Our team at our Houston animal control location often gets asked about snakes in the winter. Houston has quite a few species of snakes, some of which can be dangerous. Understandably, people want to know what is happening with cold-blooded snakes in the winter. Are they still around? Are they active? Can they still be dangerous?
Snakes are like humans in some ways; they don’t like the winter. These are a few things that they dislike:
- It’s cold. Snakes are cold-blooded, so they like the air to help keep them warm.
- There are fewer days with warm sunlight in which to bask.
- There are fewer animals out and about. Snakes need to eat!
What Do Snakes Do To Survive the Winter?
In general, snakes hibernate to ensure that they live to see the spring. This is a type of voluntary, very deep sleep. Despite what you may have been told, hibernators don’t always sleep through the winter. In fact, they may hibernate for a few days at a time.
During hibernation, snakes’ heart rates and metabolic rates drop. They are cold-blooded, so their temperature matches the outside temperature. Since they can’t warm themselves, they need to hibernate to ensure the lower temperatures don’t harm them. They will try to find somewhere warm and safe to sleep during the winter.
Now, you may be wondering why snakes around Houston would need to hibernate. The short answer is that they don’t, at least not always. Since hibernation is voluntary and can be for short periods, they only do it when they feel that they need to. If the temperatures remain sufficiently high, they won’t hibernate.
They will also wake up and become active again if the sun comes out and the temperatures rise. They may then head back to their dens once it starts to cool again.
Can Snakes Be Dangerous in the Winter?
Yes, snakes have the potential to bite whenever they are active. These are some of the most common types of snakes in Texas:
- Coral snake
- Broadband copperhead
- Pygmy rattlesnake
- Southern copperhead
- Timber rattlesnake
- Western cottonmouth
- Western diamondback
All these snakes are venomous (although not all Texan snakes are). The coral snake is particularly dangerous when it bites.
However, snakes typically prefer to avoid humans rather than bite. If one does attack, it is almost always because the snake feels threatened. This can happen when you stumble across its den or corner it.
This can make the winter a surprisingly dangerous time for snake bites. The snakes are relatively inactive if the weather is cold. However, if they wake up from hibernation, they may find themselves near humans, which could cause aggressive behavior. The same can happen if they are trying to return to a den after activity.
Be careful around riverbanks and rocky areas during if the weather turns warm after having been cold. It is always unlikely to be bitten by a snake. Nonetheless, using caution to avoid threatening them is always smart.
What Should You Do About Snakes in Your Home?
Snakes sometimes occupy attics, basement, HVAC systems and other places where they can stay warm and safe. Unfortunately, this can mean finding an unwanted visitor during the winter.
Whatever you do, do not try to remove snakes yourself. As mentioned, they can become aggressive if disturbed in the winter. Instead, call Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control. We have a Houston animal control center and will be happy to come and help. We are experts at humanely removing wildlife and ensuring that they don’t return. Call us at 281-203-0062 to set up an appointment.