When Do Snakes Come Out in Alabama?

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Updated: January 7, 2023
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The wildlife of Alabama should be known by individuals who live there and those who are just traveling through or taking a visit there. Because of the state’s extensive cave systems, wetlands, and barrier islands, Alabama is home to an abundance of snakes. To avoid an inadvertent assault on you or your pets, it’s critical to be aware of peak snake season and how snakes act.

Snake Brumation Period In Alabama

snake poking through leaves

Snakes sometimes come out of their shelters to bask in the sunlight during brumation.

©iStock.com/Govert van Tongerloo

As cold-blooded reptiles, snakes use their surroundings for warmth. Brumation allows snakes to store energy for breeding and other activity during the warmer months. From the end of September to the beginning of December, snakes often begin their brumation cycle. Between March and April, they often emerge from brumation.

In the snake world, hibernation is known as brumation. In the winter, when food is scarce, snakes become less lively and metabolically slow down to conserve energy. Sipping water and moving to acquire it is about all they do. They don’t consume nutrients during brumation because they would not digest. The snake would become ill because of the rotting food in its stomach.

Most Active Periods for Snakes in Alabama

Months

From early spring through the beginning of summer, snakes are most active, which means that they are searching for food and mates. They are still active from late summer to early fall. Many snake species are more active during the day during these months due to the cooler weather. Late summer and early fall are also baby snake seasons when some snakes give birth to live young and eggs deposited earlier in the year begin to hatch.

Time of Day

Snakes are both diurnal and nocturnal, which means they are active at all times of the day. The season has an impact on when they are most active. They avoid the heat by hiding. Therefore, they are most active in the early morning hours of the day in the spring and summer while the sun is still warming the earth. Snakes go to sleep around sundown and don’t usually come out until the next morning.

Snakes To Be On The Lookout For In Alabama

Only six of Alabama’s 49 snake species are venomous, making it one of the least dangerous snake states in the country. Only four of the six are in Birmingham; copperheads, cottonmouths (water moccasins), pygmy rattlesnakes (ground rattlers), and timber rattlesnakes (canebrake rattlers).

Here are the six snakes that are known to be venomous in Alabama:

Copperhead

What Does a Copperhead Snake Look Like

Copperheads are the most common venomous snakes in Alabama.

©Breck P. Kent/Shutterstock.com

Copperheads are Alabama’s most common venomous snakes. They have a triangular head with a facial pit and elliptical pupils. Their body is pinkish with deep brown to reddish crossbands. They have a yellowish to coppery top with paler sides. The adult tail is black to deep brown. Copperheads are on average two to three feet long but can grow up to four feet.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Large eastern diamondback rattlesnake

Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes have a pattern that often fades towards their tail.

©Chase D’animulls/Shutterstock.com

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is Alabama’s deadliest snake. As with the other vipers, its pupils are elliptical. It has a dark green body with darker diamond-shaped spots. The triangular head has pale diagonal stripes. This snake is found mainly in the state’s south. It averages between 3.5 to 5.5 feet long but can grow up to eight feet!

Cottonmouth/Water Moccasin

Moccasin Snake

Cottonmouth snakes can grow up to six feet in length.

©Kristian Bell/Shutterstock.com

The cottonmouth snake likes to stay near water, as its name, water mocassin, suggests. It has a triangular head, facial pits, elliptical pupils, and less prominent eyes. Wide, blackish crossbands cover its deep green or deep brown body. The back of the eye and the tail’s tip are black. This snake can grow as little as 30 to 45 inches or up to six feet!

Pygmy Rattlesnake

Pygmy rattlesnakes are more common in southern Alabama.

©Gerald A. DeBoer/Shutterstock.com

The pygmy rattlesnake (Pigmy) can be identified by its distinctive midline stripe that is either orange or rusty in color. Smokey dots or black crossbars appear in rows on the body. Facial pits and elliptical pupils decorate the head. If you live in southern Alabama, you’re more likely to see this snake. It has a maximum length of 31 inches, with an average length of 15 to 22 inches.

Timber or Canebrake Rattlesnake

Iowa Snakes - Timber Rattlesnake

Timber rattlesnake adults have black tails.

©Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

The timber rattlesnake has a pale brown body with smokey black crossbands or chevrons with pale yellow to white edges. An amber or rusty stripe runs down the back. As adults, these snakes have black tails. They are found across Alabama but less so in the south. They have an average length of three to four feet and can grow a maximum of six feet!

Eastern Coral Snake

Eastern Coral Snake

Eastern coral snakes

rarely bite humans.

©iStock.com/JasonOndreicka

The eastern coral snake’s body has black, yellow, and red rings, with the red and yellow rings touching. An orange band crosses the base of the head. Bites from this snake are rare and usually only occur when handled. This snake is restricted to two tiers of counties in extreme south Alabama. It has an average length of 23 to 32 inches, with a maximum length of 47 inches.

Venomous Snake Bites in Alabama

Despite the presence of six venomous snakes in Alabama, fatalities from snake bites are rare in the state. As with other snakes of the family Viperidae, the timber rattlesnake has venom that is lethal to humans. The copperhead is the most venomous, but diamondback snake bites are more deadly. To avoid any of these snakes biting you, do your utmost to prevent encountering one.

Snake Bite Prevention

Cut grass short: Snakes prefer to avoid open areas. Store outdoor equipment, tools, and toys properly, and inspect them before use. Snakes hide well. A snake may hide in idle play equipment, lawnmowers, or even stacked wood. When feasible, store things indoors, wash thoroughly with a hose, and inspect outside toys like sandboxes before letting kids play with them.

Limit food sources: Snakes follow the food. Keep pet food indoors. Clean under bird feeders. Rodents attract snakes. Using pest control to remove rodents and squirrels from your home will naturally keep snakes out.

What To Do If You Encounter A Snake

Despite their unappealing appearance, snakes are crucial to Alabama’s ecosystem. Snake venom is utilized in medicine, and snakes reduce rodent populations. It is also important to remember that a snake, poisonous or not, is not out to hurt you. Even venomous snakes aren’t a hazard if you leave them alone and watch your pets. Snakes attack when cornered or disturbed.

Snake encounters do not have to result in death or harm to the snake. If you see a snake and are unsure of what you are dealing with, turn back and leave it alone. If it’s in your yard or house, get away from it and call a specialist.

What To Do If You Get Bit by a Snake in Alabama

DO:

  • Keep the snake bite victim calm.
  • Allow 15–30 seconds for the bite to bleed before washing.
  • Limit movement.
  • Get medical care right away.
  • Keep the bite location below the heart to decrease venom flow.
  • Remove any restricting garments as the area may enlarge.
  • Make a loose splint to help limit movement.
  • Get rapid evacuation by car, aircraft, or medical staff.
  • Look for any signs of shock.
  • Only attempt to identify the snake in a safe manner!

DON’T:

  • Panic.
  • Cut the fang marks and suck the venom out with your mouth.
  • Suction.
  • Tourniquet.
  • Ice the area.
  • Give the victim alcohol, caffeine, painkillers, or anything else.
  • Try to catch or transport the snake.
  • Raise the bite site above the person’s heart.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Seth LaGrange/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

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