All species of North Carolina snakes seek subsurface shelter during the winter months. Most Coastal Plain and Piedmont snakes "hibernate" individually in underground cavities large enough for them to move up and down to avoid freezing temperatures. In the mountains, large snakes sometimes share dens, presumably because there aren't enough cavities for each snake to have its own. Snakes in the Piedmont commonly use stump and root holes, mammal burrows, and loose soil. It's rare for snakes to winter in buildings; they seem to prefer natural underground retreats. Most snakes are in or close to their wintering sites from mid-October to mid-March.
The Snake Scientist - Where can you see thousands of snakes emerging from hibernation at the same time, forming mating balls the size of your living room couch? NPR's Living on Earth goes north of the border to find out. (Also available in RealAudio and MP3 in the table of contents near the top of the page.)
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