We are often asked if snakes “hide” in old tree stumps or dead trees. While it is a good idea to remove dead trees and stumps, the reason isn’t necessarily because of snakes. Removing a decaying tree or an old stump is important for safety, structural integrity, pest control, aesthetics, and disease prevention. If you’re unsure whether a tree on your property needs to be removed, it’s a good idea to consult with a professional arborist or tree removal service to assess the tree’s condition and recommend the best course of action.
Back to the original question… should you be concerned about snakes in stumps and trees? In general, snakes tend to become more active in the spring as the weather begins to warm up. This is because snakes are ectothermic, meaning that their body temperature is regulated by the temperature of their environment. As the weather gets warmer, snakes become more active in order to regulate their body temperature and to search for food and potential mates.
Some species of snakes are arboreal, meaning they live in trees or are adapted to climbing, and may use tree stumps or other elevated locations as hiding spots. While there are some species of snakes that may climb trees or take shelter in hollow tree trunks or stumps, not all snakes hide in trees and stumps specifically. Snakes may use a variety of hiding places, including rock crevices, leaf litter, and burrows. The specific behavior of snakes can depend on the species of snake, as well as the environment and climate in which they live.
In coastal Washington, there are several species of snakes that are native to the region. However, it’s important to note that snakes in general are relatively uncommon in the Pacific Northwest compared to other regions of the United States, and many of the species found in this area are small and non-venomous.
If you find a snake in your tree, the best thing to do is to leave it alone and avoid disturbing it. Snakes are generally not aggressive and will only bite in self-defense, so as long as you don’t try to touch or handle the snake, you should be safe.
Here are some tips for safely dealing with a snake in your tree:
- Keep your distance: Stay at least several feet away from the tree and avoid approaching the snake. This will reduce the risk of startling or disturbing the snake, which could cause it to feel threatened.
- Don’t try to handle the snake: Even if you’re confident that the snake is non-venomous, it’s best to avoid handling it. Snakes can be unpredictable and may bite if they feel threatened or agitated.
- Call a professional: If you’re unsure about the species of snake or are concerned about the snake’s presence on your property, consider contacting a professional wildlife removal service or a local animal control agency. They will have the expertise and equipment needed to safely and humanely remove the snake from your property.
- Keep pets and children away: If you have pets or small children, keep them away from the area until the snake has been safely removed. Pets may try to approach or attack the snake, which could result in injury to both the pet and the snake.
Remember, snakes play an important role in the ecosystem and are generally not a threat to humans. If you encounter a snake in your tree or elsewhere in nature, it’s best to observe it from a safe distance and appreciate it as a fascinating part of the natural world.