Snakes are solitary animals, so it may sound bizarre to talk about snake groups. However, it’s not as bizarre as you might think because snakes can gather into groups in some situations, especially during the mating phase.
So, today we will discuss snake groups, what they’re called, and why they occur in the first place. Let’s check it out!
Names for a Group of Snakes
Interestingly, there are several names used to describe various snake groups based on the reason the groups have formed, to begin with.
Here are some notions to consider:
Den of Snakes
This applies to hibernating snakes only. Some snake species live in areas with cycling seasons, which means they need to undergo the low temperatures of the cold season at some point.
When that happens, snakes enter a special hibernation state called torpor. This is a state of semi-consciousness, during which the snake is no longer active but is still conscious.
It simply lowers its heart rate and metabolism to enter an energy-conservation state for the winter.
Snakes always hide before entering torpor, first because they are no longer able to defend themselves from predators in that state and second because they need to protect themselves from the low temperatures.
A den is usually the ideal safe spot, as it keeps the snake safe and comfortable during winter.
A den of snakes occurs when several snakes share the same den, which tends to happen among various species.
This leads to the formation of a communal gathering, allowing snakes to keep each other warm and safe. The group will disband as soon as spring temperatures kick in.
Nest of Snakes
The notion of communal gatherings also applies to nesting. This refers to snakes laying their eggs in a communal nest, which is designed to increase the eggs’ survival chances.
Some snakes even protect the eggs by patrolling the surrounding area and expressing increased aggression and viciousness toward any intruder.
Interestingly, only snakes of the same species or related species resort to communal nests.
Knot of Snakes
A knot describes a group of snakes that are intertwined with one another. This typically occurs during the mating phase, which means that the knot you’re observing contains a female and 2-3 or more males.
It may also contain only males, but this is due to some snakes’ evolutionary cunning and adaptation.
In short, some males can reproduce the female pheromones to attract other males and form a knot or a mating ball with them. The oblivious males are driven by the pheromones’ scent and expect to encounter a female, but they get a disguised male instead.
As the ball forms, the culprit responsible for the mating gathering slithers its way out of the knot and goes to mate with the female himself.
By the time the other males realize the deception, the other male may have already completed the mating.
Bed of snakes
A snake bed consists of several snakes that bask together in the sun. Several species resort to this behavior, including garter snakes, copperheads, water snakes, and rattlesnakes, among several others.
The reason behind the behavior is safety. Snakes are safer in larger groups, especially when basking in the sun, which often leaves them lethargic, semi-dormant, and vulnerable to predators.
You are more likely to stumble across a snake bed during the cooler months or days of the year when snakes can also use their own body heat to warm up faster.
Otherwise, they prefer to bask on their own.
Pit of Snakes
Snake pits simply describe group gatherings with various purposes, including mating, basking, nesting, etc.
The notion of a snake pit refers primarily to venomous species, which is why it describes species like copperheads, rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and gaboon vipers.
Gaboon viper pits are generally the most dangerous, not only because vipers themselves are deadly but because most pits are formed for nesting purposes. If you come across a gaboon viper pit, you know you’re looking at a bunch of females protecting their eggs.
So, the situation can get deadly fast.
Name for a Group of Baby Snakes
There are no snake-specific notions to describe a group of baby snakes specifically. However, baby snakes are known to gather in groups in some cases, presumably for defensive purposes, given that they are stronger in numbers.
In this case, some of the most fitting notions that describe their gathering include brood, clutch, or even generation.
The notion of a generation of snakes is the most commonly accepted because it describes all snakes as belonging to the same age cohort. The notions of brood and clutch also apply to other animals, especially birds.
Name for a Group of Venomous Snakes
There are no specific group names for venomous snakes aside from pits. The notion of snake pit refers almost exclusively to venomous species but can also describe non-venomous gatherings.
Other than that, venomous snakes can also be described by the standard notions that we’ve just discussed, like nests, knots, and dens.
This being said, you may also come across the notion of a ‘lethal of cobras.’ The notion refers to a cobra gathering, and it is species-specific.
This identifier is meant to describe both the gathering itself and the dangers associated with it, given that cobras are often deadly.
Reasons Why Snakes Group Together
Snakes can gather in groups for a variety of reasons, depending on their goals, species, and geographical conditions.
In this sense, we have several different categories, such as:
- Hibernating – Some snakes hibernate in groups, although this isn’t as common, generally speaking. The primary reason for group hibernation is improved security because hibernating snakes are lethargic and can’t defend themselves properly. But they have higher survival chances when in groups. Another reason is improved temperature insulation, as snakes keep each other warm during the colder season.
- Mating – Mating gatherings are probably the most common snake groups. Many species form mating balls and knots during the mating season, including the garter snake and anacondas. These mating balls usually consist of one female and several males, but several females may be present as well at times. It all depends on how many snakes live in one given area.
- Basking – Some species also bask together, which provides them extra protection against predators.
- Extra protection – Some snakes gather in groups to defend themselves against predators. However, this behavior is more prevalent among hatchlings and juveniles, as adult snakes are unlikely to engage in it. Snakes get more solitary the older they get.
- Foraging – This is a less common behavior, but it still exists among some species. Some snakes can gather in groups to forage their natural habitat and hunt together. This increases their likelihood of finding food. Garter snakes tend to exhibit this behavior, but it’s rather uncommon even for them. Snakes are generally territorial and possessive when it comes to food, females, and any other resource.
As a closing note, snakes are solitary animals, no exception. They only gather in groups under exceptional circumstances. So, you need to be very wary of any snake gathering you might run into.
Whether those snakes are mating, hibernating, or basking together, they’re likely to be extra aggressive and dangerous.
In this case, you’ll have several mouths to be concerned about, and the danger grows exponentially if we throw some venom into the mix.
It’s unlikely that you will encounter a snake group in the wild, but if you do, at least you now know some of the potential explanations.
Observe the gathering from a distance and be on your way.