What Snakes Can Live In A 20 Gallon Tank? [Top 3!]

A twenty-gallon tank is ideal for small rodents such as gerbils, hamsters, and mice. But What snakes can live in a 20-gallon tank?

Snakes thrive well in their natural habitat, and duplicating such an environment in captivity is challenging. However, a few of the best pet snake species can do well in a 20-gallon tank as long you maintain a conducive environment.

What Snakes Can Live In A 20 Gallon Tank 4 What Snakes Can Live In A 20 Gallon Tank? [Top 3!]

Table of Contents

What Snakes Can Live In A 20 Gallon Tank?

The rough green snakes, red milk snakes, and hognose snakes can survive and flourish in a 20-gallon tank. These snakes are small and can live comfortably in a 20-gallon tank. Ensure you maintain optimum conditions for your pet so they can thrive.

To increase the lifespan of your pets, do not keep multiple snakes together in the same tank. Only keep one snake per tank and ensure that the tank is well ventilated.

Learn all you need to know about the snakes that can live in a 20-gallon tank. You will also find more intricate details about the snakes, such as habits and diet.

What Snakes Can Live in a 20 Gallon Tank?

When combined with a proper lid, a 20-gallon tank creates special enclosures for various small species, such as reptiles, fish, amphibians, and mammals.

Altogether, a variety of snakes too can survive in a 20-gallon tank. Ensure you maintain the optimum temperature, lighting, and humidity for the snakes to grow well. 

Also, provide the snake with beddings such as paper towels, newspaper, or wood shavings.

Feed your snakes the proper diet and seal any gaps in your 20-gallon tank to prevent them from escaping. Drill holes at the top to allow air circulation, and that way, your pet snake will live comfortably in the tank.

Here are the snakes that can live in a 20-gallon tank:-

1. Rough Green Snakes (Opheodrys aestivus)

What Snakes Can Live In A 20 Gallon Tank 1 What Snakes Can Live In A 20 Gallon Tank? [Top 3!]

Rough Green Snake is a nonvenomous North American native colubrid snake. They are brilliant green on the outside and have a yellowish belly, which allows them to blend in well with green foliage.

Their color makes them difficult to see in the field, despite their relative abundance in their habitat. 

Opheodrys aestivus have a short tail and dorsal scales that are keeled and organized in 17 rows at the half.


Rough green snakes are widespread across the southeastern United States, from Florida to the coast of Maine.  They are widespread throughout Piedmont and along the Atlantic coast.

They are also common in East Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, northeastern Mexico.

They like damp meadows, dense pastures, thickets, tallgrass prairie, vines, forests, and bushes near water bodies.

Habits and Lifestyle

The snakes are highly arboreal, typically climbing through low foliage, and have great swimming abilities. Nonetheless, they also frequently crawl on the ground. Unlike most other snakes, they love to live alone and are primarily diurnal.

The snakes spend their nights curled on tree branches, shrubs, dense vegetation, or vine tangles. Rough green snakes hibernate during the cold winter months, often from December to February.

They are peaceful animals, frequently allowing humans to touch them close, and rarely bite. Even though they may bite when domesticated, they contain no venom and are harmless. The snakes tend to freeze to evade identification when attacked, banking on their green color for camouflage.

Nutrition and Diet

The majority of their diet includes insects or other terrestrial arthropods, although they also consume tree frogs and snails.

Mating Habits

The rough green snakes are polygynandrous, which means that both males and females mate with several partners. The snakes mate twice a year, once in the spring and the autumn.

While females begin reproducing between 21 and 33 months, males begin breeding between 20 and 21 months.

 Additionally, females lay between two and fourteen eggs, commonly in communal nests inhabited by several females.

You may encounter their nests beneath boards, in decaying stumps,  in deep mulch, and beneath rocks. The incubation period often lasts between five and twelve weeks. When hatchlings reach maturity, they attain a total length of roughly 18-20 cm.

Female snakes are indifferent to their children, and newborn snakes tend to hunt for themselves immediately after birth.

2. Red Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum syspila)

What Snakes Can Live In A 20 Gallon Tank 2 What Snakes Can Live In A 20 Gallon Tank? [Top 3!]

Milk snakes are nonvenomous snakes native to the New World, having a large distribution spanning North and South America. They are vibrantly colored and have an intriguing pattern.

Although milk snakes are commonly mistaken for venomous copperheads and coral snakes, they present no risk to humans. They are companion animals that are easily breedable in captivity.

Milk snakes are known for using mimicry as a protection mechanism. They are frequently mistaken for copperheads and coral snakes due to their vivid and blotchy coloring.

These nonvenomous milk snakes have grown to mirror toxic species to terrify predators. This type of mimicry is known as Batesian mimicry, where an innocuous species imitates a dangerous one.

While this is an effective defensive strategy, it has created complications for milk snakes. Humans frequently kill harmless milk snakes under the false idea that they are dangerous.

One easy way to distinguish milk bands is round and thick structure, but copperhead splotches have an hourglass shape.

Certain milk snakes have a color comparable to venomous coral snakes. Numerous milk snake subspecies coexist with the lethal coral snake on the same territory.

They have alternating color bands like coral snakes, but their patterning is distinct. The harmless milk snake has adjacent red and black bands, whereas coral snakes have adjacent red and yellow bands.

People use different rhymes to identify the two species in areas where both species coexist. 

Milk snakes use their tails to deceive predators into believing they are rattlesnakes. When people assume they are gazing at the dangerous rattlesnake, this can create issues. 

On the other hand, rattlesnakes and milk snakes are dissimilar; rattlesnakes are blander in color and larger than milk snakes.


Milk snakes have the broadest geographical distribution of almost any snake, significantly more than other snakes in North America. They are prevalent in Ontario, Quebec, and Venezuela. The snakes are widespread across Mexico and Central America.

They are virtually ubiquitous throughout the United States, except for the West Coast.

Due to their extensive range, milk snakes ought to be capable of surviving in a wide range of environments. They prefer forested habitats but are equally at home in rocky outcrops, fields, agricultural zones, and barns. 

Milk snakes prefer to spend their days concealing themselves beneath rocks, boards, or in barns’ deepest nooks and crannies.


Milk snakes are nocturnal and solitary creatures that would be most energetic during night and dusk. They venture out throughout the day, whether the weather is chilly or cool. On the other hand, milk snakes hide beneath logs, rocks, or caves during warmer days.

During the winter, milk snakes brumate in shared dens. Brumation is similar to hibernation; however, the animal awakens to drink water when bromating. You can find their dens in burrows or rock crevices.

Diet and Hunting

Milk snakes are predators that feed on various species, particularly mammals and birds. However, mice, voles, rats, lizards, and bird eggs are their common prey in agricultural settings.

An interesting fact about Lampropeltis triangulum syspila is that they occasionally swallow their dangerous coral snake doppelgängers. 

Milk snakes are fearsome constrictors. They encircle their prey until their heart ceases to beat due to a lack of blood flow. Once its prey has died, the milk snake swallows it whole.

Lifespan and Reproduction

Milk snakes mate between March and May, based on the subspecies. Typically, they breed after they emerge from brumation, although they may mate while still in their winter homes. 

When a female begins ovulating outside the den, she leaves a smell trail in her wake, and males will start pursuing her.

Milk snakes can copulate for several hours at a time. Their extended copulation may discourage other males from mating with an ovulating female.

The red milk snakes are egg-laying snakes. Female lays approximately two and seventeen eggs 30 days after sexual activity. 

Milk snakes lay their eggs in decaying logs, rocks, or soil. The incubation period, which can last up to two months, requires a warm, humid atmosphere.

After laying the eggs, there is no parental involvement. The mother snake will leave her children to fend for themselves.

Hatchlings measure 6 to 7 inches in length and have a vibrant color that fades with age. Juveniles frequently consume invertebrates before going on to mammals and birds.

Milk snakes reach maturity between the ages of three and four. However, their wild lifespan is unknown, but they may live up to 22 years in captivity.

3. Hognose Snakes (Heterodon spp.)

What Snakes Can Live In A 20 Gallon Tank 3 1 What Snakes Can Live In A 20 Gallon Tank? [Top 3!]

The hognose snake is a nonvenomous, small reptile. Although most specimens appear to the untrained eye to be rattlesnakes, their color and pattern vary significantly between subspecies.

Hognose snakes are generally greyish-brown or pale olive green in appearance with heavier dorsal patterns. Males are significantly smaller in stature than females. The name “hognose” refers to the snake’s modified rostral scale, developed in an inverted form, giving the snake a “hog-like” appearance.

Additionally, the versatility enables these snakes to burrow effectively

Although western hognose snakes are not deadly, their saliva can irritate humans, causing swelling and irritation. The rear-fanged snake bites exceedingly infrequently and is therefore not considered dangerous to people.

Behavioral Patterns and Way of Life

Western hognose snakes are predominantly diurnal and solitary. They spend most of their time hunting for food or sleeping in burrows made in the dirt by other smaller animals. Each year, these snakes brumate through the bitter winter months.

Generally, they are peaceful snakes, although they can be defensive to some people. When threatened (or suspect a threat), they may bend their necks like a cobra and hiss.

Even when confronted with additional harassment, Western hognose snakes don’t often bite in self-defense, preferring to play dead. 

While it is customary to keep their heads flat, some may puff out, enabling air into the neck. Male adolescents are more prone to encounter this.

Diet and Nutrition

The hognose snakes are carnivores. Their primary prey is amphibians like large and mid-sized tree frogs, tiny to mid-sized toads, and small lizards.

They may prey on birds and small rodents occasionally.

Defensive Maneuvers

The Hognose Snake’s small size and the fact that they are tasty to various predators in their surroundings exhibit a variety of protective actions. They will inflate and deflate themselves while emitting a loud rattling sound.

They can musk, generating a terrible stink of death when they feel threatened. The snake then flops onto their backs, mouths wide and tongues chortling. 

The goal is to deter a predator and cause it to flee.

The behavior is common among a small percentage of newly hatched Hognose in captivity, and it is charming. It may be unsettling if you haven’t seen it before, so bear that.

Some people may easily label the snakes venomous. They have a lethal blend of proto lipase enzymes in their spit, which they utilize to conquer frogs, mice, and fish. 

However, they lack hollow fangs; hence, they cannot infuse anything through them. They take a large mouthful and let their saliva penetrate the wound.

Mating Habits

Hognose snake males and females have numerous mates in a polygynandrous mating system. Females mate in the spring and lay with 4–23 long, skinny eggs between June and August.

The eggs hatch in around 60 days, and each hatchling measures 13-23 cm in overall length. Kid hognose snakes have no parental care and attain reproductive maturity at roughly two years.

Population and Population Threats

There are no severe risks to hognose snakes at the moment. However, agriculture has resulted in habitat loss in some distribution areas, jeopardizing these snakes.

The Hognose snake is regionally prevalent throughout its habitat. However, no population projection is available. The IUCN Red List has downgraded this species to Least Concern (LC), and its population is steady.

Ecological Niche

The hognose snakes are critical members of their habitat because they help reduce the masses of toads. 

Since their saliva aids in the breakdown of toad toxins, these snakes are one of the few species capable of withstanding toad venom.

Similar Posts