Snake Tattoo Meaning and Symbolism

I get it; the mere mention of snake has gotten you all jittery, right?

I totally understand because like many people, I’m not really a fan of snakes.

When I think of all the things snakes have done starting from seducing Eve and causing the fall of Adam and Eve in the Bible, or how poisonous they can be, I can’t help but stick to my fear of snakes.

But then again, not everyone is afraid of snakes.

In fact, if you get to learn more about snakes, you might start adoring them.

If you are among those that love snake tattoos but don’t really know what they represent, then you are in the right place.

We are going to be delving into everything you need to know about snake tattoos.

First, let’s look at its meaning.

What Does A Snake Tattoo Signify?

To help you choose what your snake tattoo will mean to you, let’s go over what snakes mean in different cultures.

Snakes have been in existence since time immemorial.

No wonder it’s very common to find snake images in literature, arts, and even religion.

While snakes may be abhorred because of how poisonous they can be, they are, most of the time, harmless except when they strike in self-defense.

In most situations, snakes are regarded as sacred creatures because of the roles they play in life.

Taking a look at the African culture and beliefs, snakes are seen as gods that protect sacred temples, especially in Egypt. In another part of Africa, snakes are reputed as embodiments of wisdom.

Then in Buddhism, snakes signify rebirth, mortality and even death. The idea here is that snakes can transform and be reborn. When you think of how the snake sheds its old skin to reveal a new skin, you will understand this idea better.

Again, the snake shedding its old skin to reveal a new one is taken to mean that people must transform themselves in order to move forward. We, as humans, must transform both our bodies and minds. 

One culture that sees snake in a completely different light is the Chinese culture. Unlike most cultures, they do not regard the snake to be evil. Instead, snakes connote wisdom, grace, divination, organization, divination, mystery and wit.

Bringing it to the Greek mythology, the Greek god known as Asclepius has a staff that is wrapped round with a snake. This signifies health and medicine.

Have you ever wondered where healthcare organizations, universities, and other organizations around the globe got their symbol of staff and snake? Now you know. And it’s all thanks to the Greek god.

Snake as a symbol of life and rebirth is not only peculiar to Buddhism. Native American culture holds the same belief. However, this belief differs from one tribe to another. For Hopi people, they have a festival they hold to mark the union of the Snake Girl and the Snake Youth. This, they do to renew nature’s fertility.

Then for the Ojibwa tribe, snake signifies transformation, rebirth and healing. And for the Pueblo tribe, snake means fertility.

Another symbolism of snakes is life and earth, and is thus regarded as a sign of prosperity and fertility.

They are also depicted as umbilical cord that ties one to Mother Earth in some cultures.

Snake and dagger tattoos are often used to represent war. However, it is not necessarily war, but could signify the constant battles we face every day and still overcome.

In Norse mythology as well as in African Dahomeyen culture, snakes are often depicted as biting their own tails. It symbolizes the cycle of life and immortality.

Now, you can see that snake tattoos can mean a lot of things.

What Makes The Snake Tattoo Popular?

The thing about snake tattoo is that they are not gender-restrictive. This is one of the reasons this tattoo is very popular.

The idea that snake symbolizes wisdom, knowledge, fertility, and patience is another reason you will find it as one of the popular tattoos.

Even in the creation of the planet, snakes are taken to represent lighting and rain. Therefore, it gives a certain aura of superiority tattoo.

Universally, the snake has special ties to different cultures. And because they are specific to regions and cultures, snake tattoos are not usually regarded as offensive.

In Japan, the Hebiand Pit Viper snakes symbolize good luck, good omen, as well as human’s defense. Since these are the things humans need, it is therefore not surprising that the Hebi is a very popular snake tattoo.

Snakes can represent sacredness, especially white snakes. Therefore, this attribute is one major reason people love the snake tattoo.

Still on the issue of popularity, snakes are often seen as predators. Some people use snake tattoos to show off their predator, dangerous, and mystic sides. And the tattoo that well-depicts this is the snake and skull tattoo.

It’s so easy to manipulate a snake tattoo by pairing it with other images to make it stand out even more.

Just as we pointed above, snakes are used in the field of medicine, healing and knowledge. It, therefore, won’t be surprising if this is part of the reasons why snake tattoos are popular.

If we are still wondering why snake tattoos are popular,the versatility and uniqueness of the snake is another major reason.

Best Placement For A Snake Tattoo

Due to the aesthetical features and intricate details of the snake, a snake tattoo virtually works well on any part of the body.

But, if you truly want to reveal the beauty of the snake, you should consider tattooing it around your limb. That way, all the features of the snake will be clearly visible.

For the bold and daring, a full snake tattoo on the back is another good place to have this tattoo.

However, the snake tattoo, like most tattoos goes well on the wrist, ankles, arms and check area.

The snake tattoo also works well in such places as behind the ear, in between the fingers, the ribs and forearm. These are good choices if you want the tattoo to be small.

Oh, by the way, some people are bold enough to tattoo big snake eyes on their faces, shoulders or biceps. But don’t try this if you are faint-hearted.

Frequently Asked Questions About Snake Tattoos

What image best compliments a snake tattoo?

That would be a rose. Roses universally represent love. When paired with a snake tattoo, it has a different meaning like overwhelming passion and romantic temptation. To make it more outstanding, you should consider adding a traditional or Gothic art style to the snake and rose tattoo.

What does a sword and snake tattoo mean?

Sword symbolizes courage, protection, strength, and fearlessness. Snake, on the other hand, represents fertility, life, wisdom among other things. Therefore, a sword and snake tattoo depicts one taking a courageous stance. It also means that one is ready to protect life against all odds.

What does having a snake eye tattoo mean?

Oftentimes, people with a snake eye tattoo are seen as dangerously charismatic people who lure people into doing their bids. Some people belief that people with such tattoos have some sort of charms that help them command other people, or make things happen in life. While for some, it means that they are against anything authoritarian.

What does the snake and moon tattoo mean?

Interestingly, both the snake and the moon share some symbolism like fertility and childbirth. The moon alone can mean the different cycles of one’s life. Therefore, the moon and snake tattoo when paired together can be a symbol of change or renewal.


Since the beginning of creation, the snake has always being misconstrued to be a mean and dangerous animal that causes nothing but pain.

Thankfully, after reading this piece, you now know that there are good symbolisms of the snake.

Whichever way you want to look at it, one thing you should know is that snakes are powerful universally.

And they sure make a very striking and catchy tattoo anywhere they appear on the body.

If not for anything, at least now you can make better choices when booking an appointment for your snake tattoo.

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About the author

I’m S.R Bhuiyan, a proud Tattoo artist. I will share the body art journey with you here in PrettyJust. I have 10+ years of experience in the field of tattoo, piercing, nail art, and skincare. Check out my bio which has my tattoo studio/cat/travel pics!

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