Snake Brumation

Snake Brumation is a real thing! Wild snakes can go through a process called brumation, which is similar to hibernation in other animals. It’s very important to note that your snake’s habitat should not be cold enough to let this happen. If you think that your snake is undergoing brumation then you need to raise the temperature and probably see a vet.

Brumation occurs during the winter months when temperatures and light levels drop. During this time, snakes become inactive and can enter a state of dormancy or torpor. This behavior helps snakes conserve energy and survive harsh winters. They are cold-blooded creatures and rely on outside sources of heat to regulate their body temperatures. 

During brumation, snakes will typically burrow into the ground, hide in crevices and other protected spaces, or curl up in a warm spot outside. They can become inactive for days or weeks at a time, but usually wake up during warmer periods when they can bask in the sun and search for food.

Snakes usually enter brumation in the fall and remain inactive until spring. During this time, they will slow their metabolism, stop eating, and become less active.

Snakes usually only brumate if temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). If temperatures are too cold for extended periods of time, snakes might not emerge from brumation until late spring or summer.

Symptoms of Snake Brumation

The symptoms of snake brumation vary depending on the species and can include:

Other signs can include a reluctance to move or interact with humans, as well as an overall decrease in activity. During brumation, snakes will usually remain hidden or stay in one location for extended periods of time.

Diagnosing Snake Brumation

To diagnose snake brumation, a veterinarian will perform a physical exam and administer a blood test to check for changes in the levels of the hormone cortisol. A radiograph or X-ray could be used to assess the animal’s health.

Stages of Snake Brumation

Snake brumation typically occurs in three stages.

Stage 1

The first stage is known as the pre-brumation or preparatory phase. During this time, snakes will begin to slow down their metabolism and activity levels, and they could stop eating altogether.

Stage 2

The second stage is known as the full brumation stage. At this point, the snake’s metabolism has slowed down significantly and the animal has entered a state of dormancy. They can remain in this stage for several weeks or even months, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

Stage 3

The final stage is known as the post-brumation stage. During this time, snakes will slowly start to become more active as temperatures and light levels rise. Eventually, they will resume normal activity levels and behaviors.

Treating Snake Brumation

Wild snake brumation is a natural process and typically does not require any medical intervention. If you think that your pet snake has entered brumation you should have them seen by a vet right away. Your pet’s enclosure should never be anywhere near a temperature that should cause brumation. If you see that the temperature is less than what it should be for your pet snake you’ll want to immediately raise the temperature back to the level your snake needs it to be.

Preventing Snake Brumation

Wild snake brumation is a natural process and cannot be completely prevented, but it can easily be prevented with pet snakes by keeping the temperature at the level your snake needs to live. If your primary heat source has malfunctioned and you see the temperature has dropped, then you should do whatever you can to raise or maintain the temperature your snake needs until the heat lamp, or other heat source can be fixed or replaced.