Did you think that snakes hibernate? You are half correct; snakes undergo an extremely similar process to hibernation; it’s called brumation. Learn more about snake brumation and how to take care of your scaly pet when it happens by reading this article.
Snake Hibernation Fact #1
Whilst some animals hibernate during cold seasons, such as hedgehogs and chipmunks, snakes do not. Instead, they experience brumation, which is an intense slowing down of their metabolism.
Whereas hibernation is a state of deep sleep in animals, brumation only puts snakes in a low-energy state that causes lethargy. Once brumation starts, snakes do not move around much to conserve their energy and maintain their body temperature.
Snake Hibernation Fact #2
A snake’s brumation period can start as early as September or as late as December and usually ends in March or April.
The period of brumation depends on the severity and duration of the winter season. But generally, snakes go into brumation when the temperature outside gets too cold, then come out of brumation when the temperature gets warmer.
Snakes that thrive in areas with higher geographical altitudes are also prone to prolonged brumation.
Snake Hibernation Fact #3
Snakes do not eat when they begin to brumate. Thus, it is extremely crucial for their bodies to store enough fat to keep moving until spring comes.
Once snakes sense the gradual dropping of temperature during the start of the cold season, they tend to increase their food intake to build up their body’s fat stores. If a snake does not eat enough food, it is at risk of dying during brumation.
Snake Hibernation Fact #4
Snakes start to search for ideal places where they can rest during the brumation period. So where do snakes brumate? They prefer areas located near sources of heat. Since snakes are cold-blooded animals, they depend on natural warmth to regulate their body temperatures.
In the wild, snake hibernation dens can be commonly found in hollow logs, caves, under piles of wood, holes under stumps and trees, and other animals’ burrows.
Snake Hibernation Fact #5
At what temperature do snakes start brumation? In general, snakes in colder climates start to brumate when the temperature hits 15°C or less, so they start to look for dens where they can rest. In springtime, when temperatures start to rise more than 15°C, snakes will come out of brumation.
Snake Hibernation Fact #6
Brumation is not necessary for every snake, so not all of them experience it. A snake’s environment and its natural habitat play a big role in triggering brumation. It means that snakes that live in cooler countries will brumate, while those found in tropical areas will not.
Pet snakes do not brumate too unless you fail to maintain their enclosure’s warm temperature during the cold season. Or it can also be caused by an intentional lowering of temperature to encourage brumation.
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5 Helpful Snake Hibernation Tips
Brumation can be deadly for snakes. When snakes brumate, they have a mortality rate of around one-third to one-half. Thus, as snake owners, paying attention to your scaly pet is highly important before and during its brumation. To help you, we have compiled a shortlist of useful tips.
Tip #1: Know the signs.
Be sure to keep a close eye on the signs that indicate that your snake is about to start brumating. The distinct hints you need to look out for are increased refusal to eat food and an increased amount of sleep.
Tip #2: Maintain the appropriate temperature.
If your snake is undergoing brumation, ensure to keep the snake den’s temperature at 5 to 10°C. Avoid letting the temperature drop below 5°C to prevent it from freezing to death. However, do not let the temperature go higher than 10°C since it will stop brumation from occurring.
Tip #3: Prepare your snake’s den.
Just before the cold season starts, clean your snake’s nest and box. Do not forget to replace and add more sand and soft bedding to its nest. Once brumation occurs, you can place straw, hay, plastic film, or electric lights inside its box to increase the temperature.
Tip #4: Keep a close watch on the humidity.
If the humidity in your snake’s nest gets too low, it will make the air dry and harmfully affect it. If it is too high, it can lead to the lowering of the temperature. Make sure that the humidity is maintained at 40 to 45%. Putting a basin of water inside the nest can help in adjusting the humidity.
Tip #5: Check on your snake.
For safety precautions, weigh your snake every couple of weeks during brumation. If it loses weight, it means your snake has lost water. Allow it to soak in room temperature water for about ten to fifteen minutes. Once it is done, you can put it back to its nest.
Avoid excessively checking your snake and refrain from flipping it. This is to minimise interference during its brumation as it can intervene in maintaining its body temperature.
One of the reasons why snakes go into brumation is to aid them in reproduction. Springtime is when snakes start to mate so that their babies are born before winter comes. Brumation is also a natural way of life for most snakes, so if you want your snake to be healthy, brumation is paramount.