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Be Aware, But Not Afraid of Snakes

Spend enough time outside in the summer months, and it is likely you will encounter a snake. Our first impulse is to get away, or perhaps if the snake is near our home, neutralizing the perceived threat by having the snake removed or killed. Our ignorance sometimes causes us to make rash decisions like this, mostly because we cannot identify the snake or its potentiality to be a dangerous reptile.

There are only four types of poisonous snakes in the southeastern U.S.

  • Rattlesnakes
  • Copperheads
  • Cottonmouth Water Moccasins
  • Coral Snakes
Though it is possible to see a non- venomous snake almost anywhere, most people will never encounter a poisonous one in their lifetime. Learning more about snakes can alleviate some of the fear and anxiety people have, and give them an understanding of how snakes are an important part of our natural world. The presence of a snake-- even a venomous one--  is a good sign of a healthy and balanced ecosystem.

Snakes keep the rodent population in check, which in turn helps to stop the spread of disease to humans and other animals. There was a time when having a snake around the house or barn was seen as a good thing, because the old- timers knew the benefits of having them around. Sadly, we have gotten away from many of the old ways of controlling mice, rats, and chipmunks. Instead of barn cats or black snakes, we resort to poisons that can do more harm than good.

 The snake in the picture is a northern water snake--  non- venomous, but will bite like a dog if provoked. These snakes eat fish and frogs, keeping the balance here on Wildcat Creek. This snake, along with black rat snakes, king snakes, and even copperheads, play an important role in keeping the natural world and us in good shape.

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