Authored by Kevin Stohlgren
As fall approaches and the weather cools, look out for snakes to be on the move.
If you’re a snake lover, this time of year is pretty exciting. That is because snake activity is starting to pick up and your chances of encountering one (or more) is higher, and there are a number of reasons why. The first is that the weather is cooling off. While many people probably think snakes love hot weather, the dog days of summer can actually damper activity or cause many species to switch to a nocturnal lifestyle. This means if you want to go out looking for snakes in the middle of summer, you probably have to stay up late into the night if you want to be successful. But as the weather begins to cool off, many species will switch back to being active during the day and can often be seen crossing roads in the morning or late afternoon.
Another reason for increased snake activity is that it is baby season for snakes. Some species give birth to live young while others lay eggs. Regardless of the method, this is the time of year (in the United States, anyway) that the babies start showing up. These newborn snakes will be dispersing from their birthing or hatching site and will be on the lookout for their first meals in preparation for winter. Unfortunately most snakes won’t survive their first year, so this is the best time to see these youngsters.
While most U.S. snake species breed in the spring, there are a few, like the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus), that will mate in the late summer or early fall. During this breeding season, females will make short movements to lay down pheromone trails that males can use to track them, and males will be making longer movements in order to find these reproductive females. With this increased activity, you might be lucky enough to spot one of these beautiful creatures.
And finally, as winter approaches snakes will start moving toward wherever they are going to be spending the winter. Overwintering sites can include rocky outcrops, rotted-out stumps and root holes, and Gopher Tortoise or mammal burrows.
While you are out enjoying the beautiful fall weather, watch the roads and trails, and be sure to send us photos of the snakes you encounter!