Surviving the Cold: What Do Snakes Eat in Winter

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Many animals go into brumation or migrate to hotter areas to find food as winter sets. But what about snakes? These scaly animals are well-known for their unusual diets, but do they still eat food during the winter? If yes, What do snakes eat in winter?

Snakes eat different things in winter depending on their species, where they live, and the weather. However, in winter, many snakes minimize their food intake or stop eating completely. This is because their metabolism slows down when it gets colder, making them need less food.

In this article, we’ll look at the exciting world of snake diets during winter, and we’ll find out how snakes make it through the winter, from what they like to eat to how they eat.

How Do Snakes Adapt To Winter?

Snakes are cold-blooded and need external heat to maintain their body temperature. In winter, right before snakes go into brumation, their bodies slow down. Their entire digestive system is affected. Snakes need help digest food, so they eat a lot of fat before winter. As winter approaches, there is a big drop in metabolic activity. Snakes only need a little food and can go for long periods of time without eating.

Snakes will hide in burrows, under rocks, and other safe places to get away from the harsh winter weather. Some snakes may even sleep underground, where the temperature is more stable, during the winter. And some snakes change the way they act when the temperature changes.

Do Snakes Stop Eating In Winter?

According to Curr Zool. the answer is location-dependent and species-specific. During the winter, most snakes don’t brumate and completely cease feeding, but they may be less active and eat less frequently. In colder climates, garter snakes and timber rattlesnakes brumate throughout the winter. They won’t eat until warmer weather returns, living off stored fat.

Since tropical and subtropical countries rarely see severe temperature drops during the winter, snakes that live in these places may continue feeding throughout the year. This means that in colder weather, their metabolism slows, and they may eat less frequently or not at all, as they do not need as much energy to function.

What Do Snakes Eat Before Winter?

Snakes Eat Before Winter

According to Sci Rep. in the winter, snakes don’t eat. Instead, these carnivorous reptiles feast on mice, frogs, toads, insects, eggs, and worms in the fall. Snakes chew their food and then swallow it whole. They can eat animals bigger than themselves because their jaws can grow.

Due to their low body temperatures, snakes cannot metabolize and digest food during the winter. Colder temperatures reduce their metabolism, so they utilize less energy.  When snakes that go into brumation in the winter wake up in the spring, they will return to eating the things they usually eat.

How Often Do Snakes Eat In Winter?

Many factors affect how often snakes eat throughout the winter, including snake species, snake size, and prey abundance.

During the colder months, a snake’s metabolism slows down and it doesn’t need as much food to stay alive. During the colder months, some snakes may not feed, while others may only eat once every several weeks.

Some snakes remain dormant or stop feeding throughout the winter. Several animals will brumate at this time and won’t feed again until spring.

Do Snakes Hibernate In The Winter?

Snakes don’t hibernate; instead, they brumate in the winter. Snakes are cold blood and don’t hibernate, unlike what animals with warm blood do.

When temperatures drop in the winter, some snake species hibernate or slow their activity. This is a way for them to save energy and stay alive in harsh winter conditions.

Snakes don’t eat less when the temperature drops. Rather, they stop eating, their metabolism slows down, and they look for a place underground to hide when the temperature changes on the surface.


Wintertime is brumation time for snakes in colder areas. But snakes in warmer areas may still be active during the winter and will continue to hunt and eat as usual. Depending on their species and habitat, snakes eat rodents, birds, insects, and other small creatures. Some bigger snake species may also eat rabbits, deer, and other snakes.

Snakes are important to the ecosystem because they eat and hunt other animals. Snakes are an important part of nature and should be respected and kept safe, even if some people are afraid or don’t like them.


Snakes can survive without food for about two months on average; however, wild snakes can survive for months or even weeks without any source of fresh water at all. Snakes that are kept in captivity shouldn’t have their water intake limited for more than a week at a time.

Snakes’ metabolisms increase when they wake from hibernation, leading them to begin the food search. After waking from hibernation, snakes typically feed on small mammals, birds, and insects, however, this varies by species and environment. In warmer months, snakes may have more prey and be more active. Snakes control smaller animal populations, keeping ecosystem equilibrium as predators.

In winter, non-hibernating snakes eat as usual. The species, environment, and prey availability will impact a snake’s winter diet. Snakes in warmer climates may hunt rodents, birds, and insects year-round. In colder climates, snakes can hunt small mammals like active mice year-round.

Several things can help snakes survive winter. Protecting their habitats and avoiding destructive activity is crucial. Avoid disturbing hibernating snakes. Snakes can hibernate in artificial logs or rock piles. Avoid insecticides that kill snake food. Snake conservation and eliminating negative perceptions require education. Sharing knowledge and hosting educational activities can help snakes survive winter.


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Lourenço-de-Moraes R, Lansac-Toha FM, Schwind LTF, Arrieira RL, Rosa RR, Terribile LC, Lemes P, Fernando Rangel T, Diniz-Filho JAF, Bastos RP, Bailly D. Climate change will decrease the range size of snake species under negligible protection in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest hotspot. Sci Rep. 2019 Jun 12;9(1):8523. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-44732-z. PMID: 31189933; PMCID: PMC6561978.