In most cases, snakes are often calm and mind their own business unless they are agitated or start to get uncomfortable in their enclosure. So, what happens when you notice weird behaviors? What does it mean when your snake keeps staring at you?

Your snake might seem to stare if it's asleep, hungry, or having the stargazing syndrome. All these will depend on your snake's breed and its behavioral responses. Once you understand your pet, you will be able to tell what it wants to communicate by a stare.

To help you get familiar with this behavior, I will take you through different reasons why snakes stare and then go deeper into the stargazing syndrome. By the end of this piece, you will have a clue on how to decipher your snake's issue. Let get to the bottom of this!

Why Does My Snake Stare at Me?

Many people do not think snakes have feelings, much less be capable of loving other animals or humans. It's almost natural for someone to flee at the sight of these reptiles, yet the snake might be more afraid of the human than the other way around. This is why it takes a lot of courage to take in a snake as a pet.

However, some owners still feel a bit unsure when handling one. A staring snake will probably mean several things, although people often associate this with readiness to attack. There are three main reasons why a snake will seem to stare consistently.

It is hungry

Once you get used to feeding your reptile, it will try to tell you when it's the right time for a meal. Sadly, not everyone stops to listen, as your natural instinct is that snakes do not communicate. However, once any animal, including a snake, gets used to you as the caretaker, it will try to communicate what it likes and what it doesn't.

For example, some snakes stare when they are hungry. They will crawl to the glass window and just stare at you with a few hisses. If you pay attention and look at the time, you will notice that feeding time is around the corner. This could happen three to four days after the last meal.


It is asleep

Snakes do not have eyelids. When they sleep, the brain-eye activity slows down, allowing them to rest. For nocturnal snakes, a snake might be asleep during the day, yet the owner assumes it is awake or even staring as the eyes remain somewhat open.

To tell if a snake is asleep, it will:

  • Curl into a ball, tuck its head in a way that is hard for you to see it.
  • Stop moving and relax it's body.
  • Seem a bit confused when picked up as it tries to realign to their environment.

Snakes can sleep for as long as sixteen hours in a day, but others take as much as twenty hours, especially during winter.

Stargazing syndrome

This is not entirely a condition but rather a symptom of an unhealthy snake. A snake with this syndrome will raise its head as if staring at the stars and hold it's neck in one position for long as if it has a stiff neck. The position can also occur when your snake is trying to find better ventilation, but in this case, it will not hang too long.

Stargazing syndrome can be accompanied by symptoms that include:

  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Skin disorder
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Strained mobility
  • Looking upward as if looking to the stars
  • Turning their head upward

What causes stargazing syndrome in snakes

Scientists are still searching for more probable causes of stargazing syndrome. Some of these causes may be:

  • Viral infections
  • Meningitis
  • Leukemia
  • High fever
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Respiratory infections
  • Chronic regurgitation
  • Gastrointestinal system conditions
  • Central nervous system disorder
  • Sarcoma
  • Inclusion body disease

The most adamant cause is neurological disorders, which can be influenced by:

  • Pest strips
  • Pesticides
  • Toxins
  • Head injuries
  • Cleaning products
  • Flea sprays
  • General environment toxins

Getting a proper diagnosis

Since snakes can be a bit playful, especially when climbing onto their enclosure walls, one can easily ignore stargazing posture for natural behavior. However, when some of the above symptoms accompany the posture, you need to book your snake for an appointment with a pet specialist.

You will need to leave your snake with the vet for some time to allow proper diagnosis. The vet will:

  • Spend time with the snake to evaluate, confirm, and diagnose it with stargazing syndrome.
  • Find the underlying reason for the behavior.
  • Perform several tests, including physical evaluations, urine tests, x-rays, and biopsies.
  • Ask you a few questions about the snake's environment, diet, behavior change, and any other question that will help in drawing a conclusive diagnosis.

Treating stargazing syndrome in snakes

Every stargazing treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause. There is remedy, if your snake's syndrome is caused by either of the following issues.

Traumatic cases

Traumatic injuries on snakes are just as uncomfortable as for humans. A medical professional will treat a snake's traumatic condition by focusing on past injuries. The vet will draw a plan to soothe the pain and make the snake more comfortable in its environment.

Infections

If your snake contracts a viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection, it will need medical treatment. The vet will prescribe a few medicines and some shots to clear the infection.

Toxic exposures

There are two stages to this treatment in line with stargazing syndrome. One, since your pet snake is already affected by the toxins in its environment, it will need medical attention to clear out the toxins and reverse their reactions.

With the toxins being eliminated from its body, you now need to improve the snake's living condition. To do this, you should:

  • Clear out the snake's enclosure
  • Throw away any items previously affected by toxins
  • Thoroughly clean the enclosure using safe detergents
  • Leave it to dry
  • Reorganize the enclosure
  • Ensure you clean the enclosure regularly
  • Keep the temperature and humidity levels regulated


Stargazing syndrome recovery

Every snake will recover differently depending on the cause. You will need to leave your snake with the vet for a while and regularly visit to track it's progress. Your vet will also be in constant communication in case of any changes.

Some stargazing syndrome cases do not recover. If your snake is diagnosed with inclusion body disease, the vet might recommend a euthanizing process. This will depend on how severe the condition will be by the time the vet diagnosed it.

Both the vet and the snake's owner play a significant role in its recovery. This is because a snake has emotional and medical needs, just like any other living thing. In case you are not sure of how to play your part as a caregiver, ensure you discuss your concerns with the vet.

How to make a snake comfortable around you

Other than a snake staring as a way to communicate its needs, or as a sign of an underlying health condition, it may be trying to read your mood or your presence in general. Snakes are adaptive creatures. That's why you can tame them. Generally, when a snake is comfortable, it will:

  • Move slowly
  • Be quite active
  • Flatten its body posture
  • Climb its walls
  • Taste the air
  • Gently grip onto you

It takes some time before the snake gets used to your presence as the new owner. It's advisable to leave it alone for at least a weak when you first bring it home. Note how it behaves when you or any other person appears in its presence. An S shape with a sharp stare might be a sign of a prepared strike.

Rearrange its tank occasionally

Don't only try to interact with your pet when you are trying to feed it. This will only make it associate you with food. Rearranging the enclosure regularly without touching the snake will give it a chance to get comfortable around your presence. If it tries to bite, retreat slowly, so you do not scare it.

Hold your hand close to the snake

Try to hover your hand three to four inches away from the snake every once in a while. If it is still aggressive, wear protective clothing just in case it decides to bite. When the snake gets used to your hand's presence, it will start getting comfortable around you.

Try to hold it in its enclosure

Since your pet snake now realizes that the enclosure is its new home, you do not want to take it out just yet. Try holding it while still in the enclosure until it's completely comfortable around your hands. Later, begin taking it out periodically. You will need a big enclosure like this one: https://amzn.to/3rW8etV.

Final Thoughts

You need to understand your snake's behavior to correctly tell what a sharp or gentle stare means. Once you get used to these behaviors, you will easily decipher a message and know when to seek professional help. Stargazing syndrome is curable if diagnosed early and also depending on the underlying cause. Now that you have a few options to consider, I hope you will figure out why your snake keeps staring at you. All the best!