snakes

What do snakes do in the winter?

I didn’t think about snakes at all when I lived in Alaska, but here in Colorado they cross my mind from time to time. Following up on my previous article, Can snakes see?, here’s some information on what snakes do in the winter, from snakeprotection.com:

“Snakes do not actually hibernate, rather they become less active during cold weather. It is called ‘brumation.’ Brumation is an extreme slowing down of their metabolism. Snakes are awake, but just very lethargic so you don’t see them moving around. In the fall, snakes move back to the previous year’s den. If a sudden cold snap catches them before they get there, they may die if not fortunate enough to find a suitable secondary den. A number of species may share the same den. For example, black rat snakes, timber rattlesnakes, and copperheads commonly den together. Sometimes there will be as many as 100 snakes in one cave. A group site is called a hibernaculum.”

Can snakes see?

I’ve seen five rattlesnakes since I moved to Colorado, four dead and one that was quite upset with me. As I was walking yesterday I wondered, can snakes see? Here’s an answer from animals.howstuffworks.com.

LiveScience.com adds this information: “With the exception of a few species that have adapted to daytime hunting, most snakes do not see well. Generally they can see shapes but not details. Snakes called pit vipers can see well at night by an amazing trick. Their pits (one on each side of the head) sense heat (infrared light) like night vision goggles. These pits, not eyes, actually are thought to render images of prey in the snakes’ brains.”