How to Avoid Snakes While Hiking (Timing & Other Helpful Tips)

The last thing you want to see while hiking is a snake. Snakes are incredible reptiles, but they are also quite dangerous, even if they aren’t dangerous. That said, many people struggle with how to avoid snakes while hiking.

Read about local species, find out what they look like, and stay away from areas where they are active to avoid snakes while hiking. Avoid tall grass and piles of leaves where snakes typically hide and wait for prey to walk by. Make sure to wear closed-toe shoes so snakes cannot easily bite your feet and bring a first aid kit just in case.

Frequently look at the ground in front of you as snakes typically blend in with the environment. Follow along as we explore how to avoid snakes while hiking so you can enjoy your time outdoors.

What Time of Day Should I Hike to Avoid Snakes?

Go hiking in the early morning or evening to avoid snakes. However, you must make sure to stop hiking before the sun goes down as snakes become quite active at that time. Mid-day and late evening is when snakes typically hunt their prey, and that’s you can accidentally encounter them while hiking.

How to Avoid Snakes on Hikes

Read About Local Snakes

There are over 3,000 species of snakes, and they each behave uniquely. The best way to avoid snakes while hiking is to figure out which species you are most likely to encounter. Each species of snake has unique nesting, sleeping, and eating habits.

Once you learn which type of snake generally habits the area you plan to hike at, you can figure out which behaviors to look for. Pay attention to information about what plants local snakes are attracted to as well as what time they are most active throughout the day.

Wear Closed-Toe Shoes

Not only are open-toe shoes impractical for hiking, but they can also leave you vulnerable to snakes. Snakes are more likely to bite your feet than your legs while hiking in most cases. They typically stay low to the ground and attack in quick bursts to intimidate perceived threats.

Because of that, you must do what you can to protect your feet as well as possible from snake bites.

Stay Away From Tall Grass

Tall grass is a snake’s best friend. It provides the perfect cover for them to wait and eat their prey. Rodents typically scurry through tall grass, so snakes will hide amongst it and wait to jump out at them.

It’s also easy to accidentally step on snakes while hiking through tall grass. Their first instinct will be to bite your feet, ankles, or calves in retaliation when you step on them. Always look for an alternate route to go around tall grass while hiking to avoid snakes, chiggers, and ticks.

Avoid Piles of Leaves

Much like tall grass, piles of leaves provide the perfect hiding spot for snakes. Snakes often hide in piles of dead leaves and brush and wait for rodents and small animals to walk by.  Keep your distance each time you walk past piles of dead leaves and brush while hiking to avoid snakes and other pests like ticks, spiders, and chiggers.

Keep Your Distance

It’s not always possible to avoid snakes while hiking. If you encounter snakes while hiking, you must keep your distance to avoid getting bitten. Ideally, you should stay at least 6 feet away from snakes when you encounter them while hiking.

Snakes have an extraordinary striking distance. They can strike as far as 2/3 of the length of their body which puts you at great risk when you get too close. When you see a snake, simply take a few steps away, keep your eye on it, and walk an alternate route.

Pay Attention

It is believed that snakes have existed for 128 million years, so they have had plenty of time to adapt and be as discreet as possible. Whether you are hiking or walking in a creek, you must pay attention to every step you take. They are often camouflaged with scales that mimic their surroundings, and that makes it easy to miss them.

Look up which snakes are native to your area, and study pictures of them. That way, you will know what to look for while hiking your favorite trails.

Use a Tactical Walking Stick

Sure, snakes are scary, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t get scared as well. Tactical walking sticks are practical while hiking because they help provide balance. However, they also work to scare off snakes and other critters that may get in your way on the trail.

You should never attack snakes as that is inhumane. That said, snakes are less likely to attack you when you have a walking stick. You can also use the walking stick to ward off snakes when they look like they are ready to strike. Simply put your walking stick at your side and quickly run ahead and away from the snake.

Bring a First Aid Kit

While it’s best to avoid snakes while hiking, you cannot guarantee that you won’t get bitten. This is especially true if you visit an area with a dense snake population. You must quickly disinfect snake bites as soon as possible and place the area of the bite in a neutral position.

Keep the site of the bite lower than your heart and stay calm until you can go somewhere for professional help. A first aid kit can help you fight off infections and minimize blood loss, but only medical professionals can ensure your safety.

However, you should call 911 right away if you are bitten by a snake that you know is venomous or suspect to be venomous. It’s also important to call 911 or visit a hospital right away if you get bitten by a snake in an area with lots of veins. While most snakes aren’t venomous, they can still sever veins and cause serious blood loss.

What Do You Do if You See a Snake While Hiking?

Ignore snakes if you see them while hiking. Snakes will most likely leave you alone unless you step on them or get too close to them. Never provoke snakes when you encounter them while hiking because they are defensive reptiles.

Stay at least 6 to 10 feet away from them to reduce the risk that they will bite you. However, you should simply turn around if you encounter an aggressive snake that blocks your trail while hiking. This can save you from getting bitten and will ensure that you don’t stress it out or inadvertently harm the snake.

So, How Do You Avoid Snakes While Hiking?

Research local snakes to become familiar with their habits and appearance so you can avoid them while hiking. Avoid piles of leaves and dead brush while hiking because snakes typically hide in them to wait for prey. Keep your eyes on the trail as snakes typically blend into the environment and stay 6 to 10 feet away if you encounter them on the trail.

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