Snakes are reptiles and some of the most skilled and agile predators on Earth. While their deadly snake venom, the vicious way they kill their victim, and cruelty gave them a bad name, snakes are worshipped and celebrated in many cultures and throughout different civilizations.
Aside from being merciless killers, snakes are also considered majestic, royal, and intelligent. Their rich symbolism and majestic looks gave them a rich symbolism, which we will detail in this article.
If you’re looking for a snake tattoo, you must’ve wondered what is the true meaning of the snake tattoo. They can be found in different sizes, on different body parts, and more often than not, represent different meanings.
So let’s look into those meanings and their symbolism and how they can be used to design the best snake tattoo that you will love.
What Is The Meaning Behind The Snake Tattoo?
When a snake appears in your dream, it’s said that your consciousness is trying to tell you to beware of your enemies and to be strong. But the meaning of snakes is much deeper and important in different cultures. Different civilizations connected snakes to both good and evil meanings. Still, the good meanings prevailed.
If you’re looking for a snake tattoo that will decorate your legs, sides, arms, or back, it can represent the following things:
One of the strongest symbolisms bonds to snakes is power. Power doesn’t have to mean anything bad. Snakes are quite important in the food chain in nature and are feared by many animals, especially rodents. Snakes often see enemies in other snakes too, so they can be feared by one another.
If you want to showcase that power has prevailed in your life, a snake tattoo is the best way to display that. Snake can also showcase a strong and powerful mindset, or people who are enthusiastic about sports, gym, exercising, and other sports activities.
Like you may know, some snakes are completely harmless, and some are venomous, agile, and vicious. They are merciless when killing their prey and are feared among a lot of animals, as well as people. With that in mind, a swift, agile, and venomous snake can mean danger for the one who is unprepared and surrounded by a large, hungry, or agitated snake.
Editor’s note: Keep in mind to know the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes. Non-venomous snakes usually have small sharp teeth and no fangs which are the source of venom. Additionally, their color pattern may not be as prominent as the venomous snakes.
Opposite to that, venomous snakes have large fangs that they use to inject venom into their prey. Additionally, they have colored patterns that are easy to spot. Non-venomous snakes on most occasions spot no patterns but just one color.
Rebirth and transformation are usually promoted by many animals that are often used as a tattoo, such as a phoenix that is reborn from the ashes, or a butterfly that spends a long time inside larvae until it develops into a butterfly.
Snakes go through a similar procedure, at least once or twice a year. They shed their skin, getting rid of the dead skin and letting the fresh and young skin surface. That can be used to hint transformation and rebirth of a personality after hardship in life.
At least once in life, everyone goes through a difficult situation with an illness, breakup, losing a job, losing a loved one, and every time they are forced to come out stronger of that situation. The shed skin hints at a symbolism at that situation and gives hope to those who own the tattoo that better days are coming as long as they work on themselves.
The snake tattoo can also hint at healing. No matter how dangerous may the venom be, a lot of medical institutions and alternative medicine institutions test and experiment on snake venom to make new and better medicines in the future.
Snake venoms have been used in medicine for hundreds, if not thousands of years, especially as part of Chinese medicine. However, it’s worth noting that less than 1% of the snake venom has been sequenced and characterized to use in medicine, so there could be even more hidden gems to be used for medical purposes.
The tales of snakes appear in great part in the Bible, particularly in the old testament, especially in the story as old as time, and that is Adam and Eve and the Apple of Eden, where the devil disguised as a snake convinced Eve to try the forbidden fruit.
Since then, both apples and snakes often symbolized temptation. If you feel like you’re often prone to temptation and would like to mark it with a tattoo, a snake could be a good idea, especially if you add the apple symbol.
Similar symbolism also suggests that snakes also mean sin.
In some cultures, there’s a belief that snakes offer and deliver protection. Some tales suggest that every household has a small green or white snake that hides in the porch, garden, or basement. Some family members report to see them, and then they disappear.
If you believe in that, a snake tattoo can represent family protection and the protection of your loved ones. It’s a great idea especially if you’re looking for a large tattoo.
Also Read: 18 Best Protection Tattoo Ideas & Meanings
In many cultures, snakes are celebrated as the symbol of fertility and placed on the body of pregnant women or women who had problems with fertility and conceiving.
Snakes have a phallic shape which can also hint at fertility. With that in mind, that’s the symbol of life force. The snake tattoo can also represent the fight for fertility and going through that process.
Have you heard about Ouroboros? It’s an ancient image that shows a snake that is eating its tail. While a lot of historical sources claim that the mythical creature in question is a dragon, a lot of historical experts agree that it’s a snake, and for the longest of time, it represented the life cycle and reincarnation that comes following death. It can also represent a transformation in life.
Snakes are also a symbol of medicine, because of their healing properties. A lot of pharmacological companies use snake as their logo.
In various cultural and mythological tales and legends, snakes are often sought after to provide any advice or wisdom for kings, rulers, warriors, and princes. It’s a representation of knowledge, composition, and wisdom.
What Do Snakes Represent In History And Culture?
Snakes have a rich culture, from Hindu times to Bible and Nordic culture and history. Below, we’ll highlight some of the most important historical tales that concern snakes and their meanings in different cultures.
Snakes in Ancient China
Snakes are thought about with high regard in China, especially because their venom has been used for a long time to make medicines. It’s believed that snakes can extend life, while also providing a good harvest and being the ultimate sign of fertility.
There are a lot of cultural relics in China, especially the southwest and southeast. Snakes were also the symbols of Earth and seen as majestic and godlike to the point that they are also a sign in the Chinese horoscope.
Additionally, snakes had a close relationship with the god’s Fu Xi and Nu Wa, the serpent goddess. They appeared in the tales of the Han Dynasty. Alternatively, many considered these two to be the Sun and Moon god and goddess, because of the ancient artworks made out of bricks and stones.
Snakes In The Bible
The Apple of Eden sees the devil disguised as a snake who tempts Adam and Eve to take the forbidden fruit, an apple that could change the way they are viewed. This tale changed the way women were seen in both Judaism and Christianity, but also showed snakes to be the symbols of temptation and sinning.
Snakes In Norse Mythology
Snakes were also quite prominent in Norse mythology. The Midgard Serpent, also known as a sea serpent, or simply Jörmungandr. The serpent was also mentioned in the Ragnorok tales which marked the end of the world that was known.
It was the child of giantess Angrboda and Loki. According to the tales about Norse mythology, Odin took Loki’s children the wolf Fenrir, Hel, and Jörmungandr, and tossed them into the huge ocean that surrounds the Midgard.
According to the Nordic tales, Thor, the son of Odin defeated the Midgard serpent.
Snakes in Native American Cultures
In the Native American culture, snakes appear in many wall and stone paintings, as well as sand paintings. Snakes were treated with high regard but had different meanings through the different Native American tribes.
In the Pueblo Native American tribe, snakes were a sign of strength and fertility. On the other hand, the Ojibwa tribe had the snakes be the symbols of healing and rebirth, because snakes shedding skin gives a large symbolism to that.
Read More: Snake Tattoo Meaning: Every Culture Has a Unique Outlook and Perception
13 Best Snake Tattoo Designs To Inspire You
A lot of people who attempt to make snake tattoos are guided by the shape of the snake and its origin where it’s coming from. Still, here’s a list of general ideas coupled with additional texture and patterns that could guide you while choosing your design.
1. Snake Skull Tattoo
We discussed earlier how snakes can be the symbol of danger and even temptation. Pirates were often marked by the skull-like symbolism and this combination of a skull and snake can just point at how deadly the snake venom could be. It can also have some deeper and darker meanings. Nevertheless, it’s a great print regardless of the position.
2. Medusa Tattoo Forearm Of Women
Medusa is one of the most popular mythological creatures, and familiar especially to the people who read Percy Jackson. She was cursed and had snakes on her head, which would turn anyone who’d face them into the stone. The petrifying power of the cursed Medusa served as an amazing inspiration for a Snake-themed tattoo. What do you think?
3. Devil Cupid With Snake Tattoo
If you’re combining some gothic elements into your tattoo then this gothic Cupid surrounded by a snake, while being tattooed himself can be a great tattoo representation for a gothic sleeve tattoo, but we believe it can be comfortable anywhere. You can also use this idea if you’re making the Apple of Eden-themed tattoo. The cupid has a trident and looks a little malicious. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but a good idea for gothic tats.
4. Abstract Snake Tattoo
This may not be interesting to everyone, but it’s an ink tattoo with a lot of deep meaning and abstraction. One hand is being extended as if it’s offering help to the other hand, which has a snake intertwined around its fingers and wrist. This can symbolize fake or toxic friendship or love. Additionally, it can also signify that not everyone is as friendly as they appear to be. Leave it down to your imagination.
If you’re looking for an inspirational abstract tattoo, that could hint at an event from your life, this is an excellent idea.
5. Floral Cobra
Cobras are some of the most popular snakes to make a tattoo of, and they are present in various cultures and tales. This particular cobra is surrounded by a floral pattern, which makes it a perfect design for girls who want to showcase their delicate side and that not everything is as vicious as it appears to be. Snakes can also be seen as misunderstood creatures, and maybe this tattoo is trying to convey that.
6. Side Snake Tattoo
Side tattoos are great if you’re planning a larger print. This tiny black snake surrounds a couple of roses that are deeply imprinted into the tattoo design. The snake shows great attention to detail, and this idea can be conveyed in different designs. The snake could likely be made smaller if you want to put it in multiple positions, as well as the flowers.
7. Half-Sleeve Snake Tattoo
This half-sleeve snake design is going to blow you off, and it surprisingly resembles the Midgard Serpent from Nordic mythology. The design simply looks majestic, and as you can see, represents an entire drawing print, with a giant snake located in the castle. There are no colors, but everything looks quite detailed and perfectly illustrates the scales and patterns of the snake, as well as the colossal fangs.
8. Demon Snake
This is another interesting Snake tattoo design that sits great as a sleeve, but can also be used pretty much anywhere. It’s a rather traditional snake design, which closely relates to the Japanese Onii. The yellow snake, closely surrounds the mouth and head of the demon, while the demon looks as if he’s been biting it.
9. Lady With A Snake Tattoo
We called this lady with a snake tattoo design, which doesn’t mean that it’s called this way. The reason we liked it is because it can be used to inspire snake designs with other humans, princesses, witches, women, or dancers. This also looks like a traditional style tattoo, with detailed and vibrant colors and lines. The scales and snake texture is deep and visible enough. This tattoo could take a longer time to make, but it’s more than worth it.
10. Snake in A Thorn
This is another abstract design that we liked. Snakes are the symbol of venom and danger, so it doesn’t surprise us that someone was inspired to design a tattoo that is a visual representation of what does it look like to feel mentally worn off. There is great attention to detail when it comes to snake design. It looks prominent, graceful, deep, and dangerous. It’s speaking the next volumes of the “don’t mess with me” vibe.
11. Snake From The Black Hole
The abstract designs never end. We have difficulties deciphering this one, but it looks quite interesting and rather detailed and majestic. The giant snake looks as if it’s coming out of a sky, a portal to be precise, or even a colossal black hole. It has large fangs and it looks like it’s up to something vicious. The scales are also realistically represented, while its body was shaped to the finest details. You can also combine the snake with other symbols and tattoos, but this one seems to fit into a more gothic pattern.
12. Snake In Attack Tattoo
Whether this snake looks happy, or just hungry, you’ll have to decide. What’s for sure is that it’s ready to attack, arching its majestic and flexible body into an attack of its prey. The snake was tattooed to the finest details, with special emphasis on its eyes, scales, and bodily shape. It looks thin and slim, which means it’d look great regardless of the body position that you choose.
13 Face Tattoo
If you’ve been wondering where on your face could be the best spot for your innovative snake tattoo, this side face tattoo of an angry snake in attack could serve as an inspiration. The snake is ready to attack, it has opened its mouth and sharpened its fangs towards the prey. This ink tattoo is more appropriate for darker styles, but it’s still inspirational for other snake designs.
More Things To Know About Snake Tattoos
We detailed all the best snake tattoo designs that we could find. If you have some additional questions about snake tattoos but you don’t can’t find the answers, we hope that you will find them here.
Which Gender Prefers The Snake Tattoo More?
We believe that there are no gender classifications when it comes to making a tattoo of a snake. It’s equally suitable for both men and women who’d like to resonate with the design of a snake tattoo. As we listed earlier, snakes are associated with a large specter of symbolism, so there’s no limit to getting a snake tattoo in regards to gender.
While men statistically prefer snake tattoos more, there are also a lot of women who make them symbolize a situation or emotion that they hold.
Read More: 100 Sexy Tattoo Design Ideas for Women (2023 Updated!)
Does A Snake Tattoo Hurt To Make?
Although pain tolerances vary, everyone reacts differently to the needle. Those with high pain tolerance can last for more hours and even sessions to make a perfect tattoo, while others may feel too scared to come for the second session. Snakes are usually used on large tattoo designs, which means they are more time-consuming, and with that, can be more painful to make. There is also a lot of textural details as well as patterns which can make the whole process more time-consuming and painful.
Can A Snake Tattoo Cover A Scar From A Surgery?
Snake tattoos are an ideal post-surgery tattoo to cover your scars. The snakes are slim and thin, and can ideally blend with your scar. Remember, don’t make a tattoo if your wound has just freshly healed. Make sure to wait until the wound heals in its entirety and then try making your amazing tattoo.
What Is The Best Position For A Snake Tattoo?
Because of their flexible and versatile size, snakes go well everywhere. However, a lot of people prefer arm and leg tattoos, especially if they are a part of the sleeve pattern. Still, snake tattoos look great on the sides, back, and even chest.