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With weather warming, be on alert for snakes in Arizona

Snakes don't hibernate, they 'brumate'
snake pic.jpg
Posted at 4:57 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 14:02:43-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — You might have thought the winter and early spring were safe from snakes, but in our area that’s not always a given.

"80 degrees -- that’s a good temperature for everybody, for us, and the reptiles as well too,” said Rural Metro Battalion Chief John Walka.

Waka says hikers should always be watching where they step, especially when the temperature is above 80 degrees. He says bites are rare, and often a result of people doing the wrong thing.

“If you do see a rattlesnake the best thing to do is walk away from it, don’t poke it with a stick or touch it in any way,” said Walka.

Viewer Lindsay Roth sent us a picture of a sunbathing snake early last month. She said it might be a good idea to remind people that snakes don’t actually hibernate. They "brumate" and can sense the warm weather.

“We [commonly] use the term hibernation, but that’s not truly what reptiles do, they don’t actually hibernate, it is not the correct term,” said Walka.

Since snakes brumate, you might see them at odd times even before the warmer months arrive.

“Those snakes typically don’t stick around very long. They are just passing through looking for a heat source,” said Walka.

“A lot of time if you see a snake on or near your property that snake will be moving on.”

Walka says it best to leave them alone, but if you see one in an unsafe place call your local fire department’s non-emergency number or a pest control service.

"Any kinds of pets, children, or near a school," Walka said. "We like to take those venomous reptiles and move them to a safe area.”

According to a Tucson Fire Department spokesperson, city residents should not call TFD about snake issues.

"The Tucson Fire Department recommends that if you have an issue with a snake in or around your home to call a local snake removal expert," the spokesperson said via email.