As the winter months draw nearer, wild animals in our area prepare themselves for the bracing cold. And while birds fly South, and squirrels store nuts, what do snakes do? Most snakes in our area go through a wintering process similar to hibernation, called brumation.
What is Brumation?
Brumation is a hibernation-like process for ectothermic (cold-blooded) critters such as frogs, lizards, and snakes. Ectotherms require heat from the sun and the environment around them to manage their body temperature. As the weather gets colder, these cold-blooded animals like to burrow underground or into manmade structures. Some brumating animals will burrow into the sand and mud at the bottom of ponds or lakes.
How Does Brumation Work?
Where hibernating animals store up fats to keep them warm and provide energy for the coming cold, Brumating animals store Glycogen. Glycogen is a complex form of glucose. Unlike hibernation fats, which slowly burn over time, ectotherms use glycogen to jumpstart their body if they need to move quickly. They will only do this if they feel threatened, or if they need to act in survival scenarios.
Unlike bears and other hibernating animals, snakes and other cold-blooded animals will eat less and less as winter gets closer. As temperatures continue to drop, the animal’s bodily functions will slow almost to a halt. The animal sleeps, but not as much as a hibernating animal. They may also move around their den but will do so incredibly slowly. On warmer days of the Winter, the ectotherm may emerge to sunbathe.
Snake Dens During the Winter
Snakes will generally create dens by burrowing underground, but they may use manmade structures for assistance. Overall, they just try to find a warm place where they think they won’t be bothered. They may burrow under a shed or under your house to keep hidden. Additionally, they may try to burrow and gain access to your basement or crawlspace. Snakes that can make their way up to your roof may try to gain access to your attic, if possible.
Snake Removal During the Winter
Snakes that are found in your home during the Winter can still be dangerous. During Brumation, the snake will move slowly, but can strike quickly if it feels threatened. If you find a snake in your home, you should call a professional and humane wildlife removal service to get rid of the snake. This is especially important in the Winter, as humane relocation can be vital to helping the snake survive throughout the colder months.