Why is My Snake Shaking?

Wondering why your snake is shaking? This guide is for you!

Snakes don’t typically behave like humans. This may make it hard to understand some of the signs snakes send when they have an issue.

For example, what do you make of your pet snake shaking? Well, your snake does this to communicate an important message about what it’s going through.

Your snake shaking can indicate various things depending on the circumstances. To interpret it correctly, consider whether your snake is doing it intentionally or not. If the shaking is paired with other symptoms, it’s likely a sign of trouble.

Also, you need to consider whether the shaking is new or habitual (repetitive). As a rule of thumb, don’t assume any strange thing your snake does.

It could be a severe health issue that requires immediate medical attention.

At the same time, you should be conscious that shaking can be a behavioral thing. If this is the case with your snake, you don’t have much to be worried about.

Why is My Snake Shaking? – Behavioral Reasons

snake shaking

Your Snake Feels Threatened

Your snake will behave peculiarly when it feels threatened. While some snakes curve into an ‘S’ pose, ready to strike, others hiss in anger.

Others open their mouths to show their willingness to defend themselves.

Some species vibrate and rattle their tails to show they don’t feel safe. Unfortunately, this could be what is happening with your snake.

Although tail rattling is commonly associated with rattlesnakes, it is an expected behavior with a few other select species.

Your snake rattles its tail because it feels unsafe in the new environment.

If you have stayed with this snake for some time, it could be that it has yet to be fully acclimated to your home environment.

As such, it may shake and rattle each time you approach it.

To stop your snake from rattling, investigate whether everything is alright in the enclosure.

Are your snake’s living conditions okay? Is the tank big and comfortable enough? What about temperature and humidity levels? Does the snake have nosy neighbors?

Your Snake is Laying Eggs

Is your snake an egg-laying female? This could be the reason you hear the shaking and twitching. Oviparous (egg-laying) snakes tend to shake and vibrate as part of their reproduction cycle.

Interestingly, some species of snakes will lay eggs even in the absence of a male companion. This is called parthenogenesis and is common with ball pythons.

Some species sit around their eggs after laying them and guard them until they hatch. The snake may vibrate periodically to give them warmth and encourage the hatchlings to come out.

This should not worry you. Your snake is just taking care of its genetic clones.

Maneuvering Large Prey

Your snake could be shaking because it has swallowed prey too large and is struggling to push it deeper into the body.

This could be a case of trying to swallow prey bigger than your snake can comfortably accommodate in its mouth.

With some bit of shaking, twisting, and adjusting, your snake may finally be able to get the prey into its stomach for digestion to commence.

Why is My Snake Shaking? – Health Problems

Dietary Concerns

Your snake might be shaking because it is unhappy with the food you provide. But, on the other hand, it could be this pet wants a change, and the only way to communicate is by shaking or rattling its tail.

Now, snakes don’t communicate as we do through a cognitive process. As such, the tail shaking is not premeditated or planned.

It just happens instinctively to indicate that your pet has had enough. But, unfortunately, this also means that your snake’s health may deteriorate if you don’t do anything about this.

For example, if your pet snake has not received enough Vitamin B1, it suffers from thiamine deficiency.

This nutritional problem may cause your snake to shake and rattle.

To solve such problems, ensure that your snake gets all its nutritional needs. Then, if necessary, use dietary supplements to take care of what your pet could be missing.

Neurological Issues

Suppose your snake’s shaking is not behavioral, habitual, or food-related. In that case, it could be a result of a neurological disorder.

This means something is seriously wrong with your snake’s internal system and urgently needs to be attended to.

You’ll know this because the shaking is something new and starts suddenly.

Some snakes are more predisposed to suffering neurological disorders than others. As such, you must understand the breed of your snake to know precisely what to expect from it.

Neurological disorders manifest in a number of weird behaviors, such as stargazing, corkscrewing, head-wobbling, and head-shaking.

What is Stargazing?

Your snake gets some kind of a ‘muscle pull’ when it looks skywards and cannot look back down for some time.

Stargazing happens when your snake experiences muscle contractions lasting for an extended period.

Usually, these spasms lock the snake’s neck in an upright position, and the reptile can’t seem to correct it.

This is a common indicator of severe health conditions such as Inclusion Body Disease (IBD), a neurological disorder of the brain.

What is Corkscrewing?

This neurological issue manifests in two ways. One, the snake is unable to move forward at all. Any attempt to propel itself forward sees the snake move in circles.

It ends up getting nowhere.

Two, the snake loses control over the muscles around its neck. As a result, the neck and the neck twist in a corkscrew shape, again impeding the snake’s effort to move forward.

Corkscrewing is a neurological disorder caused by poor nutrition and dire living conditions such as overheating.

Corkscrewing is often an offshoot of Inclusion Body Disease, IBD. This is a degenerative condition that affects your pet’s brain.

What are Head-Wobbling and Head-Shaking?

The snake suffers a neurological disorder that causes loss of body coordination. As such, the snake is unable to move forward or even hunt.

In the wild, snakes that suffer from head-wobbling and head-shaking die of starvation because they cannot hit their prey.

Every time the snake strikes prey, it misses the mark, and the target gets away.

Head-wobbling is unlikely to cause the death of your pet if you take good care of its needs.

Although you may not do much to prevent or treat this condition, you can be there for your pet snake to give him the love and care he needs.

Head-wobbling and head-shaking are common with certain species of snakes, such as the ball pythons.

Does My Snake Shake from Cold?

Being cold-blooded, snakes are affected by changes in the environment. However, it is unlikely that your snake will shiver from the cold.

This is because instead of shaking, snakes slow down their metabolic rate when it is cold. As a result, they also cease most of their more vigorous activities, such as movement.

A snake that is too cold may also vomit or regurgitate food in a bid to generate some heat.

All the same, some snake species can shake themselves to generate heat – although this is rare. A case in point here is Burmese Python.

When to See the Vet

If your snake’s shaking is habitual and something you can take care of at home, do so without delay. Change your pet’s diet if this is the problem.

Eliminate stress sources and improve the enclosure’s living conditions to make your snake happier and healthier.

However, if the shaking is random and you can’t identify its cause, do not hesitate to contact your vet.

The vet is in a good position to diagnose the problem and give you the best way forward.


Snakes twitch, shake, vibrate, and tremble for various reasons. It would be best to determine whether your snake is doing this intentionally or has been forced by circumstances.

While some reasons for your snake’s shaking are innocent, others indicate serious health concerns that need to be addressed.

If you know your pet well, you’ll know when medical intervention is necessary. But never shy from contacting your vet to assuage your fears.

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