What You Should Know About Deterring Snakes In The Winter

While snakes play a role in safeguarding your garden and home from pests, the notion of these creepy-crawlies slithering around your property is often unsettling. 

Campers and homeowners have long utilized fire pits to keep snakes at bay. As colder weather sets in, staying warm and cozy by the fire becomes appealing. The knowledge that snakes are generally repelled by fire — the odor of smoke, to be specific — might bring some added reassurance. Given the acute sense of smell that snakes possess, strong scents often keep the serpents out of your yard, and that definitely goes for smoke. This is confirmed by snake expert Jennifer Mecham, who shared with Yahoo! Life that, "Smoke is another excellent snake-repelling scent, and any strong smell of it will keep snakes away."

While lighting up a campfire can be a foolproof way to keep snakes from slithering around, this approach may lose its effectiveness in winter. During the colder season, fire might instead attract snakes seeking shelter and warmth, potentially bringing them closer to human dwellings in their quest for a cozy habitat.

Why snakes might get attracted to smoke and fire

Snakes are ectothermic or cold-blooded animals. This means they can't generate their own body heat and get their temperature from their surroundings. This also means that it could be a struggle for them to survive cold environments since a rapid drop in temperature can lead to a life-threatening drop in their own temperatures.

To endure winter conditions, snakes enter a state known as brumation. J. D. Kleopfer, a state herpetologist with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, explained to Fox Weather that brumation is akin to a deep sleep that snakes experience during the colder months. In preparation for this period, they cease eating as winter approaches, and their heart and respiratory rates gradually decrease.

During brumation, snakes seek shelter below the frost line in the soil, a depth at which they are protected from freezing temperatures. Their hiding spots vary, including rocky crevices, beneath tree stumps, or under a pile of leaves. Occasionally, snakes may also venture into human environments, finding refuge in places like car engines or inside footwear.

How to deal with snakes in the winter

If you're worried that snakes might be lurking underneath your home, J. D. Kleopfer gave Fox Weather the reassurance that "They're not going to bother you, they're not going to chase you, and if you go your way, they'll go their way." However, if coexisting with these reptiles isn't an option for you, seeking the services of a reputable snake remover is a practical solution to remove the snake from your home safely. He further cautions against using snake repellents, saying those do not work.

To proactively prevent snakes from entering your home, it's essential to seal any gaps or openings that could provide them access, including gaps under doors. Put a mesh or wire covering on open ventilation pipes to prevent snakes from slithering through. Additionally, keeping your surroundings tidy by clearing away junk, wood piles, or any other debris where snakes might find shelter can significantly reduce the likelihood of them taking up residence near your living spaces.