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The fall snake migration has started here!

Posted by wayne_mo (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 6, 06 at 15:55

I went out Monday night to see if the first wave of migrating snakes had started. All was quiet except a gorgeous large adult Red Milk Snake under a rock. No migrants yet.

I went out again on Tuesday night and found 3 migrating juvenile Black Rat Snakes, including two that were about ten feet apart, and a migrating ringneck snake.

It is only the opening trickle of what will eventually become a much faster stream but after a long hot summer where snakes were few and far between, it is a welcome sight to see the front wave of the migration.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: The fall snake migration has started here!

Wayne- over the years reading your posts, I have learned alot. But I need to learn more- what do you mean by migration? I am embarrassed to ask. Is it when the snakes go into their burrows for the winter?

RE: The fall snake migration has started here!

Thank you for asking.

In the fall it is when the snakes begin traveling back to their winter dens from parts far away (and in the spring, of course, it is when the snakes leave their dens and begin traveling to parts far away).

Snakes overwinter in the same den year after year and some of them will travel several miles in the fall to return to their dens.

Migrations mostly happen in central states like Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, and Kentucky and places farther north where snakes spend their winters in large communal dens in bluff. Farther south snakes can den almost anywhere (a stump, a rodent hole, etc.) and thus they don't den in large concentrations.

In some places if you are between a denning bluff on one side and good habitat on the other you can walk along and actually see the snakes migrating. The snakes will all be coming from the flats and heading to the bluffs and all will be on the move in the same direction.

On a good day during peak migration you might see as many as 50 to 60 different snakes in a three hour walk. On a more typical day during the peak migration you might see from 12 to 25 snakes in three hours. At the early and late ends of the migration (which lasts for about 2 months) you might see just 4 or 5 snakes.

It's really a neat thing to observe!

RE: The fall snake migration has started here!

Wayne...does this hold true in southern states as well even tho we don't have cold winters?

RE: The fall snake migration has started here!


Visible snake migrations tend not to happen in Southern states because snakes there can den almost anywhere (a tree stump, a rodent burrow) and thus there are no denning concentrations to move to en masse.

The snakes themselves probably still move to and from where they den in spring and fall but since they are going to all different 1 or 2 snake stumps or burrows distributed everywhere across their habitat, instead of to a 1000 snake denning bluff which is the only one around for miles there is no real way to find an observable migration down south as can be found farther north where cold winters require a certain kind of bluff den with deep crevices housing multiple snakes that is in short supply.

RE: The fall snake migration has started here!

Ooops just remembered I had posted a question so I picked up your reply, Wayne, today. I cannot imagine joy of seeing 50+ snakes in 3 hrs!! Here outside of Denver where nights warm at most into 60's even in summer, would you guess that snakes seldom venture far from their dens? I sure don't see many ever. Thanks for your explanation of migration too!

RE: The fall snake migration has started here!

Hi Matoad,

Thanks for the reply! Yeah, it is a real joy to see 50 plus snakes in three hours. I'm hoping for that kind of day next weekend when I walk Snake Road which is the only road in North America actually closed every fall and spring for migrating snakes!

RE: The fall snake migration has started here!

Thanks Wayne!
I was curious because I haven't seen any snakes in my yard for about the past 2 months or so.
I know though, that just because I'm not seeing them, it doesn't mean they're not here...LOL
The house catty-corner to mine was torn down a couple of months ago, leaving foot-high grass and no construction yet. I'm guessing they may be over there's probably an abundant food source.

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