Simple and Humane Ways to Euthanize a Pet Snake

There may come a time when a sick snake is in so much pain that the kindest thing to do is to put them down. You should make sure that you’re euthanizing your snake in the least painful way possible. What is the simplest and most humane way to kill a snake?

The simplest and most humane way to euthanize a pet snake is to crush the brain. The snake will have a faster and less painful death than freezing or decapitation. Vets will use medicines to put a snake down that are also painless and humane, though that will be more expensive.

There are some important things to consider when deciding how to euthanize a snake. You need to be sure that you are making the right decision for both your snake and you.

How Do You Euthanize a Snake?

There are a few different ways to euthanize a snake. Crushing the brain is the most humane and painless way. It may seem like a violent option, but it is kinder than other types of euthanasia. When the brain is crushed, the snake dies instantly, so they don’t feel any pain.

When you crush your snake’s brain, make sure that your snake is on a hard surface, and use a hard object, such as a hammer or rock, to crush it. It is important to get a direct hit with enough force to instantly crush the brain; otherwise, you will injure the snake rather than kill it, putting them through even more pain.

Decapitation is another option for killing a snake. The problem with decapitation is that the brain can be active for up to an hour after, a time in which the snake is dying and feeling pain.

Freezing is a common form of euthanasia, but it is one of the least humane options. As the snake freezes, ice crystals will form in the tissues. These crystals cause extreme pain, especially if the snake is still conscious. The snake will be in a lot of pain before they die. Freezing may seem like the kindest option, but it is not.

Should You Have a Vet Euthanize a Snake?

You may want to consider having a vet euthanize your snake instead of doing it yourself. Euthanizing your own pet is difficult, especially in such a violent manner. If you don’t feel comfortable or emotionally able to euthanize your snake, there is nothing wrong with having a vet do it.

Vets have the tools and chemicals to euthanize a snake in a way that is equally painless and humane but is less emotionally traumatizing than crushing its brain. The vet will inject the snake with medications, and the snake will not suffer as they are put to sleep. Vets are also more experienced in euthanizing pets and know how to do it without scaring or hurting the animal.

Taking a snake to the vet to be euthanized will cost money, while doing it yourself at home can be done for free. Pet euthanasia usually costs upwards of $50, though it can also be done in your home at a higher cost. There are also cremation fees that are determined by your pet’s weight.

When Should You Euthanize a Snake?

If your snake is sick and will not get better or is in pain, it should be euthanized. There are a few signs to look for if your snake is sick.

  • Your snake may have a stiff or strange posture. Sometimes, they hold their heads awkwardly, as if looking at the sky.
  • Breathing in ragged gasps through the mouth rather than smoothly through the nose can be a sign of sickness.
  • Fluid discharge from the eyes, nose, and/or mouth means your snake is sick.
  • If your snake doesn’t shed all of its skin in one piece or has old pieces of skin stuck to the new skin, something may be wrong.
  • Lesions, scabs, swelling, or lumps on the skin of your snake are also signs of sickness. Your snake’s skin should be smooth and shiny.
  • Losing a lot of weight is also a sign that a snake is sick. If a snake is thin and bony, something is wrong.
  • Snakes are supposed to respond to motion and sounds. If your snake is lethargic, slow, and doesn’t respond to its environment, something is wrong.
  • If your snake doesn’t eat when they usually do, it may be sick.

If your snake is exhibiting any of these symptoms for an extended period of time, you should take them to a vet. Snakes can sometimes be slowly dying without you even realizing it. You need to look for subtle signs that something is wrong with your snake and ask a vet about them.

You should consult with a vet before deciding to euthanize a snake. If your snake is sick, there could be a treatment, or they may get better on their own. If a snake is dying, but the death won’t be overly painful, you should let them live out the rest of its days and die of natural causes.

Sometimes, when your snake is in pain there is nothing for you to do, and the vet can’t help. At that point, you should look into euthanasia. The best way that you can take care of them at that point is to give them a humane and kind death.

How Do You Take Care of a Pet Snake?

It is important to take care of your snake so they don’t get sick. You need to make sure that you are giving your pet snake everything they need to be happy and healthy.


Different snakes will eat different things. Some snakes will eat fish, worms, bugs, birds, eggs, or even other snakes. Do some research into what kind of food is best for your snake. It is important to feed your snake with prey that has already been humanely killed. You can usually buy frozen prey. Make sure to thaw it before giving it to your snake.

You don’t need to feed your snake every day. Younger snakes usually eat about twice a week, while older snakes eat once a week. If you are unsure of whether your snake is hungry, offer them food. If the snake is hungry, it will eat. If they don’t eat right away, then they aren’t hungry. Do some research to make sure that your snake is eating the right amount. A loss of appetite can be a sign that your snake is sick.


Like every animal, snakes need water to survive. Snakes do not drink water like a human or other kinds of pets. The bottom of a snake’s mouth acts like a sponge. It absorbs water for the snake to drink. The snake then uses its muscles to force the water down its body.

Your snake needs access to water at all times. Make sure there is water available 24/7. Put water in a bowl that is no smaller than your snake. They will soak in the water as part of the skin shedding process. You need to change out the water about once a week so it stays fresh and clean.

Only use filtered or bottled water so your snake isn’t exposed to any chemicals. You should check to make sure that your snake is drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated. If your snake is avoiding the water, that may be a sign of illness.


It is important that you give your snake an adequate place to live. A terrarium is the best choice for a habitat for your snake. For smaller snakes, a 10-20 gallon terrarium will be large enough, but larger types of snakes should have a larger terrarium. There should be holes in the top for ventilation, but make sure that the lid is on securely so your snake cannot escape.

Make sure you have good bedding in the terrarium. You can use newspaper, towels, Astroturf, or wood chips. Some types of wood chips are toxic to snakes, so make sure to choose a type of wood that will be safe, such as aspen or cypress mulch. You will need to clean the bedding and the terrarium about once a week.

Snakes are cold-blooded, which means they rely on their environment to warm them up. You will need to put a heat source in the terrarium. Only heat up one side of the tank, leaving the other side cold. This way your snake has a choice of what temperature they would be comfortable in at any given time.

Veterinarians are divided about whether or not snakes need light in their tanks. UV rays can help snakes get vitamin D3, but snakes may get enough of that from their prey. It doesn’t hurt to give the snake some UV, so use a UV-B light in the cage.

Your snake probably doesn’t want to hang out in an empty cage, so it is good to provide things to climb on and places to hide. You can purchase some hiding places or create your own out of empty boxes. Just make sure that it is safe for your snake to hide out in. You also want some plants, branches, and/or vines so your snake can have something to climb on.

Different types of snakes will have different needs in a habitat, so make sure you know what is best for your snake. Having the right conditions for your snake will make them healthy and content.


Just purchasing a snake will cost between $15 and $1,000 at a pet store or breeder depending on the breed. The lavender albino ball python has sold for $40,000. You can also get a snake from a former owner who needs to find a new home for them. You may be able to get a snake cheaper that way, though it depends on who you are purchasing the snake from.

The actual cost of owning a snake will include the price of food, habitat, and medical care. Purchasing a terrarium, heat lamps, and hiding places will cost somewhere between $150 and $600. Once you pay this initial habitat cost, you will only need to pay for food and vet visits.

For an annual vet visit, you will pay around $45-75, and you may have to visit the vet more often if your snake is sick or close to dying. Emergency expenses and lab tests are usually upwards of $100. Food will cost between $20 and $40 per month, which adds up to about $240-$480 annually.


Your snake doesn’t just need to sit in a terrarium and look cool. There are many ways that you can play with your snake. You’ll want to make sure that your snake is comfortable with your touch. Handle your snake for short periods of time so it can get used to your touch. Hold your snake above a soft surface, like a bed or couch, so that they won’t be hurt if you drop them.

Keep the door closed so your snake can’t escape into your house; it will be hard to track them down after that. Let your snake slither around her arms and between your fingers until they get agitated. Eventually, it will be completely comfortable with you.

Letting your snake slither around on you is a good way to play with them. Your snake will be happy to explore, and they will like the warmth of your skin. They might like to curl up under your shirt or in your pocket. You can also play hide-and-seek with the snake. You can release your snake and let them hide, as long as you keep them in an enclosed room. Then you can go searching for them. You can also let your snake go for a swim in a small wading pool.

Don’t play with your snake a few days after it has eaten. If the snake is still digesting, it might vomit during a game. That will not only make a mess, but it will irritate the lining of your snake’s throat. You also don’t want to play with your snake if they are shedding or about to shed. Snakes are under a lot of stress when they are shedding, and some snakes won’t like to be handled when they are under that kind of stress.

Don’t Blame Yourself

Treating your snake properly will help them avoid illness, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Even if you are taking great care of your snake, getting sick and dying is natural. Just make sure to make the best choices for your snake and take care of them the best that you can. If euthanizing your snake is the best thing for your snake, then it is the right decision to make.

Carolina Pieters

I'm Carolina and created this blog, to provide practical advice and emotional comfort for those dealing with pet loss.

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