Sleeping in a tent is a unique experience, but could a fear of snakes keep you from truly enjoying it?
Although it is technically possible for a snake to bite through a tent, it’s incredibly unlikely. Snakes are much more likely to run and hide than to attempt attacking a person through a tent. Instead of focusing on this fear, it’s a good idea to work on keeping snakes out of the campsite altogether.
That said, there is a lot to learn about making sure you stay safe from snakes while camping. Continue on to learn about how to keep snakes out of your campsite, common snake myths and more!
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Is It Possible For a Snake to Bite Through a Tent?
While technically it is possible, it is extremely unlikely that a snake would attempt to bite you through a tent. For the most part, snakes want to stay far away from people and would prefer to slither away rather than try to attack.
If they did try, their fangs could potentially get through the tent material. However, they may also end up getting stuck. It wouldn’t be a particularly effective means for biting someone inside. Additionally, snakes aren’t interested in hunting you down when you’re out of sight.
In my own research for writing on this topic, it’s worth stating that I found no instances of snakes trying to bite campers through a tent. For those concerned about the possibility of any animal attacking a tent, it’s a good idea to take a look at our article on the subject here!
Personally, I’ve spent a decent amount of time camping in areas that are home to rattlesnakes, scorpions and other critters. For over twenty years I’ve slept in a tent in these areas and never had a problem with snakes anywhere near me.
That said, if you’re staying somewhere out in the wilderness on your own, it never hurts to be more cautious. You never know when they might come seeking warmth in your tent or sleeping bag.
There’s absolutely more of a concern for snakes getting into your tent than biting you through it. Because of that, you’ll want to be careful to keep your tent completely closed at all times, and check your tent and sleeping bag before tucking in for the night.
Can Snakes Get Into Tents?
Snakes are capable of getting inside your tent and there are news events detailing this happening. You can mitigate the risk of snakes getting in your tent by ensuring that the tent is completely closed whenever you are not using it.
I have this thing about keeping cupboard doors closed–although I do this because I find that my head will ram into them if I don’t, and not because of snakes. This same instinct can help you against the slim chance that a snake wants to bed down with you in your tent.
Snakes will stay away from humans if they can–but if you set up your tent near a snake’s nest or burrow then your chances of this happening go higher.
One habit that will protect you from snakes in your tent is to just ensure your tent has all entrances closed when you are in or out of the tent. If nothing else, it’s a good habit to protect yourself from the inevitable feast that the mosquitos will have that are trapped inside your tent.
Is There Such A Thing As A Snake Proof Tent?
Tents are not generally designed to be snake-proof. However, modern tents are made to be bug proof, which means that all vents have a mesh covering so as to allow air into the tent but to keep bugs out. A tent being bugproof essentially is being snake-proof as well.
The thin nylon/otherwise synthetic wall of modern tents is more than enough to keep out snakes (unless we’re talking about the Amazon jungle here or Australia).
A canvas tent (see more details on canvas tents, here) has a thicker wall and is definitely even more of a solid barrier between nature and a cozy place to sleep. However, the canvas tent has to have an attached floor.
Most modern tents have an attached floor, but tarps and some canvas tents do not. Make sure your tent has an attached floor and that you close all entrances to your tent and you should be protected against any snakes getting into your tent.
How Do I Keep Snakes Away From My Campsite?
If you want snakes to stay away from your campsite, you have a number of options at your disposal for making that happen.
Keep these tips in mind while you’re planning for a camping trip in an area that is home to snakes:
- Consider where you’re camping. Those who are car camping, or camping in campgrounds that are more human-populated, are less likely to deal with snakes. Additionally, snakes like to hang out where they can easily hide, such as around fallen logs, rocks or other piles of debris. Stay in a campsite away from these things to avoid snakes.
- Avoid creating places where snakes can hide. Make sure to keep your supplies off the ground as much as you can. The fewer hiding spots there are, the less likely it is that a snake will find it a tempting place.
- If you’re staying in a tent, make sure that it’s fully closed at all times. Keep the zippers completely zipped up so that no snakes or other critters can get in. You may also choose to use a cot in your tent to help with staying away from critters on the ground. Take a look at our guide on using a cot without damaging your tent here!
- Keep all of your food packed away in containers that are airtight. While the snakes themselves may not be interested in your meals, they are definitely interested in making a meal out of the critters who may be enticed by your food. Additionally, this can help to avoid problems with larger animals who may want your food, such as bears. If you plan on keeping food or other scented items in your car, you may also want to check out our article on whether or not a bear can break a car window!
- Stay aware while walking, whether it’s around your campsite or on a hiking trail. Look for movement on the ground and listen for rattling. Rattlesnakes, in particular, will often make a noise to warn you away.
- Don’t forget to check your shoes when you haven’t been wearing them for a while. Snakes and bugs may choose to hide in them, especially if they’ve been outside. You can also use shoes as a storage space for socks to keep critters out.
- No matter how safe you are, it pays to bring a first aid kit. You never know when it may save your life!
Myths About Snakes While Camping
Myths exist for nearly every aspect of the natural world. It’s not always clear why the myths exist, but it’s very important to know which myths have true aspects and which are completely false.
Having a greater understanding of the myths that surround snakes can help you to avoid them, or at least be safer around them! Keep the following myths and truths in mind for your next camping trip!
An Angry Snake Will Chase You
Think about nearly any horror or thriller movie you’ve seen. When the villain suddenly pops out, the victim’s instinct is to run away. This is true regardless of the size of the villain, but especially true if it’s a huge monster or animal on the prowl.
The same concept is true for snakes. If at all possible, they want to slither away to safety before doing anything else. The vast majority of the time, a snake you startle will try to get away rather than attack.
Typically, a snake will only attack if they feel that they cannot escape. For example, if you’re walking along a trail and accidentally step on a snake, they may turn and bite as a means of getting you off them so they can escape.
That said, there are a handful of snakes that may give chase. These include snakes like the bushmaster of Central America. However, the vast majority of snakes, especially in America, will seek to escape rather than attack or chase.
Rattlesnakes Will Always Rattle Before Biting
While rattlesnakes will often rattle as a defense mechanism, there’s something very important to keep in mind about these snakes. When rattlesnakes began to develop rattles, it wasn’t for the sake of warning humans.
Instead, the rattles were intended to keep larger animals like horses, cattle and bison from stepping on them. Because snakes detect those coming towards them using the vibrations in the ground, it can be difficult for them to locate a human coming towards them. They are used to feeling for the vibrations of animals that might weigh 800lbs or more, so trying to detect a human under 200lbs isn’t as likely.
This concept is doubly true for children that are under 100lbs. The snakes may not sense their vibrations quickly enough, and the child has stepped on them or gotten to close without either side noticing quickly enough.
Because of this fact, it’s important to watch where you and your children are walking very carefully. Don’t expect a rattlesnake to always sound its presence before lunging.
You’re Safe From Snake Bites Underwater
It’s natural to think that since we are slowed by water, the power of a snake’s lunge would be as well. However, that doesn’t mean that we are completely safe, especially in areas that are home to snakes who frequently hunt underwater.
Some types of snakes may be less comfortable than others in the water, but all snakes are capable of swimming. There are many who may just use the water as a means to get away or get where they are going. Not all snakes hunt underwater or can hold their breath for as long.
However, there are plenty of snakes that are perfectly comfortable in the water. Species like the Copperhead regularly hunt for fish and other underwater creatures. As you can imagine, their bite is relatively unaffected by being underwater.
Knowing this, it’s worthwhile to consider what kinds of snakes spend time around the water you want to swim in. Additionally, always keep a lookout for snakes in the water.
Baby Snakes Have The Most Venom
It’s uncertain why this is such a prominent myth, but it’s one that is largely untrue. Snakes that are older and larger typically have venom that is more potent, or at least on par with the babies. This can vary somewhat depending on the species, but is generally the case.
Additionally, larger snakes have a greater amount of venom to make use of. That means that more venom will be delivered to prey or attackers with each bite. On the other hand, the amount is quite limited for babies.
The one aspect that might result in babies being seen as more dangerous lies within their lack of experience. Baby snakes will be more likely to bite right away and try to deliver as much venom as they can. On the other hand, adults with more experience understand the need to ration venom. Instead of biting immediately, they will often try to intimidate or escape.
Generally speaking, it’s more likely that you’ll be bitten by a younger snake than an older one. However, it’s important to be very careful regardless of snake you’re dealing with!