As the weather warms up, snakes will emerge to take advantage of the warm weather and kick start their mating season. One of the snakes you’ll start to see this spring is the water moccasin. This venomous snake, also known as the cottonmouth, is a semi-aquatic snake found throughout the southeastern United States. The water moccasin is often mistaken for other snakes, so recognizing this snake in the wild is critical.
Water moccasins have large, triangular shaped heads with large jowls (due to their venom glands). Their eyes have a dark line through them and elliptical-shaped pupils. These snakes are large in size, ranging from 24″ to 48″. They have thick, heavy bodies when compared to their length. Their coloration can vary. These snakes can be completely brown or black (usually adults) or brown or yellow with dark crossbands. Adults tend to be darker while juveniles tend to be more brightly colored. They also have dark brown or yellow blotches on their bellies and black on the underside of their tails.
Water moccasins have facial pits they use to sense heat from predators and prey. They got their cottonmouth alias because the inside of their mouths are white in color. They will gape when they feel threatened, exposing this white color in an attempt to scare the threat away.
These snakes are found throughout the southeast, as far north as Virginia. They can be found in almost any freshwater habitat. They are active both during the day and at night, but will commonly hunt at night, especially during the hotter seasons of the year. They eat a variety of prey, including lizards, amphibians, other snakes, small turtles, birds, fish, mammals, and even baby alligators. They mate in the early summer.
Water moccasins are often mistaken for other nonvenomous water snakes. While the water moccasin has a thick body and short, thick tail, nonvenomous water snakes have more slender bodies and thinner tails. The shape of the head is also important. Water moccasins have large, blocky heads with pronounced necks that are much more narrow than the head. Water snakes, on the other hand, have more slender heads with necks that are more comparable in width to their heads.
While it can be tempting to run away or grab the closest thing you can to kill a snake when you come across it, the best practice is to leave it alone and slowly back away. In the case of a venomous snake, contact your local pest control company who can implement safe snake removal and relocation techniques.
Despite popular belief, not all snakes are harmful to humans. In fact, most snakes will go out of their way to avoid humans when they encounter them. Only a handful of venomous snakes reside in Georgia. One of the most common of these is the water moccasin.
Water moccasins, also known as cottonmouths, is a venomous snake found throughout the southeastern United States. They are known as the cottonmouth because of the white coloring on the inside of their mouths that show when they are threatened. These snakes are usually a banded brown or yellow color. They range in size anywhere from 2 to 4 feet and can swim in the water and slither on land.
The bite of a water moccasin is very dangerous to humans. If you are bitten by a water moccasin, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms following a water moccasin bite include pain, swelling, discoloration, weakness, fatigue, difficulty breathing, nausea, and decreased blood pressure.
Adult water moccasins have control over their venom. Because they have a limited supply, they have learned to conserve it, sometimes biting with a “dry bite” where no venom is released. Although painful, these bites aren’t as dangerous as a venom-filled bite. This is also what makes baby and juvenile water moccasins so dangerous. These young snakes haven’t learned control over their venom yet, therefore injecting their full supply when they bite.
If you encounter a water moccasin or any other snake you can’t positively identify in the wild, steer clear of it and don’t enter it’s personal space. Don’t attempt to move it or kill it. If you come across one of these snakes in your home, contact a professional for safe removal and relocation.
Although most snakes are actually beneficial to have around your home, you can prevent snakes with the following tips:
- Minimize wood stacks around your home. Store firewood away from your house and elevate it off the ground.
- Eliminate standing water around your home.
- Clean up your yard by getting rid of brush piles, logs, rocks, etc. Keep your lawn mowed and shrubbery trimmed back to help reduce hiding places.
- Make your yard less attractive to frogs and other food sources for snakes.
If you encounter a snake, contact a local pest control company who can implement safe and humane snake removal protocols.
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As the season shifts from summer to early fall, cooler weather is around the corner. Many pests begin the hustle and bustle of preparing for winter – scavenging and storing food, finding a place to hibernate, or making their way into your home to overwinter. This time of year sees an increase in one pest in particular – snakes! Fall is a time for high snake activity and encounters with humans become more common.
There are many reasons snake control is important in the fall. As the leaves begin to change colors to red, orange, and brown and fall to the ground, they provide the ideal camouflage for snakes. Fall is also the time snakes begin to prepare for brumation and/or hibernation. Most snake species breed in the spring and eggs are hatched by the time autumn rolls around. These juvenile snakes are curious and more likely to be seen by humans. There are 6 venomous snake species in the southeastern United States and each of them actually breed in the fall. This means this time of year males will be actively seeking females to breed with, increasing your chance of an encounter with them. Overdevelopment in many areas has also depleted the natural habitats of many snakes, also increasing their chances of encounters with humans.
Because we see such an increase in snake activity during the fall, snake control becomes much more important. Here are some of our favorite snake prevention tips you can utilize this snake season.
- Familiarize Yourself. Identifying snakes is critical to avoiding and preventing them. Do some research and find out which snakes are common in your area, what they look like, and where to find them. Identify any areas you spend time in outdoors that could potentially house snakes and try to avoid them.
- Be Aware. Be aware of your surrounding when spending time outdoors. Look down when walking and check overhead when in wooded areas. Try to spot snakes before you walk right up on them.
- Avoid Habitats. Snakes like to hide in areas that provide them protection and coverage from predators. They can often be found in tall grass, overgrowth, on or under large rocks, rock piles, and wood piles. If you have to walk through these areas, keep your feet and legs protected, keep your eyes open
- Walk With Confidence. Snakes don’t have ears so they can’t actually hear you coming but they do respond to vibrations in the ground and can feel you coming before they actually see you. When walking outdoors walk with strong, confident steps and make your presence known.
- Cover Up. If you choose to spend time outdoors, make sure to wear closed-toe shoes and long pants if possible. Try to avoid sandals and flip flops as they leave your feet and toes exposed to potential snakebites.
- Look Up. Some types of snakes can actually climb trees and will even use overlapping branches to move from tree to tree without ever touching the ground. When walking or boating through wooded areas make sure to look up and keep an eye out for overhead snakes.
- Clean Up. Making your home and yard less inviting to snakes will help keep them from coming in. Seal any cracks and crevices on the outside of your home to keep snakes out in search of warmth and food. Remove any debris and clutter from your yard and garage. Keep woodpiles elevated and stored away from your home. Clear any overgrowth from your yard.
- Use snake repellent. There are many commercial snake repellent products on the market today. If you prefer a more green snake control option, there are also natural snake repellents you can make at home. Choose whichever option works best for you.
- Call the Pros. Snake control can be a daunting task. If you have a problem with snakes around your home, contact your local pest control company who can help identify what type of snake you are dealing with and help safely and humanely get them away from your property.
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As the weather cools off and fall peeks around the corner, many people are taking advantage of the milder weather and spending more time outside. Unfortunately, many pests and wildlife, including snakes, are also enjoying the milder weather, preparing for the impending winter. Although most snakes encountered in Georgia are nonvenomous, there are a few species of venomous snakes to keep an eye out for. These include the copperhead, the timber rattlesnake, the cottonmouth, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the eastern coral snake, and the pigmy rattlesnake.
When spending time outdoors, keep an eye out for snakes in backyards, parks, and areas near the woods. They also like to frequent areas that border streams, lakes, swamps, and ponds. Snake season begins in the spring, usually March to April. Snake season doesn’t end until late fall or even winter, depending on weather patterns and where you’re located. Snakes in the southern states will stay active much longer than up north where the cold sets in sooner.
If you run into a snake, keep these tips in mind:
- Familiarize yourself with the venomous snake species common in your area and how to recognize them.
- Try to identify the snake without getting too close to it.
- Give the snake space.
- If spending time outdoors, wear closed-toed shoes and long pants.
- Remove any brush, log piles and other attractants for rodents from around your home.
- Seal up any cracks, gaps, and holes that snakes can use to get into.
- Remember that non-venomous snakes are protected by law in Georgia.
Because snake season hasn’t quite ended yet, it’s still important to take precautions when spending time outdoors. It’s best to leave snake removal to the professionals, especially if you aren’t sure what type of snake you’re dealing with. If you have a problem with snakes or any other pests, contact your local pest control company for proper identification and safe elimination of the offending creature.
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As the weather continues to warm up, snakes start to become more active and on the move in search of food. Most homeowners can agree that they fear finding snakes in the yard. But while most of us don’t want snakes hanging out on our property, it’s important to note that these wildlife creatures are beneficial to have around as they can get rid of other pests infesting your property. Instead of eliminating these creatures, every homeowner can take simple preventative measures to encourage them to find a different location to habitat.
Clean the Yard!
Ensuring that your yard is well-kept up is one of the easiest and simple ways to deter snakes from your property. Debris and leaf piles are a huge attractant to rodents which will then attract snakes. The leaf piles are additionally a great place for snakes to hide out in. Make sure you are cleaning up any debris piles, including sticks, brush, and tree limbs from your yard.
Overgrown trees and shrubs provide cover and shelter for snakes. Make sure that you are trimming your overgrown trees and shrubs, so they are not touching the house or garage. Don’t forget to trim the branches off the ground so there is at least 24” to 36” space underneath. This helps eliminate a place for snakes to take cover, but also makes them easier to spot.
Remove Attractant Items!
You might not be aware, but certain items are placed in your yard that could be attracting snakes. While many love to have decorative birdhouses and bird feeders in the yard, they can attract snakes. Some snakes are great climbers and will climb up to feast on the birds feeding on the feeders or living in the birdhouse. Consider placing the birdhouse or feeder on a metal pole or wood post, with the post wrapped in metal sheeting.
A perch pole is a great alternative to help keep snakes away from the property. Owls or hawks are natural predators to snakes and will use the installed perch pole. Make sure that the pole is in an open area in your yard, so the birds can have a good view of the entire area.
Though, sometimes it’s just best to install fencing to help keep snakes out. If you decide to install fencing, make sure that it’s buried a few inches into the ground and should be made up of ¼” or smaller rigid mesh. At the top of the fence, make sure that it bends to keep snakes from climbing over it.
If you’ve tried all the prevention tips you can to deter snakes away from your yard but it’s not working, it might be time to call your local wildlife control company. These professionals can help establish a regularly scheduled service and treatment plan to help with your snake problem.