Around half of the people around the world are anxious about snakes and 2-3% of people can be classed as having a snake phobia. For these people, keeping away from snakes is a priority, which in some parts of Australia means not visiting their habitats when they know snakes are going to be active. For most, this is night-time, but the answer might not be that simple. So we ask the question, are snakes nocturnal animals?
Are All Snakes Nocturnal?
Unfortunately, it isn’t the case as to whether snakes are nocturnal (night-time) or diurnal (day-time). Seeing snakes active at night is not uncommon but nor is it uncommon to see a snake basking in the hot sun.
While most people think this is species-specific, there are some species that will adapt their activity period based on the time of the year. One species that does this is the Common Keelback (Tropidonophis mairii). During cooler months they will be active during the day and then at hotter periods of the year, they will be active at night.
Other species of snakes are considered to be neither diurnal or nocturnal. These are crepuscular, or those that are active at dawn and dusk, but rest at other periods.
What Determines a Snake’s Activity Period?
Snakes will choose what time to be most active based on several factors. One is going to be the environmental factors such as heat. Some snakes require little warming from the sun and can get enough from the rocks or ground that slowly release energy throughout the night that it has soaked up during the day. Therefore, these snakes tend to be either crepuscular or nocturnal. There are others though that require direct sunlight to warm themselves up.
Then there is the fear of predators. Snakes are not vicious predators with no natural enemies that they are often portrayed as. Snakes have many predators including birds, mammals, and even other snakes. Snakes are living in constant fear. Apart from their bite, they have few defences having lost the ability to scratch their enemy when they lost their limbs.
Therefore, many snakes will pick a time of day when they know it is at least harder for predators to spot them. Likewise, these periods are also when prey will find it harder to spot them.
For many animals, the most challenging periods are dawn and dusk. And so this is often prime hunting time for all animals.
Though that doesn’t mean that snakes are always crepuscular. For example, the Bandy Bandy (Vermicella annulata).
How to Determine Whether Snakes are Diurnal or Nocturnal?
There are a few ways in which to tell whether a snake is diurnal or nocturnal. The eyes are the most obvious sign of the activity period of the snake. Despite rumours, the shape of the eye does not determine whether a snake is venomous or not. The eyes are more determinant of the activity period. Those with rounded pupils are more nocturnal and those with small, slit-like pupils are more active during the day.
However, that isn’t always accurate. After all the Common Keelback is active during the day during cooler periods but has rounded pupils. Likewise, other species of snakes can be crepuscular but have either pupils depending on their location.
For example, those living in dense forests and active during twilight hours might have rounded pupils to improve their eyesight.
And it isn’t a wise idea to get close to a snake to look at its eyes. To be that close to a snake will often cause a fear response and they might strike at you. A bite to the face can be painful, and a venomous bite can be lethal without care.
What Time of Day are Snakes Most Active?
Generally speaking, snakes can be active at any period of the day, depending on the species. Though there are going to be some high-activity periods you can expect. Diurnal snakes are often found basking in the early morning sun before it gets too hot. Then you have crepuscular snakes that are active at twilight.
However, there is no guarantee of these periods. Snakes could be out at any time, depending on their specific needs.
So learning what time of day snakes are more active and more about snake behaviour is really important. When you live in areas with snakes or you want to explore local beauty spots, it is important to research the wildlife that is likely to be present. Learn which species are likely to be in that area and what time of day they are going to be active.
Likewise, it is also best to know how to spot them, where they are likely to be, and learn how to behave around them.
This information can be found across the internet with ease. And it isn’t just snakes that you should be careful of. Members of the Cassowary (Casuarius) and funnel web spider (Atracidae) families inhabit the same natural beauty spots and can be just as dangerous to humans.
Therefore, if you are going to spend a day hiking, doing a nature walk, or doing other activities outside, always be aware of what can be around you.
How to Avoid Coming into Contact with Snakes in your Garden?
Of course, there is always the potential that snakes can wander into your garden. And you might want to avoid the time when you are outside in your garden when they are out and about. However, snakes will also hide in rock crevices across a garden or among leaf litter or a flower bed.
Therefore, it isn’t about when they are active in your garden, but instead keeping them out of your garden. There are several options for this. You can ensure that there is nothing attracting prey items to your garden by clearing it of potential food sources and hiding spots. You can also use natural deterrents like a species of plant that interferes with a snake’s smell.
Or you could use Envirobug Snake Repellers which simulate the presence of a predator in the garden, deterring the snake from living in the garden.
And these tricks work regardless of whether a snake is nocturnal, diurnal, or crepuscular.
Final Word: Are Snakes Nocturnal?
Snakes are a fantastic species, but they are also a much-feared species. Half of us are anxious around them and one in fifty is fearful of them. Snakes are also fearful of us and the only way to ensure that we don’t come into contact is to either deter them from an area or not be around when they are most active. The latter of these can be hard, as snakes can be active at any period, depending on their species.