Snake enclosures can be large, bulky, and expensive. That’s why some owners want to know if it’s possible to house snakes two together in one tank. The problem is that snakes aren’t particularly social creatures, and they’re also susceptible to illness and disease.
Housing a male and female snake together is never recommended because they’ll breed. This guide looks at whether housing two snake species together, such as two corn snakes or two ball pythons, is a good option. Will even the most docile pet snakes fight with each other?
- 1 Is Keeping Two Snakes Together Recommended?
- 2 Why Can’t You Keep Snakes Together?
Is Keeping Two Snakes Together Recommended?
Some owners will swear blind that their snakes have lived together since they hatched, and get along just fine. But others have horror stories to tell about snakes that attacked, even ate one another.
Aside from anecdotal evidence, is it a good idea to keep snakes in the same tank? Not really, although the answer does also depend on the species and sex combinations.
|Snake Species||Two Male Snakes||Two Female Snakes||Male and Female Snake|
|Two Different Species:||No||No||No**|
* Snakes that are housed together MUST be the same size and separated during feeding.
** Avoid putting together a male and female snake together or they’ll breed.
We’ll now seem to explain the reason why only certain snake breeds (and sexes) can be safely housed together.
Can You Put Two King Snakes Together?
Kingsnakes are the last that you should consider housing together.
Kingsnakes got their name because, in the wild, they eat other snakes as part of their regular diet. The same applies to king cobras, which attack, kill and eat other snakes.
Even if you keep them well fed, this is a terrible idea. Plus, unlike other snakes, two kingsnakes that are roughly the same size will still gladly attack each other, and one may eat the other.
Even if you leave them alone for a minute, that’s enough time that one might turn on the other. So, be safe, not sorry.
Milk snakes are closely related to the kingsnake (both genus Lampropeltis), do get along a bit better. But there are specific times when housing them together isn’t recommended, such as during breeding and feeding times.
Can You Keep Two Rosy Boas Together?
Rosy boas, by contrast, are gentler snakes. So, is it possible to keep two rosy boas in the same tank?
Even with rosies, it might not be the best idea. They’re known to cannibalize, not to mention that they breed reasonably quickly.
Having your female snake fall unexpectedly pregnant isn’t a good idea unless you’re prepared for it (and she is too). Again, then, keeping them together really isn’t smart.
Bear in mind that you can buy a snake setup for less than $200 and that with proper care, your snake will give you company for fifteen years or more. That’s next to nothing to pay for a pet that you’ll have for such a long time.
Can Two Corn Snakes Live Together?
Keeping two corn snakes of the same size together is possible, and you’re unlikely to experience any problems unless they’re both males.
It’s only possible to house snakes together if they’re the same size as one another. If the two snakes are a different size, one will be dominant over the other. They’ll steal the smaller snake’s food, bully them away from prime basking spots, and generally make their life miserable.
Female corn snakes get on reasonably well with one another, in fact, and won’t fight unless they’re different sizes. However, you need to feed them separately so that they don’t fight over food. Take them out of their enclosure and feed them away from one another instead.
Can Garter Snakes Live Together?
Garter snakes are rare among snakes, in that they’re a little more ‘social’ than other species. They hibernate (brumate) together, for example, throughout the winter. They hide in large dens, which can be filled with literally hundreds of snakes, if not thousands, according to Penn State University.
It’s a similar story when they mate when dozens of males all compete for the attention of one viable female in what’s known as a ‘mating ball.’ A mating ball is a big ball of snakes.
This is why garter snakes are one of the few species that are quite comfortable when housed together. Housing them together seems to reduce stress. That being said, you should still house males and females separately to avoid the stress of breeding.
Can You Keep 2 Ball Pythons in the Same Tank?
Ball pythons are probably the friendliest snake species. They’re incredibly docile with their owners, and would much rather curl up into a protective ball than try and strike you. You might think they’d get on well with other snakes in the same enclosure, but they don’t.
Ball pythons aren’t a social snake. They’re quite typical, really, and don’t display any unique social behaviors like garter snakes.
In the wild, they aestivate (conserve water and energy) by hiding in small burrows, but not with other snakes. They don’t seek out other snakes for company, and so you aren’t doing them any favors by housing them together in captivity.
Can You Keep Different Breeds of Snakes Together?
It’s not a good idea to keep different breeds of snakes together.
For starters, some snakes naturally predate on other species. King cobras eat other snakes, and California kingsnakes eat rattlesnakes, for example.
It’s in their nature to hunt and kill other snakes of different species. Not only that, but snakes of various species grow to different sizes, and grow at different rates. The bigger the size difference, the more likely that one will bully the other or even cannibalize it.
Besides that, different species have different needs. A reticulated python lives in the rainforests of southeast Asia and needs the heat and humidity it would find there.
Western hognoses live in drier environments. Even if they were the same size at the time, you would be compromising the health of one snake for the other.
Why Can’t You Keep Snakes Together?
So, keeping snakes together is always a bad idea. Even if you have the best-behaved snakes in the world, they’re still snakes. They’re still solitary creatures, and they still have natural instincts to fight for dominance, food, and mates. You can’t get rid of that through training.
Do Male Snakes Fight?
First off, two male snakes don’t make good housemates. It’s ingrained in them to compete.
In the wild, male snakes have to compete for both resources and mating rights. The male snake that eats more gets bigger and can, therefore, fight off other males.
They will, therefore, fight over any available food. If you were to throw food into an enclosure with two males in it, they would fight over it, and the winner would eat—the loser wouldn’t.
Not only that, but males will fight over breeding rights. In nature, the bigger males will fight off smaller males to get close to females that are ready to have babies.
Two males don’t even have to be around a female to fight—they do anyway, and that’s what will happen if you house them together.
Will Snakes Eat Each Other?
Yes, they can, and it happens quite regularly in nature. Some snakes prey on other snakes as a regular part of their diet, for example, like the California kingsnake. The kingsnake got its name because it kills and eats other snakes.
Also, snakes don’t control their feeding response, and once they start eating something, they can’t stop themselves.
You can see this if you have to get your snake on a rodent diet that they wouldn’t usually want, because one of the ways to convince them is to tie a rodent to a preferred prey item, like a frog. Once the snake starts eating the frog, they can’t stop until they’ve eaten everything in their mouth.
You can also force a snake to eat more by pushing a prey item into their mouth while they’re finishing their first prey item. This is another way to encourage them to eat a rodent diet if they wouldn’t normally.
Either way, the point is that snakes can sometimes eat things involuntarily. It’s just the way they’re built. A snake that strikes at another snake which elicits its feeding response will carry on until they’ve eaten the entirety of the other snake.
They’re not capable of thinking “Hold on a minute—I shouldn’t be eating this!” The worst thing is that you might have been housing your snakes together for a while before it happens.
Housing snakes together also increase the likelihood that diseases, infections or parasites will spread between them. This is self-explanatory, really, but the more contact snakes have with one another, the easier it is for them to catch a disease. Examples include respiratory issues, tics, and worms.
IBD is a particularly virulent and severe problem. IBD stands for inclusion body disease, and it’s an infection that’s always fatal.
It has a range of symptoms, including bubbling at the mouth, erratic movements and ‘stargazing’ where the snake seems to be locked in position, looking upwards. There is no cure for IBD, and it doesn’t look like there will be one any time soon.
Housing snakes alone decrease the risk of them catching diseases and parasites like these. You should also wash your hands after any time you handle a snake. This prevents you from passing on parasites and diseases through handling.
Snake Feeding Issues
Keeping two or more snakes in the same enclosure can cause feeding issues. That’s because snakes naturally fight for dominance.
The dominant snake will steal the other snake’s food, even if they’re not hungry. As you can imagine, this leads to all sorts of fights. And, of course, the smaller snake will be going hungry.
If you must house two snakes together, take them out of the enclosure to feed them separately, in two different places. Only once you’ve fed them both should you bring them back.
Unforeseen Breeding Issues
If you house a male and a female snake together, they’re going to breed.
Different snake species come of age at different times, but females are generally ready to mate between two and three years.
They have to get big enough to carry eggs and have to have enough energy stored to carry them. Males often come of age sooner than females do, and when they come of age, they’ll want to mate.
If the male mates with the female when she’s not ready, she won’t be able to give birth to the eggs. This causes ‘egg binding,’ which is where the snake tries to lay the eggs, but they’re too big for her to give birth to.
This can kill the female very quickly without veterinary attention. This problem is made more common because it’s a complicated process to figure out a snake’s sex. This means that you might be housing a male and female together unknowingly.
Stress in Snakes
Last but not least, snakes can get stressed out just like we can. If you house two snakes together, the constant competition can cause them to stress out, which in turn causes all sorts of other problems.
One kind of behavior that you’re sure to notice if your snakes are stressed is that they rub their face against the wall of the enclosure. This is the same as they’ll do when they’re trying to shed. Under stressful conditions, they’ll continually rub their nose until it’s raw. This can cause infection.
Cheap Snake Enclosures
People house snakes together to save money. But there are other ways to save money when buying multiple enclosures. That way, you don’t have to risk the health and happiness of your pets.
- Consider enclosures made from materials other than glass. For starters, glass is a more expensive material than plastic. But it’s also more expensive to heat, and keep it at the right humidity. Plastic enclosures save money both on the initial expense and in the long term too.
- Use cheaper substrates like newspaper or paper towels, rather than aspen or anything more expensive. Snakes that don’t burrow in the wild don’t need a deep layer of substrate.
- Buy snake food in bulk online. By buying in bulk, you cut down on the cost of feeding your snake. You can keep bulk snake food frozen for quite a while, too.
Alternatively, stick with one snake for the time being. Snakes don’t need company, either in the wild or captivity. If you can’t afford to keep more than one, then wait until you can.