Snakes – Hibernation Habits

Q: Will poisonous snakes hibernate in a compost pile? I’m concerned about turning it and finding one.

A: Yes, snakes of all kinds can hibernate in compost piles, leaf piles, rock piles and firewood piles. Even so, the chance of you being bitten is pretty small. If you use a pitchfork to turn your pile, you’ll be a couple of feet away from any snake you unearth. You can minimize snake exposure by only turning the pile in the warm months, when snakes are typically out of their hiding places and looking for crickets, frogs and mice to eat. One method of repelling them in summer would be to beat on the pile with a stick, leave the area for awhile, so they can crawl away unseen, and then return to turn the pile. Or you can simply not turn the pile at all. Eventually you’ll get finely decomposed compost, which snakes wouldn’t like to live in because it’s hard to move around in it.

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