Hiking has always been a favorite hobby of mine.
Unfortunately, some of my hiking adventures ended up transforming into a real-life scary movie.
One word. Ophidiophobia.
Now if you’re anything like me, then you’ve probably never heard of ophidiophobia before. But it’s actually one of the most common phobias that exist – the fear of snakes.
Not only does this phobia cause me to get picked on by other hikers, hunters, and backpackers, but it also has negatively affected my hiking experience more than once. In fact, when I first started hiking, I would often research topics like “what is the best time of the day to go hiking to avoid snakes” or “what is the best time of the year to go hiking to avoid snakes”.
Here is a quick summary of my research.
The best time of the day to go hiking to avoid snakes is during the coolest parts of the day. This is because snakes are ectothermic (cold-blooded) and typically come out more during the warm parts of the day. For the same reason, the best time of year to go hiking to avoid snakes is during the winter or cooler parts of the year. Unfortunately, some snakes are nocturnal so hiking at night may not always be the best idea
However, that’s not all you need to know if you want to avoid snakes while hiking. I have much more helpful information below that will teach you not only how to avoid snakes, but how to repel them. I also ask a snake expert by the name of Steven Kennedy what he thinks is the best time to hike to avoid snakes.
Find out what he has to say and more below!
Best Way to Avoid Snakes While Hiking
The sad reality is that it’s virtually impossible to completely avoid snakes while hiking.
Fortunately, you can at least lower your chances of encountering a snake while you’re out hiking on trails. Or at least lower the chances of you getting bitten.
Well, first things first, if you want to avoid snakes while you’re out hiking, then you need to stick to wide open trails whenever possible. This will help decrease the chance of a snake surprising you out of nowhere.
You also want to avoid walking too close to areas where a snake could be hidden. This means no walking near big rocks, fallen tree limbs. bushes, thick layers of leaves, tall grass, etc. Don’t forget to look up every once in a while as well as snakes can also hide in trees.
Now if you do happen to spot a snake while you’re out hiking, then you want to make sure to keep a distance of at least 6 feet between you and the snake at all times. And please, whatever you do, don’t try to handle the snake or harass them in any way. They just want to slither along in life like everyone else.
How to Protect Yourself From a Snake Bite
No matter how well you try to avoid snakes, sometimes you’re just not going to see them coming. And in the rare case that a snake does happen to sneak up on you while you’re out trekking through the forest, then you need to be properly prepared.
The best preparation you can take to protect yourself from a snake bite is to wear proper clothing. The best clothing you can wear to protect yourself from snakes are long pants, rubber or leather boots (at least two inches above the ankle), and snake gaiters. Wearing thick socks and gloves will also help to give you a little extra protection.
Should You Use a Walking Stick for Snake Protection?
A common technique that’s been used over the ages to deter snakes away from you is to use a stick of some kind to make noise in front of you while you walk. The more noise the better.
This technique is perfect if you do have to trek through an area where a snake could be hiding (tall grass is a good example). Since your vision will be limited you probably won’t be able to notice the snake until you run straight into it – especially if you’re walking through tall grass.
But if you’re making a bunch of noise with a walking stick of some kind then the snake will hopefully be able to feel that vibration and will more than likely run away as fast as they can. This should make them easier to notice as you’ll be able to see the grass moving when they slither away.
You don’t need to buy a fancy walking stick or trekking pole either. Any type of long branch should do fine. But if you have the extra money and want to buy yourself a nice walking stick then go ahead. This trekking pole (link goes to Amazon.com) is sort of like the one that I personally use.
What a Snake Expert Has to Say About Hiking and Snakes
While I’ve done my fair bit of research on avoiding snakes while hiking, I’m certainly no expert on the subject. That’s why I went ahead and informed an actual snake expert that I was writing an article on the topic “What’s the Best Time to Hike to Avoid Snakes” and asked him “what time of the day are snakes the most active”?
This is what Steven Kennedy from StevesSnaketuary.com had to say.
“There isn’t actually a particular time of day that all snakes will be out or when all snakes will be sleeping. Some snakes are diurnal (during the day), and some snakes are nocturnal (during the night). Snakes are ectotherms, which most people refer to as “cold-blooded.” That means they use the outside temperature to warm up or cool down. If it’s too cold, they look for a warmer spot. If it’s too hot, they look for a cooler spot. That is one reason why people can sometimes find them under things, such as rocks, boards, or even under leaves when they are raking or cleaning their yards.
A lot of times rain will bring more snakes out. This is sometimes because some snakes stay underground most of the time, so the rain floods them out. Also, rain brings other critters out, so the snakes come out to look for food. Snakes don’t necessarily hibernate. Technically, they go into brumation. They don’t fully go to sleep like warm-blooded animals do during hibernation. This means, if there is a “warm snap” during colder months, people may run across snakes.
If anyone is hiking or spending time in the woods, it would be best to wear some type of boots. Even though they still may not keep you 100% safe from snake bites, boots would give you a little more protection than shoes or sandals. Here are some important things to remember too… You should know where the closest hospital is, and if they even carry antivenom for the snakes in that area.
Some hospitals don’t carry a lot of antivenom if they even carry it at all. The snake bite kits do NOT work! The venom is already in your system, and the little plungers in those snake bite kits are not effective, and can actually cause more damage! Do NOT cut and suck! That would increase the chances of more infection or additional envenomation. Do NOT use a tourniquet or ice! Tourniquets and ice will cause more tissue necrosis, and depending on the severity, could cause a person to lose that limb or appendage.
The best thing to do in the event of a snake bite is to lay flat, stay calm, and get to the hospital. I know it may be easier said than done, but stay calm as much as possible and breathe slowly and deeply to lower your heart rate. Remove any jewelry in case of swelling.”