Summary: Water snakes live in both sea and freshwater. There are species of snakes that live in the sea, such as the sea krait, and there are those that prefer to live close to water sources like ponds and lakes. They don’t breathe underwater and sea snakes can’t sleep too long underwater because they’ll need to surface for more oxygen.
Water snakes that live close to the pond do not really live underwater. They hunt in the water and live under rocks. Sea snakes, however, live in the ocean in depths typically not more than 100 feet deep. Land snakes may be attracted to pools and ponds because they also attract lots of prey for the snakes such as mice and frogs.
Why do Snakes Live in Water?
Snakes live in water because underwater habitats provide protection, food sources, and above freezing temperatures.
From an evolutionary perspective, snakes have managed to thrive in various environments, except in freezing places. Snakes are cold-blooded, and therefore cannot survive in freezing temperatures.
The vast majority of water bodies, on the other hand, maintain above freezing temperatures year-round.
Underwater habitats are also teeming with life. There is an abundant supply of food. They can eat either fish or eggs. Snakes can also bask under the sun on rocks beside the body of water to get warm.
Snakes also live underwater because, quite simply, some species evolved to survive these conditions. The reason behind this is the same as why snakes are found in arid deserts. Snakes are versatile. They did not choose to live underwater, but their species adapted to it millions of years ago.
Related Article: How Do Snakes Swim?
Where do Water Snakes Live?
Sea snakes have different habitats. Here are some specific areas where one can find them:
- Indian Ocean
- Pacific Ocean
- Coast of the Americas
Some snakes live in coral reefs where they hunt, and some prefer to live in mangroves. While many water snakes rest under rocks and trees, they never venture too far from the body of water.
Water snakes are found everywhere: ponds, lakes, marshes, sea, ocean floor, and rivers. Sea snakes typically hunt on ocean floors, while freshwater snakes wait in shallow waters with their mouths open.
Sea snakes are the only reptiles that lay eggs in the water. Crocodiles do not lay eggs in the river or marsh. Instead, they nest and lay their eggs on land. Sea snakes, however, hatch underwater.
Read More: Where do Snakes Nest?
Do Snakes Breathe Underwater?
Snakes do not have gills. As such, they have to surface from time to time, like whales. A northern water snake can last underwater for an hour and a half. Some can last up to eight hours.
Like whales, snakes seem to have an automated mechanism when to surface to breathe. They take a deep breath before hunting for food on the ocean floor.
Not all sea or freshwater snakes share the same abilities to breathe underwater. Some can only last for 30 minutes before they need to resurface and breathe oxygen.
Snakes live in the Indian and Pacific Oceans
There are many snakes that live in the ocean. Most of them are in the Indian or Pacific oceans, and below are some examples.
- Horned sea snake
- Olive sea snakes
- Grey’s mudsnake
- Port Darwin mudsnake
- Sea kraits
- Yellow-bellied sea snake
- Black snakes
Many of these sea snakes are thriving and are not considered in the endangered list. However, the Laticauda crockery is classified as vulnerable. Some sea snakes are listed with a status of great concern.
Related Article: Are Water Snakes Viviparous?
Snakes that live in Freshwater
Most snakes that live in freshwater are not venomous. They are typically found in North America, but one must know that they are different from the cottonmouths (moccasin). Moccasins are poisonous, and water snakes are not.
Here are some examples of water-snakes:
- Green anaconda or water boa
- Brazilian smooth snake
- Eastern water snake
- Asiatic water snake
- Chequered keelback
- Brown-banded water snake
- Dog-faced water snake
- Rainbow water snake
- Rice paddy water snake
- Puff-faced water snake
Most freshwater snakes, unlike sea snakes, are aggressive. They do not like being handled, and they will hiss and bite to defend themselves. As such, they are not ideal as pets.
Water snakes also climb trees and will stay there to rest. If they feel threatened or if they are disturbed, they will come down and stay underwater until they feel safe.
Most water snakes are nocturnal and solitary. They hibernate during the winter and then become social at the beginning of spring. They tend to bask in the sun with the same species once the winter is over.
How do Sea Snakes Sleep?
It’s not clear if sea snakes sleep underwater as scientists find it hard to tell when a snake is actually sleeping or just sitting really still!
Sea snakes are highly adapted to marine life. While they cannot breathe underwear, some could stay underwater for eight hours.
Their skin can absorb up to 33% of the oxygen that they need, and they can also get rid of their bodies’ carbon dioxide in the same capacity.
Although there is not a lot of studies done about how snakes sleep, scientific proof is available saying that snakes do have circadian rhythms. It is an indication that snakes sleep. Scientists also found out that snakes probably sleep after a meal.
No one knows how long snakes need to rest and sleep. It is atypical for mammals to rest for eight hours or more. However, snakes are reptiles, and they have no eyelids.
Since they do not close their eyes, it is difficult to time or measure how long they sleep on land, let alone underwater.
Snakes are one of the perfect examples of animal evolution. They can live in many areas as humans do, except in snowy places. Snakes live in both freshwater and saltwater. Snakes do not have gills. They have to come back to the surface from time to time to breathe.
Not all water snakes share the same kind of behavior. Some are aggressive, and some are not. Most sea snakes are venomous. Most freshwater snakes are not venomous but are more aggressive than their sea counterparts.
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