Now that we are winding down Rattlesnake Season 2022, here are some facts to help us understand what happens when snakes disappear for the cooler months.
Do rattlesnakes hibernate or brumate? Either reference explains their winter slumber, meaning they minimize movement, respiratory and pulmonary activities to conserve body fat and protect themselves from the elements. Colder temperatures trigger a suspended animation where they appear nonresponsive. They are not asleep!
Can a cold rattlesnake suddenly strike me? Highly unlikely in the winter! Relocating a snake in this condition is very tricky and has to be done with the utmost precision and professional diligence or the snake could fall prey to a predator or die if exposed to the elements.
Do they get hungry or thirsty? Yes. On any given day they can begin moving towards a water source or seek food if it is needed.
What is a rattlesnake den? Usually, 2 or more snakes constitute a den. They can occupy an old rodent hole, pack rat den or piece of plywood. A typical den may only have 2-3 snakes wintering together and lying on top of each other.
How long do the rattlesnakes hibernate? Depending on the temperatures, anywhere from November until mid March to early April in the high desert. Palm Springs is up to 15 degrees warmer so rattlesnakes may be active year-round.
What if I see a sleeping snake on my property? I cannot stress this point enough… Please leave it alone. It will never bother anyone unless you disturb it. If you are concerned for your family and pets, then call a kind, friendly professional rattlesnake wrangler. I teach a Professional Rattlesnake Relocation Class for those who wish to invest the time. Text me for details!
How do I learn more about Rattlesnake Behavior? Refer to Dr. Emily Taylor, UC Berkeley, on YouTube. She is a wildlife biologist with 20 years of rattlesnake behavior research. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZMU4cA4u9k&ab_channel=LosPadresForestAssociation