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Wildlife preps for winter

As the colder months slowly encroach on us in Georgia, Zoo Atlanta’s Herpetology (reptiles and amphibians) Team spends time winterizing the outdoor habitats and moving certain animals to the indoors with warmer environments for the season. While our team is busy ensuring that the animals under our care are receiving precisely what each species needs, our native wildlife is beginning to do the same, but instinctively without our helping hand.

What inspired this Keeper Story was the increased questions and observations we often receive this time of year from our inquisitive guests and colleagues here at Zoo Atlanta. One main comment we get sounds something like this, “Lately, when I am out hiking, I am seeing so many more snakes!” It is always enjoyable listening to the stories of sightings from our honorary community biologists, such as yourselves. It is not uncommon for our team to be shown pictures of reptiles and amphibians from a guest’s recent outdoor adventure and/or maybe getting asked for help identifying a certain animal they have encountered.

The truth is, the number of snakes living near our daily routines haven’t necessarily increased, but that these snakes are just more visible as they are moving in search for food and a suitable hibernaculum (home) for the colder months. But oddly enough, it is not just the increase in activity in our native allies but also in the changes in our own daily activities. As the temperatures get a little more tolerable for us human beings, we often increase our outdoor activities, maybe go on more hikes, or tend to a little more yard work. It ends up being the perfect combination from both the human side and reptile and amphibian side that results in more animal sightings. I may be biased with saying that I love this time of year for that exact reason.

As always, we are advocates of respecting nature and always maintaining safe distances from our native friends. The best thing you can do as honorary community biologists is observe nature from a distance and share those positive experiences with others. Remember that our native wildlife is just trying to make a living and find their own precise environment to live for the colder months ahead. As for the reptiles and amphibians under the Herpetology Team’s care here at Zoo Atlanta, have no worries, they are always in great hands!
Trent Niesen
Lead Keeper, Herpetology

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl