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Sssocializing Sssnakes

snakes hiding and basking on rocks
Photo by Jared Maida

Did you know that snakes can actually be social?

Many snakes in the Okanagan participate in communal denning during hibernation. Communal denning is a type of social living that occurs when many snakes of either different or same species live in the same den. As snakes are such solitary creatures all other times of the year this is quite a change from typical behaviours.

Why would they be okay with hibernating together if they ignore each other normally?

In many cases, snakes will share a den for hibernation simply because there is a lack of other suitable denning sites in the area. This den scarcity forces them to accept living in close quarters with many other snakes of the same and different species.

Communal denning can provide increased vigilance to predators, an increase in reproductive opportunities and protection from environmental factors like cold weather. Communal denning has also been seen as the center of communication where each snake acquires and processes visual, tactile and chemical information from other snakes.


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