Keeping plenty of distance between you and an unwelcome snake is definitely a priority when unplugging! But how can you keep these reptiles away?
Snakes are attracted to heat, but avoid smoke, so they may approach a smokeless fire. However, snakes avoid places with a high amount of human activity, and won’t approach a campsite unless looking for food. Most snakes found in campsites are harmless, but animal control can be called for venomous snakes.
Being close to nature through camping can be a great way to destress and reprioritize! You can be a little too close to nature, however, and a lot too close to a pair of venomous fangs. Is there a surefire way to keep reptilian visitors away?
How Snakes Respond to Fire
Snakes are cold-blooded. This means that body temperature depends on their environment. You may have seen snakes basking in the sun to warm themselves up before.
Snakes, in colder temperatures, do the same thing. This leads snakes to find sources of warmth in their environment during cold weather. The source of warmth could be a patch of sunlight, a hot car, or a nice toast campfire. Snakes may approach the fire and try to use it to warm up, the same way the humans are. Unfortunately, snakes are far less likely to be invited to a s’more roast.
Snakes may like the fire, but like any animals, they don’t want the smoke. A smoky fire might keep snakes away as they try to avoid the smoke, but a drier, cleaner fire might just pull them in. Whether a snake will respond to fire may also depend on how warm the weather is, or how many snakes were in the area to begin with, so don’t go making smoke just yet. There are more reliable ways to keep snakes out of your space.
Why Snakes Respond to Fire
Snakes can detect heat using pit organs, which are located in the face of the snake and form a thermal image within their snake’s brain. This ability is important to the snake for several reasons.
Prey is a big one, snakes can find their prey by locating the heat produced by a mouse or vole. Besides needing to eat, snakes rely on the heat in their surroundings to keep themselves warm. When snakes and other reptiles become cold, they move more slowly, and if they get cold enough, they may stop moving altogether until they become warm again. To stay moving and hunt down prey, snakes need to keep themselves warm.
Thermal detection is very important in keeping the snake on its metaphorical feet. This heat detection can help the snake catch its warm prey, or find your fire. A snake won’t approach your fire to give you a scare though! They’re just looking for a good place to bask and soak in the warmth, or find prey.
Snakes have also been known to hide in unburned firewood piles, because those areas offer them lots of neat little hiding places, and often contain prey for the reptile. Smoke, on the other hand, can be dangerous to any animal, and snakes are no exception. The harmful smoke can keep the snake from getting important oxygen, so the snake is going to give the source of said smoke a wide berth.
Smoke is not a foolproof way to keep away snakes, however, so if fanged reptiles are a concern of yours, you’ll want to try another tactic.
Ways to Avoid Snakes While Camping
One of the best ways to keep snakes and other animals at bay is to make sure you never leave food out while camping! Food will attract unwanted company like mice and birds. Snakes may come along to eat up the pests you’ve attracted, so keep everything clean and food free!
You should also make sure you’re not providing the snakes with anything to hide in or take cover under. Your campsite should be cleared, and you should keep piles of items like firewood for long periods of time. Snakes aren’t usually aggressive and love to hide, so make sure you don’t give them the chance.
When choosing a camping spot, keep an eye out for snake holes. This was their home before it was your vacation, so don’t intrude into their space. If you’re still concerned, you can get snake repellent to keep these reptiles at bay.
If a snake does invade your camping spot, don’t freak out. You’re too big for a snake to eat, so they don’t want anything to do with you. If the snake is nonvenomous, you can choose to leave it alone until it slithers off. If you think the snake might be venomous or aggressive call animal control to get rid of it. Don’t try to take on a snake by yourself, you may do more harm than good.
Benefits of a Campfire
Even if it’s not a foolproof snake repellant, there are a few reasons to keep a campfire going. If you’re setting up a fire, you’re probably making your presence known in the area, and most animals will avoid humans.
Smoke can keep away unwanted visitors like flies, and you can use a campfire to burn any biodegradable trash like paper, plant trimmings, and old food. Disposing of food in a fire can be safer than leaving it in a trash can because animals might try to get into the trash and get the food out.
It can provide heat, light, and help you destress! Fires, according to one study, actually decrease blood pressure and help you relax and feel calmer. Just make sure you’re only burying your fire in a spot prepared for it, where it won’t burn out of control. That will drive out the snakes, but it will drive you out with it.
Campfires, aside from just being useful, are just a nice thing to have when camping! They’re beautiful, and provide a great place for everyone to snuggle together and socialize! Don’t let snakes ruin your fun camping, nature should be respected, but it can also be a lot of fun!