common frog

Info & advice

Snakes: behaviour

What should snakes be doing in winter?

Quick answer
Not much! Snakes hibernate over the winter though may emerge during milder weather.

Further information
During the winter snakes tuck themselves away to see out the cold weather. You may find them in compost heaps, within rockeries or under logs and other debris.

If the winter is quite mild you may still see snakes emerge occasionally, this is nothing to worry about.

What should snakes be doing in spring?

Quick answer
Emerging from hibernation and preparing to breed.

Further information
Snakes emerge from hibernation during the spring. Depending on local weather conditions this you could see them out and about as early as January (or even December), though they will return to hibernation habitats if the weather turns cold again.

This is a good time or year to spot snakes as they spend time basking in the spring sunshine.

Adders are often the first reptile to emerge; as they are still sluggish they are more easily aggravated in early spring and more care should be taken if you are visiting an area known to be inhabited by adders.

Snakes will mate in around April.


What should snakes be doing in summer?

Quick answer
Young snakes are ‘born’ during the summer whilst adults will be hiding away during the warmest weather.

Further information
During the summer grass snakes will lay their eggs in piles of decomposing vegetation (or even your compost heap). They will incubate here until they’re ready to hatch later in the season. Adders and Smooth Snakes both incubate their eggs internally and ‘give birth’ to live young in late summer or early autumn. Baby snakes look like miniature versions of the adults.

Adult snakes are more difficult to spot during the summer as the warm weather means they are active more quickly. During the hottest part of the day they will be sheltering somewhere cooler.


What should snakes be doing in autumn?

Quick answer
The last of the young are being born, followed by preparing for winter.

Further information
Depending on weather conditions and the time of mating young Grass Snakes could still be hatching from their compost heap nests and Adders and Smooth Snakes may still be preparing to give birth to their litter of young. Smooth Snakes tend to be the latest with their young being ‘born’ in around September.

Snakes will spend the rest of the season feeding up in preparation for winter and seeking out places to hibernate.

grass snake head
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