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Promoting nature-based, toxic-free land care practices for the health of people, their pets, and the planet.

PRFCT Moment: Hibernaculum

“A hibernaculum is a winter refuge for animals. Late last year we built one for snakes, which are important predators of voles and white-footed mice. What do snakes need during hibernation? It’s a time of extreme vulnerability, so they need a place safe from predators where they won’t freeze. We started by creating a tangle of stumps and chunks of wood gathered from the property, making sure there were lots of air pockets for snakes to nestle into. On top, we piled soil we had left over from digging a pond, and covered it all with a layer of compost. For structure, we constructed a frame of sticks, tied them together, and covered everything with more soil, compost, and seeded it with fescue grasses. Inside we dug out a small cave, fitted it with repurposed cement pavers, and placed a warming stone just outside, which will absorb the heat of the sun and provide a snake a spot to soak up the heat. I think of it as a folly, a snake folly. I’m excited to see who will move in later this fall. A garter snake? Or the exquisite and brightly colored, but nonvenomous, milk snake? I’m crossing my fingers and will be on the lookout.” —Edwina von Gal