Is Chlorine Bad For Snakes?

is chlorine bad for snakes

Chlorine is a corrosive and harmful chemical that is most commonly found in bleach.  While chlorine does a great job of keeping things clean and disinfected, chlorine can also cause harm to people and animals.  You probably already know that bleach is not good for humans, but what about snakes?  They have super tough skin and are so different from us.

So, is chlorine bad for snakes?

Unfortunately, chlorine is harmful to snakes in the same way that it is harmful to us.  Ultimately chlorine can cause snakes to have pain in their skin, eyes, and in their lungs.  Many snakes are super sensitive to chlorine and even contact with it in their drinking water can bring about a rash. 

So, let’s talk a little bit more about whether you should be worried and how you can protect your snake from chlorine.

Is Chlorine Bad For Snakes?

Chlorine is definitely bad for snakes!

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), chlorine is one of the most manufactured chemicals in the U.S.  That means that chlorine is everywhere!  In our water, our cleaning supplies, and sometimes in our food.  Usually, these levels of chlorine have been deemed safe and acceptable for humans.

However, these human safe levels might still be too high for your pet snake!  Exposure to chlorine is bad for all animals.  Even humans shouldn’t have contact with liquid chlorine or chlorine gasses.

Although chlorine can be present in a gas or liquid form, snakes are especially susceptible to exposure through thier water.  Are you wondering why snakes are more sensitive to this chemical than we are?

What Does Chlorine Do To Snakes?

Chlorine has a strong effect on snakes because of the way that they drink water.

Snakes and reptiles in general are special because they can gain and lose hydration through their skin.  This means that instead of drinking from a water bowl, a snake might choose to sit in it to become better hydrated.  Not only is this a reason why you should change your snake’s water often, but it’s also a reason to keep all of the water in your snake’s enclosure chlorine free.  Because snakes hydrate through thier skin, their skin is susceptible to bad side effects from chlorine.

The most common thing that chlorine will do to a snake is cause skin irritation.  Because chlorine is corrosive and damaging, it hurts the skin of a snake.  Since water moves through snakeskin, the chlorine will not feel good!

Chlorine has also been shown to have side effects on other sensitive tissues like the eyes and the lungs.  If you clean your snake’s tank with chlorine, there might be chlorine vapors left over after you put your pet back inside.  As the chlorine continues to evaporate, your snake might breathe it in and feel sensitivity in its lungs.  Chlorine is bad for snakes all around and should be kept out of thier water and enclosures.

Can Snakes Go In Chlorinated Pools?

As you can imagine, snakes and chlorine pools don’t mix well.

If you’re thinking of taking your snake for a swim, well, it’s not a good idea.  In the first place, most snakes aren’t aquatic.  And actually, snakes like ball pythons can swim, but will only swim out of necessity, not pleasure.   And of course, if you have a chlorine pool, the water could be harmful to your pet.

Maybe you have a pool and you’re wondering why you’ve found snakes in it!  Here are a few tips on how to prevent snakes from accidentally getting stuck in your chlorinated pool.

How Do You Keep Snakes Out Of Your Pool?

To keep snakes out of your pool, try keeping pushes and plants away from the edges.  Snakes aren’t likely to wander across the empty ground, they’ll usually prefer a nice route with cover overhead.  If you keep bushes and trees away from your pool, you’ll help to deter snakes.

Can Snakes Drink Tap Water?

Did you know that a lot of tap water actually contains chlorine?

Now, these levels aren’t necessarily harmful to humans, but your small scaly friend might have an adverse reaction!  Snakes shouldn’t drink tap water unless it’s chlorine free.  Luckily you can buy some chlorine test strips from your local pool supply store to check your tap water and see if it’s snake safe or not.

If you’re doubting whether your snake can even drink water, they can!  Not all snakes will drink water but they do have the ability to.  Like many other interesting things with snakes, the way they drink water is fascinating.  Here is a video to illustrate that process:

But don’t worry, if your tap water does have chlorine in it, there are tons of ways to make the water safe for your pet.  We’ll discuss these in a moment.

Can You Soak Snakes In Tap Water?

For the same reasons you shouldn’t let your snake drink tap water, you also shouldn’t soak your snake in tap water.

Soaks are an important part of snake husbandry.  Warm water soaks are hydrating for your pet and can become a nice place for your snake to rest while you clean thier tank out.  As you can imagine the water that you soak your snake in is very important, and should never contain any traces of chlorine.

So, if your tap water is chlorinated, what water can you offer to your snakes?

How To Make Water Safe For Snakes.

As a snake owner, you’ll always want to make sure your pet has access to water.  Even if your snake isn’t an avid drinker, it still might use the water when you’re not looking.  Water in an enclosure can also help to raise humidity levels for reptiles that like a tropical environment.

Really any water that’s in your snake’s tank should be chlorine free.

If you want to use chlorinated tap water, you can make it safe and friendly by letting it sit out overnight.  You can pour your snake’s water into a large container without a lid.  Overnight, the chlorine will evaporate out and leave you with clean water.  Although this process does take some time, it’s affordable and easy to do!

You can also install a water filter for your sink water, or just give your snake filtered water from the fridge or another filtered source. Filtered water is great for your snake because it still contains minerals that are beneficial for its health, but there won’t be any chlorine present.

You might want to stay away from offering your snake distilled water.  Although distilled water is definitely chlorine-free, this water is lacking minerals and electrolytes.  In the long run, distilled water won’t be as effective at rehydrating your pet snake.  It’s not bad for your pet, but not recommended!

What If I’ve Been Giving My Snake Chlorinated Water?

If your snake was drinking chlorinated water, don’t worry.  It’s more long-term exposure that will cause them harm.  If you do find that your snake has some skin issues, you might want to consider running a chlorine test on your water, to make sure you’re not causing them harm.

If you feel like your snake has developed a skin issue from exposure to chlorine, we recommend making a trip to your local exotic pet vet.  They will be able to assess the situation and give you a way to resolve the issue.

Final Thoughts

Chlorine is bad for snakes.  It’s even worse for snakes than for humans!  If you have sensitivities to swimming in chlorinated pools, you can imagine how a snake with a skin rash feels after contact with chlorinated water.

If your tap water is chlorinated, make sure to give your snake filtered water only.  That way, if they do choose to drink their water or soak in their water dish, they’ll be safe from any adverse side effects!