Food and shelter are basic needs for all animals, and when provided, your king snake should be comfortable. However, due to it's wild nature, you should also consider providing it with adequate hides to mimic it's natural environment. But what happens when you can't get it out of its hiding? Should I be alarmed when my king snake is always hiding or burying itself?
A hiding snake might be a sign of discomfort. This is why you should ensure it's enclosure provides the comfort and security it needs. It could also be a sign of agitation, rest, or skin shedding season. Therefore, understanding your snake's behavior will go a long way in interpreting it's response to the environment.
I look forward to helping you understand why a king snake would go into hiding and what you should do when it does. I will also break down why a snake's enclosure needs proper hides. This sounds contradictory to the topic at hand but stick with me. It will all make sense by the time I am done.
What Do I do When My King Snake is Always Hiding or Burying Itself?
You just brought home your king snake, and you are happy to have a lovely pet in your home. However, you can't seem to get it out of it's hiding. This can be frustrating, especially if it's your first time having a snake pet. However, note that this is normal for most snakes, so let go of the worry for a minute.
Snakes are wild animals, and they will always look for the best way to make an environment feel as homely as the wild. Although many people know them to be predator animals, they are also prey for many feral cats and birds. This makes them hide a lot whenever they feel insecure or uncomfortable.
If your king snake does not seem to be out in the open long enough, here's what you should do:
Understand its nature
You might be so wrapped up with the issue, forgetting that every animal has peculiar behaviors, especially where new environments are concerned. Learn more about your snake's nature before you raise an alarm.
Some snakes, especially towards old age, prefer being in hiding longer. They probably want to sleep more or shy away from the public eye. Others are naturally nocturnal, meaning you will barely see them in the light of day. During the shedding season, snakes prefer being alone, so they will likely remain in hiding.
Check in on the snake at night
Nocturnal snakes sleep during the day and are more active at night. Many king snakes are nocturnal, so this might be the reason yours is in hiding a lot. Try checking it's behavior when it's dark or at night. If it seems to be more active, then you know when to visit it.
Add enough hides or cover
The first time this consideration came to me for a hiding snake, I was like, isn't it supposed to be the other way round? However, if a snake feels its enclosure is too exposed, it will look for the best place to hide and remain there often.
You can make your snake's enclosure more comfortable by adding hides and climbable objects. This will make it feel more at home, thus coming out in the open regularly.
Why Do Snakes Hide?
Snakes have several reasons why they prefer to remain unseen. The most common one is as a defense mechanism from their predators. Here are other reasons:
Generally, no one feels entirely comfortable in a new environment, and apparently, neither do snakes. They need time to adapt, read the mood in the background, and also determine if the conditions are right for their survival. You will therefore experience a hiding snake pet in the first few days of it's arrival.
Want some time alone
Some seasons will naturally drive snakes to remain under or behind their hides longer. A good example is when the snake has just had it's meal or is about to shed its skin.
It is nocturnal
Snakes have different behavioral systems to help them adapt to environments full of predators. Some species make a habit of coming out in the night when their supposed predators are asleep. It's why these species are considered nocturnal. This means they will sleep in the day and come out at night. If you did not know that your snake was nocturnal, you could easily misinterpret this for hiding.
It feels unsafe in the open
Snakes love their covers for comfort but, most importantly, security. If a room is often crowded, a snake might consider remaining in hiding until people leave, or only familiar faces remain. Their instincts often interpret new faces as possible predators; therefore, they'll want to stay away to feel safer. This is more so for young snakes that are not used to being around people.
An unbalanced enclosure
Temperature and humidity are of primary importance to a snake. Since all reptiles are cold-blooded, they do not self-generate heat as humans, and other mammals do. They need external heat to warm up their bodies.
Snake enclosures need to have balanced temperature and humidity conditions. This makes the snake comfortable enough to hover around the enclosure. If a particular corner seems warmer than another, it will often crawl up and hide in that area.
Do Snakes Need To Hide?
Many people feel that if their pet snakes are often hiding, they do not serve the purpose of being brought home. You might think taking away the hiding spots should solve the problem, but this is far from the truth. Your pet snake needs to hide for many reasons, and here are a few:
To mimic a natural environment
Snakes are climbers by nature and will often explore their walls. They also need other climbable objects around and hides to feel at home. Such items mimic a snake's natural environment making it easier for your pet to adapt.
As a stress reliever
An open enclosure can trigger stress in a snake. Imagine your pet seeing something that it interprets as a danger but looking around, it has nowhere to hide. It will only get agitated, making its presence less appealing even for the host.
Hides allow room for your king snake to release it's worries. It will hide for the first couple of days but eventually get used to being seen often.
To rest after eating
Snakes love resting after eating to digest. They do not have teeth, thus break down their food slowly with their stomach muscles. Since this needs a lot of energy, the snake will need time to be inactive and digest. Hides are ideal places for this.
Apart from being agitated with a too open enclosure, snakes feel unsafe. Providing hides allows a snake to interpret its environment as being secure. It can come out into the open at will and also hide when it deems relevant.
How to Lure a Snake from Hiding
You can get a snake out of hiding, especially if it's not sleeping. Here are some tips to help you do this.
Regulate its environmental temperature
Snakes love warm areas. An environment that is either too hot or too cold will cause a snake to shy away. If you notice that one side is colder and watch where the snake tends to incline, you will know it's needs.
Add a light bulb or a thermostat to increase the enclosure's temperature. The latter is preferred since you can adjust it when the temperatures are on either extreme.
Place the food in the open
Your king snake will not stay in hiding forever. At some point, it will be hungry and come out in search of food. When the food is in the open, the snake will swallow it and then remain in that position for a while as it digests.
Snakes are also naturally curious, so even if it's not hungry but sees the food out there, it will come out to investigate.
Get rid of what scares it
Consider doing away with stuff that might scare the snake. If you have other pets in the house, such as cats, dogs, birds, or children who keep rattling the enclosure relocate the enclosure. Creating a safe environment for the snake to come out of it's hiding, and it'll do so naturally.
I understand that some snake's behavior can catch you unaware, but this does not mean yours is abnormal. Proper knowledge of a few behavioral changes will help you know how to deal with hiding snake pets. Remember, the more homely you make an environment feel for your reptile, the more it will feel comfortable showing it's face. Knowing when it prefers being out will also help you catch it when it's more active. With all these pointers, I hope you now know what to do with a hiding snake. I'll leave you to find your ideal solution. Cheers!