With snakes beginning to move around due to the increased temperatures many people ask me questions regarding snake hibernation and are astonished when I explain that snakes don’t actually hibernate.
Hibernation refers to the way warm-blooded animals over-winter by slowing their physiological processes, entering an unconscious state and burning fat reserves to maintain organs and regulate their temperatures. Conversely, snakes being cold-bloodied are not able to regulate their own temperatures and enter the reptilian answer to hibernation – a state known as brumation.
So how does brumation work?
Leading into the colder months snakes will increase their feeding to gain conditioning before finding a suitable ‘hibernaculum’ in which to enter brumation. During brumation, much like mammals in hibernation, snakes will slow their physiological processes but differ in that they remain in a conscious alert state and may still require water or bask opportunistically. Depending on the geographic location and species of snake brumation can last for as little as a few weeks or for more than 6 or 7 months. In tropical climates brumation in some species causes little more than a reduction in activity or feeding although there is debate over wether this constitutes true brumation.
In most snakes the end of brumation marks the begining of the breeding season so many breeders encourage brumation to increase fertility and with it their chance of success.
Thanks for reading!