When Do Snakes Come Out in Arkansas?

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Published: April 12, 2022
Image Credit Wildvet/Shutterstock.com
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Think You Know Snakes?

There are approximately 36 snakes (including six venomous species) in Arkansas. These snakes are more active in the summer, especially early in the morning, late in the evening, and at night when temperatures are not too hot for them. They are active from April to November, and during the summer months, they go out at night to hunt. Between August and September, two to fourteen young are born to each breeding partner. They consume frogs, lizards, tiny snakes, and cicadas, in addition to rodents. There are six deadly snakes in Arkansas, three of which are rattlesnakes, so be careful where you walk.

Snake Brumation Period In Arkansas

snake poking through leaves
Snakes sometimes come out of their shelters to bask in the sunlight during brumation.

iStock.com/Govert van Tongerloo

Brumation can occur between September and December, lasting until March or April. Snakes can’t regulate their body temperature like warm-blooded creatures since they are cold-blooded. They become lethargic as the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a warning that the snake is about to enter brumation. Once the temperature reaches about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius), the snake will become active again. This is usually around springtime in temperate climates.

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Most Active Periods for Snakes in Arkansas

Months

Snakes prefer warm, sunny days. They will be most active in Arkansas during the spring, summer, and fall and less active in the winter. They are most active from early spring through the beginning of summer, implying they are looking for food and mates. Snakes are still active in the late summer and early autumn. Baby snake season occurs in the late summer and early fall when certain snake species give birth to live young, and eggs laid earlier in the year begin to hatch.

Time of Day

Snakes can be diurnal or nocturnal. Rat snakes, corn snakes, and rattlesnakes, for example, appear to prefer to be more active at night throughout the summer. They’re more active during the day in the spring and fall. Snakes can ‘see’ in the dark because of protein channels that are activated by the heat of their prey. Infrared radiation from warm bodies can be detected by pit organs, which are membrane-filled pores on the faces of snakes.

Snakes To Be On The Lookout For In Arkansas

Snakes play a crucial function in our ecosystem. Deaths from venomous snakebites, on the other hand, are extremely rare statistically.

Here are the six snakes that are venomous and may be found in Arkansas:

  • Copperhead
  • Cottonmouth
  • Texas Coral Snake
  • Timber Rattlesnake
  • Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • Western Pygmy Rattlesnake

Copperhead

The Copperhead’s scales are keeled, and their eyes have vertical pupils that make them resemble cat’s eyes.
The copperhead’s scales are keeled, and their eyes have vertical pupils that make them resemble a cat’s eyes.

Creeping Things/Shutterstock.com

One of the most frequent venomous snakes in Arkansas is the southern copperhead. It can blend in with the ground’s foliage because of its hue. The hourglass pattern on its back distinguishes it from other snakes. Crossbands of gray or brown can be found on pit vipers with gray, brown, or reddish heads. Adults can grow up to 36 inches in length. When it’s hot, they’ll go out at night to hunt throughout the spring and summer months.

Cottonmouth/Water Moccasin

Cottonmouth swimming in water. The snake has a long, thick, muscular body measuring up to 6 feet in size.
Cottonmouths have blocky, broad heads.

Seth LaGrange/Shutterstock.com

An aquatic pit viper, the western cottonmouth (commonly known as water moccasin), can be found throughout Arkansas. Necks of cottonmouths and water snake species are typically smaller than their heads. When compared to water snakes, cottonmouths have blocky, broad heads. An olive-brown to black color with light crossbands distinguishes these snakes from other venomous snakes. They can grow up to 158 cm or around five feet long.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Western diamondback rattlesnakes are large pit vipers.

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Diamondbacks are active from April through October, even at night. You can find them in the Ouachita Mountains and southwestern Ozark highlands of Arkansas. A bite from one can be dangerous but seldom fatal. However, untreated bites can cause major medical consequences or even death.

The western diamondback rattlesnake is light brown to grayish brown in hue. It has brownish dots with a pale border. Its adult size ranges from four to six feet. These rattlesnakes hibernate in small caverns or abandoned burrows. Western diamondback rattlesnakes have been observed swimming or climbing up trees when chasing prey.

Timber or Canebrake Rattlesnake

Iowa Snakes - Timber Rattlesnake
Timber rattlesnakes prey on insects and birds.

Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

The timber rattlesnake pit viper has V-shaped black bands on its body. Adults range from 36 to 60 inches. Forests, rocky or brushy areas, and hillsides are habitats for the timber rattlesnake. Researchers have seen radio-tagged medium-sized adults in trees, looking for prey. From April through October, these snakes hunt at night in hot weather. From August to October, they hatch three to sixteen young. Insects and birds are their main prey.

Western Pygmy Rattlesnake

Western pygmy rattlesnakes inhabit marshes and lakes.

Gerald A. DeBoer/Shutterstock.com

The small, venomous, western pygmy rattlesnake grows to be between 15 and 20 inches long and has a crimson stripe down its backbone with black cross-bands. The backdrop color is slate-gray. The crown of the head has a spear-tip design. Pygmy rattlers inhabit Arkansas and 20 counties in southern Missouri. These snakes prefer flatwoods, sandhills, mixed forests, and floodplains. They inhabit marshes and lakes.

Texas Coral Snake

Texas coral snake
Texas coral snakes are very rare in Arkansas.

Scott Delony/Shutterstock.com

Despite its name, the Texas coral snake lives throughout the southern United States and northeastern and central Mexico. This snake is one of Arkansas’ rarest venomous snakes. Its head and body are adorned with bright red, yellow, and black bands. Texas coral snakes range in length from 51-76 cm (20-30 in), with the longest reaching 121 cm (48 in).

What To Do If You Encounter A Snake

Snakes will usually go to tremendous measures to avoid encountering humans. Even venomous snakes, according to most specialists, do not constitute a hazard. Snake venom poison has been utilized in medicine for a long time, and snakes also manage the rodent population. If you come across a snake and are unsure of what you’re dealing with, it’s best to back away and leave the snake alone. Call a professional if it’s in your yard or house and you want it removed.

Conclusion

Whether venomous or not, wild snakes should be avoided at all times of the year, night or day. In general, snakes are most active in the early mornings of spring and summer days when the soil is warming. Snakes usually retire during the evening and sleep during the night, in addition to their brumation time during the winter months.

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About the Author

A substantial part of my life has been spent as a writer and artist, with great respect to observing nature with an analytical and metaphysical eye. Upon close investigation, the natural world exposes truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of all that we are is embodied in our planet; and the process of writing and creating art around this topic is an attempt to communicate its wonders.