Snakes are wonderful for so many reasons! I can see it, some of you are thrilled by this and others…. not so much, but yes – snakes are good, even if they’re not your cup of tea.
Snakes don’t have to be your favorite animal for you to realize that they play a vital role in our ecosystem and that they’re worth protecting. How many people have mice in their cupboards during the winter? How many people love raptors, like the Red-Tailed Hawk? Without snakes, the world would be a much different place, and not for the better!
These reptiles are a huge part of the food web. They are “middle-order” predators, meaning that they are hunters, but ones that aren’t apex (or top) predators. They help manage populations of lower order animals – often, these are animals that we consider as pests! They will hunt a variety of rodents that eat our crops (or snacks in your cabinets!), insects that may scare or annoy you, and other small animals that can potentially harm you or carry diseases.
Not only do snakes manage populations, but they also provide food for higher level predators like raptors, bobcats, coyotes, and many others! Do you love owls? Save snakes. Do you love big cats? Save snakes. Ensuring the survival of one species, helps to ensure the survival of all! Everything is connected.
Yes, some snakes are scary for the reason that they might be able to hurt us, but for the most part, in this area (Northeast America), a majority of snakes are non-venomous and prefer to flee when encountered. It takes a LOT of energy to fight and as a cold-blooded animal, energy is a valuable thing to keep and not use unnecessarily.
For all of these reasons (and because I think their faces are cute), I urge homeowners to build hibernacula, or “over-wintering” homes. These homes will provide snakes with important habitat, warmth, and protection. The best part is that they’re relatively easy to make!
First, dig a hole. It should be below the frost line in your area. These cold-blooded animals need to stay warm! Fill it with large rocks. If you’re in Pennsylvania, you might be able to use some of the rocks that you took out of the hole in the first place! Once you have filled it almost to the top with large, loosely fitting rocks (there needs to be space for the snakes to move), cover it with brush. It’s always great to pick up sticks after your trees suffer storm damage, so just add it to your growing hibernaculum! This creates a good point of access, insulates the hole, and offers protection as they’re leaving home. Click here for a more detailed set of instructions if you’re still unsure of how to proceed.
Just remember, if you make it, they’ll come, but it may take a while for them to move in! Don’t be discouraged if it goes unused the first year, but continue to check back and you’ll be sure to get some new predators taking care of your mouse problem!
Wish that you could bring snakes into your house without actually have them slither around? Look no further! Check out snakes in my shop today!