Snakes are incredibly fascinating, cold-blooded creatures. While you may have seen one out on a walk, have you ever caught a glimpse of a snake slithering by you and wondered what they do during the day?Snakes LiveSnakes are incredibly fascinating, cold-blooded creatures. While you may have seen one out on a walk, have you ever caught a glimpse of a snake slithering by you and wondered what they do during the day?
Snakes are ectothermic, cold-blooded animals, meaning they have to use the external temperature to increase and maintain their internal temperature.
Like other reptiles, snakes can be seen during the day in warm spots under the sun like rock piles!
Snakes are found all over the world in almost every habitat, even including aquatic habitats. Let’s explore the slithery world of snakes and figure out where snakes really go and live during the day!
Where Snakes ACTUALLY Live During The Day
So, at one point or another, you have probably seen a snake somewhere, if not in the wild or as a pet, then most likely at a zoo.
Wherever you’ve seen one you may have noticed that it was a sunny day, if outside, or if at a zoo, then it was probably in a hot, enclosed area!
Snakes are found all over the world, in a variety of habitats. Whether it’s in the desert, forest, swamps, prairies, or mountains, you can be sure they’re around, somewhere hiding in the brush. When they aren’t actively looking for food during the day, you might see snakes basking in the sun to thermoregulate.
Not all snakes are diurnal, meaning they are up and active during the day, some snakes are nocturnal!
If snakes are diurnal, during the day they are usually searching for food or looking for a warm place to bask in the sun, before retreating to their home or burrowing. Keep reading and learn more about the diurnal and nocturnal species of snakes and where they like to hang out!
When Are Snakes The Most Active?
As we mentioned above, if snakes are diurnal, then they are out and active during the day. Nocturnal animals, on the other hand, are out and active at nighttime.
Many species of snakes range between diurnal and nocturnal depending on the time of year it is. In the hot summer months, some are nocturnal to avoid the heat of the day.
Diurnal Snake Species:
- Baird’s Rat Snake
- California Kingsnake
- Common Brown Snake
- Corn Snake
- Eastern Indigo
- Garter Snake
- Gopher Snake
- Western Hognose Snake
- Copperheads (During Spring & Fall)
- Black Tailed Rattlesnake (During Spring)
Nocturnal Snake Species
- Night Snake
- Eastern Rat Snake
- Copperheads (During Summer)
- Common Kingsnake (During Summer)
- Western Ground Snake
- Black Tailed Rattlesnake (During Fall)
- Glossy Snake
- Long-Nosed Snake
- Mojave Rattlesnake
- Ring-Neck Snake
During the cold winter months, snakes go into what is called brumation. Brumation is a semi-hibernation state where reptiles become kind of dormant.
During this state, reptiles don’t need to eat as much and they don’t move much at all. This is to conserve their body temperature. The brumation state usually lasts the winter months until spring hits.
When spring begins, the sun is out for longer periods, and the temperature begins warming up.
Yes, Snakes Go Out During The Day!
Depending on the type of behavior of individual snake species, some are out and active during the day, and some aren’t. The diurnal species we mentioned are the snakes that you are most likely going to see in the daytime.
Although the diurnal species are out during the day, they still avoid extremely hot and sunny places, especially when searching for food! This is why some snakes become nocturnal in the hot summers.
So, what do you do if you see a snake out during the day?
- Let the snakes be, don’t try to pick them up or harass them
- Maintain a six foot distance from the snake
- Stay on the trail
- Don’t climb on large piles of rocks and logs
- Wear proper gear including long pants, boots, and snake gaiters
All of these are good behaviors to utilize when hiking or camping, and if you encounter a wild animal. While the snake you encounter may not be venomous, you should treat each snake you find as it is.
Where Do Diurnal Snakes Live During The Day?
Snakes have a habit of staying out of the “public” eye, that is, in the wild. They tend to avoid open, sunny areas for hunting, unless basking. As you’ll see, most snakes prefer hidden areas in their preferred habitats.
Let’s find out more about where some of these snakes live. First, we’re going to cover our list of diurnal snakes, the snakes that are out and active during the day.
Baird’s Rat Snake
Baird’s rat snakes are keen on shrub areas, semi-arid areas, deserts, and anything rocky. They are typically found in crevices and caves.
This rat snake is found in western Texas into northern Mexico.
The California Kingsnake is found throughout California and along the coast from Oregon to Mexico.
These snakes prefer marshlands and grasslands rather than forest habitats. They get their name of “kingsnake” because they can be known to eat other snakes. Yikes!
Common Brown Snake (Storeria)
The common brown snake prefers moist soils in habitats like densely covered forests and marshlands but is also commonly found in cities. This shy snake is found in southern parts of Canada and into the eastern parts of the Rocky Mountains.
The common brown snake is commonly referred to as the North American brown snake, which is a harmless non-venomous snake. These snakes are commonly confused with copperheads, however, they lack the hourglass-shaped bands on their backs.
Corn snakes are commonly found along the east coast of the United States, ranging from New Jersey to Florida and even into Louisiana and Kentucky. However, they are mostly found in Florida and other warm southern states.
These snakes are found in wooded groves, overgrown fields, meadows, tropical forests, and abandoned structures. They are also found living under rocks, logs, and in palmetto flat woods.
Similar to the corn snake, the eastern indigo snake is found in pine flat woods and tropical forests, in cypress swamp areas. They are found throughout southern Florida and Georgia.
The eastern indigo can also be found in scrub-flat woods, prairies, freshwater marshes, and coastal areas. Throughout the year, the indigo snake moves throughout a wide range of habitats as the seasons change.
Garter snakes are commonly found throughout North America and survive in a variety of habitats. Although they prefer moist habitats, they are found in meadows, woodlands, and grassy environments.
Typically, they are found along water sources, along riverbanks, lakes, ponds, or near ditches.
Gopher snakes are commonly mistaken for rattlesnakes due to their coloring and defense mechanisms. However, the gopher snake is known to mimic rattlesnakes to keep predators away.
Gopher snakes can live in rocky areas, prairies, and even in woods, forests, and deserts, and prefer dense shrublands and thickets. They are found through southern Canada into northern Mexico, including a few midwestern states.
Coachwhip snakes are found in open pine forests, scrub habitats, dunes, fields, and prairies, however, they prefer sandy areas.
They are found throughout the southern US and even into central California. Although people believe that coachwhips are aggressive and will pursue you, it’s a myth!
Copperheads (During Spring & Fall)
The northern copperhead is found across the United States, and depending on the five copperhead subspecies, it can be found north, west, and south.
The creepy thing about these venomous snakes is that they are known to live in terrestrial and aquatic environments. They live in habitats that are along wetlands, in forests, and in rocky areas. As we mentioned before, the copperhead is diurnal during the cooler seasons, spring and fall, and nocturnal during the heat of the summer.
Black Tailed Rattlesnake (During Spring)
The black-tailed rattlesnake is found throughout the United States in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, and into Mexico. They prefer grasslands, deserts, and even high desert forests. They are even found in elevations up to 12,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains.
The black-tailed rattlesnake is a pit viper species and is typically docile and shy. What’s crazy is these rattlesnakes are not only good climbers, they are great swimmers.
If you want to learn more cool facts about snakes, check out this article on 2 Smells That Snakes Hate (And How To Use Them)!
Where Do Nocturnal Snakes Live During The Day?
Now that we’ve covered the diurnal species, let’s jump into the nocturnal species.
Eastern Rat Snake
The eastern rat snake is usually found in the eastern United States to the Midwest United States. They prefer habitats of fields, woodlands, and farms. When threatened, they emit an odor to deter predators.
Because this snake has a wide range of food, they are great at climbing and swimming. The eastern rat snake was formerly known as the black rat snake due to its back of black scales.
Western Ground Snake
The western ground snake is a non-venomous species found throughout the southwestern United States. These snakes are most noted for their striking orange and black banding, but can also have orange and brown striping.
The western ground snake prefers areas that are typical of the Rocky Mountains, including grasslands, shrublands, and deserts which are dry, and rocky with sandy soil.
Glossy snakes are another snake found in the southwestern United States. They are found in California to Kansas, down to Texas and Mexico.
These snakes prefer semi-arid regions, shrublands, coastal areas, deserts, chaparral, and forests. Because they are found in such a large region they can survive in tropical, arid, and temperate climates.
After what we’ve learned about snakes and hot, sunny climates, it makes sense that the long-nosed snake is nocturnal. It is found in dry prairies and desert areas where they can burrow.
The long-nosed snake is found in the southwestern United States in California, ranging to Kansas, down to Texas, and into Mexico.
The Mojave rattlesnake is considered to have one of the most potent venoms. They are commonly known for their green hue and are typically referred to as Mojave greens.
This rattlesnake is found in the southwestern United States in desert areas. They prefer open, arid, and desert habitats, with xeric vegetation including areas with cacti and within lowland areas such as Joshua Tree.
Ring-neck snakes are found throughout two-thirds of the United States in varying habitats and climates. There are several subspecies of the ring-neck species, found in Canada, all the way to Florida, and even into the southwestern United States, and back up along the Pacific coast.
They are considered a woodland snake, and live in almost all habitats but prefer wooded, moist, hardwood areas along the edges of wetlands. They are a beautiful dark gray to black color with a yellow and orange underside and a light-colored ring around their neck.
If you want to learn how to keep snakes out of your yard, we’ve got the perfect article for you, 7 Things That Attract Snakes To Your Yard + How To Fix Them!
A Quick Recap!
So, did you learn something new about where snakes really go and live during the day?
Well, let’s recap everything we learned about where both diurnal and nocturnal snakes go and live during the day!
All snakes are ectothermic, meaning they have to use the external temperature to maintain their internal body temperature. For diurnal species of snakes that aren’t actively hunting during the day, you might see them basking in the sun to regulate their body temperature. This is called thermoregulation.
Because snakes are ectotherms or cold-blooded animals, this means they need the sun and the heat from the sun and other objects to increase and maintain their body temperature. So if you have ever had a reptile as a pet or have seen them in the wild, you know that they can be seen basking under a heat lamp or in the sun.
Not all snakes are diurnal, or active during the daytime, some snakes are nocturnal! Diurnal snake species, however, during the day are usually hunting or looking for a warm place to bask in the sun, before retreating to their home or burrowing.
Although snakes don’t go into true hibernation, they do go into what is called brumation during the cold winter months. Brumation is a semi-hibernation state where reptiles become kind of dormant.
This state may appear odd, and reptiles don’t need to eat as much as they normally would. Additionally, they don’t move much to conserve their body temperature. This state usually lasts the winter months until spring hits, the sun comes out for longer periods, and when temperatures warm up.
Thanks for sticking around and learning about different species of snakes with us and exactly where snakes go and live during the day!
Snakes are fascinating creatures, and most are shy and would rather slither away, but always be on the lookout and be safe!
Blouin‐Demers, G., & Weatherhead, P. J. (2001). An experimental test of the link between foraging, habitat selection and thermoregulation in black rat snakes Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta. Journal of animal Ecology, 70(6), 1006-1013.
Row, Jeffrey R., and Gabriel Blouin-Demers. “Thermal quality influences effectiveness of thermoregulation, habitat use, and behaviour in milk snakes.” Oecologia 148.1 (2006): 1-11.
Seebacher, F., & Shine, R. (2004). Evaluating thermoregulation in reptiles: the fallacy of the inappropriately applied method. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 77(4), 688-695.
Webb, J. K., & Shine, R. (1998). Thermoregulation by a nocturnal elapid snake (Hoplocephalus bungaroides) in southeastern Australia. Physiological Zoology, 71(6), 680-692.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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