Rattlesnakes do not hibernate during winter. However, they become much less active while in a state known as brumation.
Do Rattlesnakes Hibernate?
With lifespans lasting upwards of twenty years, rattlesnakes quickly learn how to survive in the cold. This can be difficult because their cold-blooded bodies keep them at the same temperature as their surroundings. Rattlesnakes do not hibernate during winter. However, they become much less active while in a state known as brumation.
The main difference between hibernation and brumation is that when a mammal nears its time to hibernate, it eats more to gain enough fat to sustain it through its winter’s sleep. Snakes nearing brumation eat less because they do not want food in their system during brumation. During a snake’s brumation period, they are lethargic but not totally asleep. They will rouse to find the water they need to survive and will sometimes even be found sitting on a warm rock in the sun on a warmish day in January!
During brumation, rattlesnakes lower their metabolic rates by nearly 70 percent, allowing them to live for months with little or no food. On warmer days, a rattlesnake in winter will bask in the open and soak up as much sun as possible. It will also hunt for small rodents that may serve as a much-needed meal.
When Do Rattlesnakes Enter Burmation?
Rattlesnakes generally enter burmation when the temperature is consistentlly under 60° Fahrenheit (15° Celsius). If you live in a warmer climate like Miami, Baton Rogue, Phoenix, or Los Angeles, rattlesnakes might stay active all year round.
Where Do Rattlesnakes Hibernate?
In warm weather, the pests hide near homes among rocks and thick brush. When temperatures drop, rattlesnakes avoid sub-zero conditions and find safe havens below the ground.
Rattlesnakes in the winter take refuge in animal dens and may curl up under a porch or shed to find warmth. The pests return to the same denning sites year after year, which can create conflicts with humans or other animals in the area.
A female rattlesnake reproduces every two or three years and has about 24 babies in each litter. Because of their birth rate and denning instincts, rattlesnakes around the home can become an urgent issue. Also, rattlesnakes on your property or in your house can be a sign of a rodent infestation. Concerned property owners should contact Critter Control for expert rattlesnake removal and rodent control.