakes even grow during this time. It’s likely that many snakes, especially adults, can survive even longer than this.

It’s likely that you’ll find your snake long before they reach the point of starvation. Snakes will become more active as they get hungrier, and you’ll likely find them once they start moving around.

Leaving out frozen-thawed mice and rats could tempt your snake out. Even if they eat it before you can get to them, you’ll at least you know they won’t starve.

Your snake won’t be able to survive without water for as long. However, as long as you leave plenty of water dishes on the floor around your home, your snake will find them.

What If I Can’t Find My Snake Anywhere?

So, let’s say that you’ve followed all of the above tips, and you still can’t find your snake. You already know that snakes can survive for months without food, so there’s no need to start panicking.

Keep topping up water bowls and checking your hides and flour traps every now and then. Chances are you’ll find your snake eventually.

However, if you genuinely believe that your snake has managed to get out of your house, there are still some things that you can do.

  1. Search the immediate area around your house. If your snake hasn’t been missing for long, they still might be in your yard or the surrounding area. It may be a good idea to knock on your neighbor’s doors and inform them that your snake is potentially loose. That way, if they spot it around their property, they’ll know to contact you.
  2. File a police report. Give them a description of your snake, your contact details and your address. If anyone finds your snake and phones the police, they’ll be able to return it to you.
  3. Phone all local veterinarians in your area. Again, describe your snake to them, so that they can let you know if anybody catches it and brings it in.

Try not to lose hope when you are trying to find a missing pet snake. Remember that snakes have turned up after months of going missing, and they’re usually not far away.