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For the monster class, see Snake (monster class).

A snake, S, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. It is a slithy, carnivorous and oviparous animal that is the namesake member of the snake monster class, and is capable of swimming and hiding under items.

A snake has a single poisonous bite attack, and possesses poison resistance.

A snake corpse is poisonous to eat, but eating a snake corpse or tin has a roughly 311 chance of conveying poison resistance.


Randomly generated snakes are always created hostile.

Snakes generate among the random S that are part of the first quest monster class for Archeologists and make up 2435 of the monsters that randomly generate on the Archeologist quest. They are also the second quest monster for Healers, and make up 24175 of the monsters that randomly generate on the Healer quest.

Snakes may generate among the random S that appear on the first and fourth variants of Medusa's Island at level creation.

Snakes generated at level creation are given a random item to hide under.[1]


Snakes are quick-moving monsters that can appear fairly early on and pose a significant threat: they are faster than unhasted characters, and their attacks can end your game in an instant. Their tendency to hide under objects also makes them an unwelcome surprise for the unwary or those who lack a means of detecting them beforehand: an early source of warning or telepathy is a godsend for characters looking to avoid poison instadeaths.

Fortunately, players can also exploit their tendency to hide under objects using projectile weapons - throwing daggers, darts or even rocks at a snake gives it objects to hide under, and snakes will often remain in place while a character fires at them from a safe distance. Characters that are orcish or playing roles with early poison resistance have much less to fear from snakes and their bites. A character that manages to discover and identify an external source of poison resistance can wear it to protect themselves and safely eat the corpse to try obtaining the intrinsic.


The snake first appears in Hack for PDP-11, which is based on Jay Fenlason's Hack, and is included in the initial bestiary for Hack 1.0.


Snakes are elongated, limbless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that are ectothermic and amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales. Many species of snakes have skulls with several more joints than their lizard ancestors, enabling them to swallow prey much larger than their heads. Snakes are thought to have evolved from either burrowing or aquatic lizards, perhaps during the Jurassic period, with the earliest known fossils dating to between 143 and 167 million years ago; some species retain a pelvic girdle with a pair of vestigial claws on either side. There are at least twenty-five forms of "legless lizard" that resemble snakes as a result of independently evolving elongate bodies with limbs that are either greatly reduced or nonexistent; several common groups of legless lizards still have eyelids and external ears, which snakes lack.

Living snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica, and on most smaller land masses with the exception of some large islands, such as Ireland, Iceland and, as well as many small islands of the Atlantic and central Pacific oceans. Around thirty families are currently recognized, comprising about 520 genera and about 3,900 species - the oldest preserved descriptions of snakes can be found in the Brooklyn Papyrus. Most species of snake are nonvenomous and those that have venom use it primarily to kill and subdue prey rather than for self-defense; some snakes have venom potent enough to cause painful injury or death to humans.



In SLASH'EM, snakes will not generate in Gehennom.

The Snake Pit of the Lawful Quest may contain snakes among the random 2-4 S generated at level creation.

Encyclopedia entry

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

[ Genesis 3:1-6,13-15 ]