It’s very rare to see active snakes in the wintertime. This is due to the cold blooded nature of these reptiles; their body temperature is the same as the surrounding environment. For this reason, once it starts getting cold, snakes begin looking for a place to hibernate. These shelters can be under downed tress or firewood piles, animal boroughs, rock crevices, caves, basements, or any place that is likely to stay frost free. Sometimes a large number of snakes will den up together in an area known as a “hibernaculum.” These hibernaculums are often found in remote rocky areas, and might contain a mixture of rattle snakes, copperheads, and black rat snakes denning together.
In Maryland, most snakes begin denning in October and emerge from the den in late March to mid April. A general rule of thumb is that snakes begin emerging right about the time that trees are breaking bud. Initially, the snake will move outside the den to sun itself, then retreat back into its cover. After the temperatures consistently stay above freezing, snakes will become more active and begin moving further and further away from the den in search of food or a mate. The snake might find itself far removed from the den in the summer, but as fall approaches they begin to move back to the denning area.
Article by FCFCDB
Nature Note for 2/4/2018