Most snakes you encounter are harmless, with only a few species of venomous snakes in Georgia. In fact, most snake bites occur when the snake is accidentally handled or touched when walking or climbing. Although most snakes aren’t aggressive and will flee rather than attack, it is still important to be safe when spending time outdoors. Here are some snake safety tips you can use this snake season.
- Walk with a buddy when possible, especially if you’re walking near woods and water sources.
- Don’t step or stick your hands into areas where you can’t see.
- When in the woods, wear closed-toe shoes, preferably over the ankle boots, thick socks, and long, loose-fitting pants.
- Carry a walking stick with you and tap ahead of you while walking into areas where you can’t see.
- Step onto rocks and logs vs over them in case a snake is using them for shelter.
- Avoid walking through dense brush.
- Avoid walking at night, if possible. If you must, carry a flashlight with you.
- Don’t pick up a snake, even if it’s dead. Reflexes can make a snake strike for up to an hour after it dies.
- If you come up on a snake, give it the right of way and slowly move out of its way.
- Educate yourself. Learn the difference between venomous and nonvenomous snakes in your area and how to identify them.
Keeping yourself and your family safe from snakes while spending time outdoors is very important. If you have a problem with snakes or other wildlife, contact your local pest control company for assistance.
Water moccasins, also known as cottonmouths, are one of 6 venomous snake species found in Georgia. These snakes are often mistaken for non-venomous water snakes (which are illegal to kill in the state of Georgia). Water moccasins are found in most areas of Georgia with the exception of the northern central region. While they often sunbathe on land, logs, or stumps found near water sources, they will also inhabit swamps, backwaters, and slow-moving streams.
Water moccasins are large, heavy bodied snakes with dull colors and rough scales. They have a single row of these scales under their tails (while water snakes have a double row). They also have elliptical eye pupils and heat sensing pits between their eyes and nostrils. Most have banding on their bodies with wider bands on the sides that narrow and taper near the top. These bands look like hourglasses when looking at them from above. They also have a dark stripe that runs from the back of their eye to the corner of their jaw which distinguishes them from water snakes and other species.
When agitated, water moccasins will vibrate their tails (similar to a rattlesnake rattle) and gape their mouths open, exposing the white coloration inside (hence the name cottonmouth). While these snakes have gotten a reputation for being aggressive, they are actually more likely to flee when encountered.
Water moccasins prefer to lay on logs and tree limbs near the water’s edge but will move into the water, as well. They can open their mouths and bite underwater, often hunting for frogs while swimming. The way they swim is also a distinguishing factor for these snakes. Water moccasins swim with their bodies riding on the surface of the water and their heads elevated above the water. They don’t typically submerge underwater, although they can. Water snakes will dive underwater when fleeing from a disturbance.
If you encounter a water moccasin in the wild, don’t panic. Stop moving towards them and back away slowly. Steer clear of them as you make your way away from them. Don’t ever attempt to kill or move a venomous snake on your own. If one makes its way into your home, call a professional wildlife control company for proper snake removal and relocation.
To keep water moccasins from lurking around your home, minimize stacks of wood near your house, get rid of standing water, bush piles, and any other moisture prone cover they can use. They also love to eat frogs so keep populations of these reduced around your property. They love wet hiding places with decaying plants or wood. Keep your home and yard clear and dry.
If you have a problem with snakes, contact your local pest control company for assistance.
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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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While It’s true there are plenty of snakes that play a vital role in our ecosystem that we should protect and preserve, there are also venomous species in areas that can pose a serious threat to human life. It’s important to be cautious of these species as they start coming out of hibernation for the summer. Here are a few venomous snakes that are common in our area and how to identify them.
Water moccasins have a triangular head. They are considered to be heavy-bodied and vary in coloration. These snakes can be active both during the day and night but tend to feed in the dark. They are found throughout the entire southeast U.S., typically near cypress swamps, river floodplains, and heavily vegetated wetlands.
Light brown to tan in color, copperheads can be easily recognized by the hourglass-shaped crossbands along their bodies. These snakes can be found throughout the eastern and central U.S., living in a variety of habitats. Copperheads are comfortable in dry, rocky areas, forested areas, or even wetlands. It is even possible to catch copperheads in suburban neighborhoods with patches of forest.
Timber rattlesnakes are considered unique as they are active both day and night. They typically like to hibernate during cold weather but become active in late spring and remain so until late fall. These snakes are big, heavy-bodied, and can grow up to 6 feet in length. They are found in the eastern U.S. where you can spot them residing in forests, mountainous areas, rural habitats in farming areas and even near swamps and river floodplains.
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Eastern diamondbacks are dark brown in color and have a row of diamond shapes patterned on their bodies that are outlined by a yellowish border. Diamondbacks measure 3 to 5 feet but can reach up to 7 feet in length. These venomous snakes are active during the day but are most commonly seen in the mornings and evenings in the summer months. They often inhabit dry sandy areas, pinewoods, coastal dune habitats, and flatwoods. They typically avoid areas that are wet but will live along edges of swamps.
With this information in mind, it’s important to be aware and be cautious of these venomous snakes while outdoors enjoying your summer! Remember, however, to please be conscious that in certain states it is illegal to kill venomous snakes. If you realize you have a snake in or around your house, it’s best to contact a local wildlife control company who can safely remove the offending pest.