Seeing a snake during the day may make you a bit squeamish, but seeing them at night… no thanks! Most snakes are harmless and are probably doing more good than anything for your yard. However, knowing they’re around at night can be unsettling.
Snakes are active both at night and during the day, depending on the species. During the night, snakes can be found in abandoned burrows, holes from other animals, inside hollow logs, beneath rocks, within leaves and debris, in shrubs and tall grass, and under items around your yard.
Read on to learn where snakes go at night, why they go there, and how you can spot them in the dark!
Snakes Are Ectotherms: How This Impacts Their Nighttime Habits
Temperature and moisture are the two biggest environmental factors driving where snakes go and when.
While moisture can be a driving factor for snakes that will hide out during the day to avoid drying out, temperature is more likely to impact where snakes will go at night when they are trying to stay warm.
Snakes are ectotherms, unlike mammals, meaning they do not generate their own body heat. The temperature in their bodies is regulated by the temperature of their habitat. This is why they will often seek out warmth from things like the sun or cooler temperatures by seeking out shade.
Depending on where you live, when nights are cooler, snakes tend to seek out a place that will not only provide protection, but also provide warmth.
Snakes will actually go into a type of hibernation when it gets really cold in winter, which we will discuss later in this article!
Do Snakes Even Sleep?
That’s a really good question! According to the University of Arizona, there is some debate about whether or not snakes really sleep.
Snakes don’t sleep like us. We are pretty defenseless and have characteristic changes in brain waves depending on how deeply we are sleeping. Snakes just shut down their system and conserve energy in a resting state.
It would also be difficult to tell that snakes are asleep since they don’t have eyelids!
8 Most Common Places Snakes Go At Night
There are all kinds of places snakes will go at night. Where they go depends on what shelter is available in their habitat, nighttime temperatures, and if they are nocturnal or diurnal.
According to Utah State University, some snake species prefer to spend the night alone while others will gather in large numbers when seeking warmth and shelter at night!
Let’s talk about 8 places snakes go at night and why they go there.
Snakes Use Burrows And Holes Made By Other Animals
Since the main priority for snakes at night is protection, a burrow or hole in the ground provides great protection. Most often, a snake will inhabit a burrow that has been made and abandoned by another reptile or mammal.
You’ll often spot burrows along stream banks, in forests, or in ditches. Since the ground holds heat from the day, a burrow provides both shelter and warmth for snakes at night.
Some snakes will also find burrows they want to shelter in which haven’t been abandoned. They will still use these burrows after eating the former inhabitant and claiming the shelter for their own.
Some snakes are a little more particular about which burrows they prefer to inhabit at night.
According to Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi), the second longest snake in North America, has evolved to use the burrows of the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) to survive winter. They also use them for shelter at night and to lay their eggs.
Another group of snakes, the hog-nose snakes, have an upturned nose that can act as a shovel in sandy soils. This allows them to dig their own hole to take shelter in at night.
Snakes Hide In Hollowed-Out Trees
Hollowed-out trees are another place snakes will seek out at night. As trees decompose they produce some heat from the process of the wood-decaying. Larger logs will also hold some of the heat from the day providing even more warmth.
As some trees decay, they become hollow on the inside, providing the perfect shelter for snakes to curl up in for the night.
Snakes will also seek shelter in upright trees which have been partially hollowed out. These hollows can be created by natural damage or from other animals like woodpeckers which create hollows for nesting.
Snakes Will Go Under Logs
Fallen trees that aren’t hollowed out can still provide a place for snakes to go at night. They will still offer the two basic requirements for snakes at night, protective shelter and warmth.
Snakes will happily wiggle their way underneath a log to stay warm and protected throughout the night. Luckily, finding one in this spot doesn’t always mean you’ll find another snake.
Snakes Will Hide Under Rocks
In mountainous or rocky terrain, where vegetation can sometimes be scarce, rocks provide a great place for snakes to go at night.
Just like burrows and logs, rocks tend to be warmer than the nighttime air due to how much they heat up from the sun during the day.
Snakes will get into cracks and crevices in rocks, some seeking out shelter several feet below the surface for safety and warmth. They will also utilize caves as nighttime resting places.
According to an awesome Q&A published by the University of Arizona – some species, like the Western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox), will gather together in groups of 10 to 20 snakes in a den. Even more extreme are prairie rattlesnakes which have found in groups of more than 600 snakes!
Snakes Can Be Found Under Leaves And Debris
The leaves, branches, and twigs that cover the forest floor provide another great place for snakes to spend the night. Just like logs, the debris covering the forest floor holds heat from the day and also produces some heat as it decays.
Some snakes will burrow down into the leaf litter to hide out from predators and to stay warm all night long.
Snakes Hide In Shrubs And Tall Grass
Snakes will also spend the night in thick shrubs or tall thick grass at night.
These areas can often be the only options in places where prairies and grasslands are the primary habitats available.
Shrubs and tall thick grass will still be warmer than being out in the open for these snakes. They also provide snakes with some shelter from being spotted by would-be predators while they rest at night.
If you’re worried about snakes in your yard, I highly recommend taking a look at our piece on the smells snakes hate and how to use them. It reviews some of the only well-researched snake repellents.
Snakes Can Be Found Among Items Around Your Yard
There are all kinds of items we keep around our houses that are similar to the natural shelters snakes are looking for to spend the night in.
You can limit snakes taking shelter in your yard at night by trying to eliminate as many of these items from around your home as possible.
Just like in their natural habitats, snakes may shelter at night in your shrubs, long grass, piles of lawn clippings, fallen leaves, and rockscapes.
Snakes will also take shelter in and around items in your yard that aren’t natural features but still provide the warmth and shelter they are looking for at night. Garden hose boxes, flower pots, toys, playhouses, sheds, and stairs are all places snakes may go at night in your yard.
You can read more about what attracts snakes to your yard in our in-depth guide!
Some Snakes Spend The Night Searching For Food
As we mentioned above, some snakes are nocturnal and are mostly active at night. Nocturnal snakes will be out hunting at night, searching for water, or just checking out their territory.
People will sometimes spot nocturnal snakes crossing roads at night. They may also be spotted out and about around your yard looking for a midnight snack!
You may even find them hanging out on your driveway soaking up some of the lingering heat from the concrete.
If you have rodent issues, this could be one of the primary reasons why snakes aren’t leaving your yard.
How To Spot Snakes At Night
If you’re outside at night, you should always be aware of wildlife you may encounter. The best tools for spotting snakes at night are being aware of where they go and having a bright flashlight while being extremely mindful not to get to close to any snakes you’re looking for. Ultimately, you should wait until day!
We like this Adjustable LE LED High Lumens Flashlight because it’s small, very bright, and water-resistant if you need to look for snakes during the nighttime!
Keep in mind that rain can make some snake species more active and increase the chances of snakes moving around at night.
If you spot a snake at night you should leave it alone! It can be tricky to know what species the snake is and if it might be venomous.
Where Do Snakes Go At Night During Winter?
Depending on the species and where you live, snakes will actually hibernate during the winter. When a snake hibernates, it is called brumation.
Like mammals that hibernate, snakes will try to fatten themselves up before brumation but the energy is stored as sugar (glycogen) rather than fat. Then they find a burrow, hollow log, or any of the other places they typically go at night, and hunker down for the winter.
You can likely find snakes during winter in the same places you find them hiding at night during the rest of the year.
The University of Texas notes that another difference between hibernation and brumation is that brumating animals will come out of their hiding place sometimes. For instance, if there is a milder day a snake may come out to warm up for a little while before going back into hiding.
Animals that brumate also still need to hydrate so they will come out, when needed, to find a drink of water.
If you want to learn more about where snakes go during winter, check out our guide on the 7 places snakes go during winter (and when they return).
That’s A Wrap!
Snakes will utilize all sorts of places at night to find protection and warmth. While they don’t sleep like we do, they still like to rest.
You can find them in trees, rocks, tall grass, and just about any place that will give them shelter. There are even some species of snakes that will be active and search for food at night.
Where you will find snakes at night depends on what species live in your area and the habitats that are available nearby.
Remember, most snakes are not bad! Now that you know where you’re likely to find them at night, you can make sure to keep a safe distance and avoid disturbing them.
Holden, K.G., Gangloff, E.J., Gomez-Mancillas, E., Hagerty, K. and Bronikowski, A.M., 2021. Surviving winter: Physiological regulation of energy balance in a temperate ectotherm entering and exiting brumation. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 307, p.113758.
Reinert, H.K., 1984. Habitat variation within sympatric snake populations. Ecology, 65(5), pp.1673-1682.
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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