Snakes are reptiles and that means they’re cold-blooded. They need the sun for warmth. When temperatures drop, they’ve got to find shelter – fast. But they don’t hibernate like bears. Instead, they bromate.

Fun Facts

  • Animals that hibernate go into a deep sleep in the winter and typically don’t wake up until spring. Snakes bromate, which means they go into a sleep when temperatures drop and they wake up when temperatures rise.
  • Snakes do come out during the winter if the temperature rises. They go back to sleep when the temperature drops again.
  • Snakes burrow deep into the ground where it’s cool, but not cold.
  • In milder climates, they sometimes hide in wood piles or rotting logs.
  • Some snakes, such as garter snakes, lay their eggs in holes in the ground. When spring comes, hundreds of tiny snakes emerge from these holes.
  • Be careful when you’re getting wood from the woodpile or walking through natural areas in the winter. It’s still possible to encounter a venomous snake, especially during mild weather.


  1. Bromate: when reptiles go to sleep in response to cold temperatures
  2. Venomous: an animal that makes venom, a type of poison

Questions and Answers

Question: Are snakes slower during the winter?

Answer: A snake that is coming out of brumation might be a little slower until it warms up.

Learn More

Watch a National Geographic video about thousands of snakes emerging in the spring in Canada.

smallest-snake image
Some snakes are smaller than a pencil.