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Winter Habits of Snakes

Snakes are ectothermic (cold-blooded) so they are unable to regulate their temperature. Since this means they are vulnerable to lower temperatures, snakes generally hibernate during the winter. However, some scientists say that snakes don’t hibernate. Instead, what they do is known as brumation.

As the leaves start to fall and the temperatures grow colder, birds, bat, and butterflies will make their way south for the winter, but snakes are different. They don’t have anywhere to go, at least not very fast. For snakes, their best bet to survive the winter is to brumate in a warm area.

Cold temperatures can not only kill snakes, but they can also leave them sluggish, which makes them slower to catch prey and outrun predators. Snakes look for insulated dens that are hidden away known as hibernacula to survive the colder months, as well as colder climates.

Snakes that inhibit colder climates spend much of their year brumating.
Within the United States, usually, brumate for 7-8 months. For snakes in a milder climate, they usually brumate for a few weeks or a couple of months. If colder weather happens sooner than expected, snakes are forced into hibernacula earlier than usual too.

Hibernacula usually lie below the frost line or in microclimates that are protected by freezing. They are generally located in the mountains on the south side so that the snakes can bask in the sunlight. Hibernacula is also located somewhere near water.

Some species of snakes brumate communally within large shelters. For example, 50,000 garter snakes will brumate together in limestone caverns in Manitoba. Some snakes even share their hibernacula with other snake species such as rattlesnakes who share with hog-nosed or gopher snakes.

Most snakes tend to use areas that are pre-made to set up their hibernacula such as abandoned wells and bridge trestles. But, other snakes like to dig their burrows.

A hibernacula isn’t just used once and then never again, snakes can and will use the same one over and over again. The study showed that northern pine snakes in the New Jersey Pine Barrens use the same hibernacula regularly for 26 years.

During their brumation period, snacks are still awake and even active, to a certain degree. However, they have very low energy. In higher-latitude settings, snakes are free to move around within their hibernacula even more.

A snake moving into a winter den is called ingress and one moving out is called egress by herpetologists. There is a period during certain seasons when the night is cold so snakes ingress, but the day is warm so the snakes egress and bask in the sun near their hibernacula.

Snakes are a common problem during the winter season for homeowners because they are trying to find a place to stay warm. This means that most snakes are found in basements, attics, sheds, and garages. If you find a snake on your property, it’s best to call in a professional.

Snakes are generally just looking for food, water, and/or shelter and they are not trying to be a nuisance. Wildout Animal and Pest Removal is the professional pest removal company you want when it comes to removing snakes from your yard both humanely and hassle-free. Just give them a call today: 844-945-3688

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