Are Snakes Cold-Blooded? Sssseriously Cool Facts For Kids

Joan Agie
Feb 29, 2024 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Oct 30, 2021
Blue viper venomous and poisonous snake.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.1 Min

Snakes are ectothermic reptiles, meaning they are cold-blooded animals.

Unlike warm-blooded animals, they do not hibernate in winter to conserve energy. Snakes belong to the class of Reptilia, suborder Serpentes.

Snakes are mainly found in tropical regions with warm temperatures, especially near the equator. Snakes are limbless vertebrates who are covered in scales. They are cold-blooded, meaning snakes cannot regulate their body heat and depend on external factors like environmental changes and temperature fluctuations to warm up or cool down their body temperature. Snakes are ambush predators who do not actively pursue their prey for food. Instead, they choose to hide and attack when prey comes into their vicinity. Due to this hunting technique, snakes have developed a variety of colors and patterns which help them camouflage perfectly within their habitat.

The majority of snakes live in the wild, while only a few tame species are kept as pets. If you spot a wild snake in your garden, immediately seek professional help.

If you enjoy reading all about if cold-blooded snakes hibernate during winter, then why not read some more fun facts with Kidadl. Be sure to check out are rabbits nocturnal and are pigs good pets after you have finished reading this article.

Why are snakes cold-blooded?

Snakes are ectothermic animals with scaly skin and no hair. Snakes are reptiles who metabolize their food by basking in the sun. Snakes are cold-blooded because that is how these wild animals adapted. Their biology is cold-blooded today because the gene which carried this specific trait has given them their best survival technique over the years.

Cold-blooded or ectothermic reptiles have existed for millions of years and survived at least two mass extinctions according to scientific data and evidence. This survival instinct gives them a lot of advantages over warm-blooded animals like us. As reptiles cannot produce body heat from metabolism, they can survive on lesser amounts of food for a long time. An animal like a snake only needs to feed once every 5-15 days, depending on the size and species to which it belongs.

Also, snakes are less prone to getting bacterial infections or viruses. Viruses or bacteria thrive in warm temperatures. As the body temperature of snakes is much lower than warm-blooded animals, bacteria and viruses cannot flourish properly in their bodies. Furthermore, snakes do not have to carry out any complex functions which are essential for producing body heat. They also have lower brain functions compared to mammals, which further lowers the energy consumed for carrying out bodily functions.

Are all snakes cold-blooded?

Contrary to popular belief that snakes are warm-blooded, in reality, most snakes are cold-blooded. As of now, there are no species of snake discovered which could regulate its own body temperature if it wanted to.

All snakes rely on sunlight and other sources of heat to carry out functions like metabolism and develop an immune system to keep them active. Long-term loss of sunlight or cold temperature can make them hibernate, a state in which the snakes can live for months on end without food. However, there could be exceptions to this rule, where a rare species of snake could've mutated and survived with that genetic transformation away from the human eye.

Green Tree Python coiled around tree branch.

What happens to snakes in a cold climate?

When the weather gets cold and the temperature falls, less heat and sunlight is inevitable. This has a huge impact on the snake population as reptiles like them depend on the heat of the sun to perform regular bodily functions.

During long spells of cool weather in the winter months, the loss of heat, which is necessary for carrying out metabolism, that snakes hugely rely occurs. As the temperature turns cold, the metabolism and immune system in a snake’s body start to shut down completely. A snake may function at a lower level of energy, which it has stored. This is essential for basic survival.

It's almost like sleeping for months or days until the weather gets warm enough for snakes to function properly again. This phenomenon is called hibernation. Before hibernating, a snake finds a place to hide and burrow itself in the ground, which is secluded, away from external danger and has a mostly even temperature so that the snake can bide its time. Most cold-blooded animals go into hibernation when temperatures fall out of their preferred optimum temperature range.

What do snakes do in winters?

Snakes are primarily found in tropical climate regions. You can easily spot hundreds of varieties of snakes in a jungle where they can be seen basking in the sunlight on rocks and trees. However, it's harder to seek them out in winter, or in cold regions. That is because snakes are cold-blooded animals.

All cold-blooded animals rely on the Sun to regulate their body temperature. When the heat goes down, like in winter months and everything gets frozen, cold-blooded animals like snakes and various lizards go into a state called hibernation. They become less active in winter than summer.

As explained before, hibernation is like a sleep, induced when all the bodily functions in these cold-blooded animals are reduced to a bare minimum or stopped altogether in some species, so that their energy can be stored to stay alive until the next time they find a warm climate. Snakes cannot survive for a long time in cold weather, which is out of their preferred optimum temperature range. Hence, in winters, when the surface of the ground becomes frozen, cold-blooded snakes prepare for hibernation and burrow themselves into the ground below the surface level where the frost cannot reach. There, the temperature is generally even throughout the year, which is great for snakes.

A snake goes into hibernation before the winter and sleeps there for months until the temperature is warm enough for it to come out. If a snake stays too long on frozen land, it may die from cold.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for are snakes cold-blooded then why not take a look at: are rabbits herbivores? Or python facts.

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Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

Joan Agie picture

Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

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