: : That was a perfect amount of
: information! Thanks for responding so
: promptly. I figured that they do go
: underground but now I know there is
: more to it than just burrowing a hole!
: And no worries about notifying anyone
: of den sites. I am a firm believer we
: are to live in harmony not fear.
: Thanks again.
: --Previous Message--
: --Previous Message--
: I live in far northeastern Tennessee
: (Greeneville) upon Bald Mountain which
: is 5 minutes from the AT trail and NC
: border. I have seen ringnecks and
: copperheads around my cabin. All of
: which I leave alone and let them be on
: their way. But I wondered if snakes
: hibernate during winter? I havent seen
: any of late. Thanks in advance for
: your response. By the way, great site
: and have enjoyed reading past posts.
: Hi, and thanks for the question. In our
: neck of the woods (I live not far from
: you, in Western NC) they do go in for
: the winter. Some call it hibernation,
: my Herpetology (study of Reptiles and
: Amphibians) called it "going
: torpid", and some call it
: Whatever you call it, they do indeed do
: it, and most begin to go to den sites
: (called in the literature
: "hibernaculae) in late September.
: Some, like the Garter, are the latest
: to go in and the earliest to go out;
: Garters have been seen crossing snow
: banks near Boone NC in late April
: (personal communication, Joseph
: Williams). I have seen Black Rat Snakes
: out in November, but by now, everybody
: is holed up in a cave, old Chipmunk
: burrow, a hole where tree roots have
: rotted after it died, or a rock pile,
: anywhere that is deep enough to be
: below the freeze line (around here
: about 1 foot), and their bodies will
: stay at about the ambient temperature
: of the den, and there they will stay
: until the air warms up in Spring.
: The picking of a good den site is
: critical, as they are
: "ectothermic" (what we
: wrongly call "cold blooded"),
: and their body temperature stays at the
: temperature of their surroundings
: unless they can get in the sun or on a
: warm rock and heat up their blood. When
: air temps get under about 45 degrees,
: all their systems go into slow motion,
: and below about 30 degrees, most will
: die(except for Wood Frogs, of course,
: who have anti-freeze iin their blood).
: The denning site will ideally have a
: constant temperature of around 45 to 50
: degrees, enough air flow to keep them
: oxygenated in their torpid state, and
: cool enough to keep their metabolism
: just ticking over; if it gets too warm
: too much, they can burn up all their
: fat reserves and die, essentiallly of
: There are some famous denning sites in
: some states that can have hundreds of
: snakes of many species in them, some
: which will eat other snakes, but nobody
: is in the mood to eat, so the prey
: species are safe - until Spring.
: There is a denning site of Garter
: Snakes in Canada which is famous for
: the number of Garters that go there,
: and for the breeding balls (the males
: ball up on the females) that occur each
: spring when the snakes emerge. It seems
: to be in the news every spring. The
: snakes tend to come into the high
: school basement to try to hibernate
: (too warm), so the school has built a
: denning site for them, and move them
: there when they end up in the basement.
: Sorry; hope this wasn't too much info.
: If you see a snake moving through in
: September or October, sometimes you can
: follow it and find the den; just don't
: tell anybody. Some of the folks around
: here will go to a snake den and kill
: every snake there...
: Thanks for writing, and thanks for not
: killing the snakes. Thank you very much
: for that!
Ah, I am glad to help.
Most snakes are unable to burrow, so use other folks' burrows. A couple of exceptions are the Hognose Snake, and maybe the Mole Kingsnake. The Hognose has a little upturned "pig snout" it uses to burrow.
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