It’s summer time. This is the time of year folks are getting out and about and spending more time in the country. We all enjoy getting out and taking walks, cycling, hunting and involving ourselves in various pursuits in the wild. Of course, part of the reason we enjoy it so much is the opportunity to interact with the abundant nature in our region. Coming into close contact with nature is a wonderful thing, but also something that should be done with a good sense of what we’re getting ourselves into.
With everyone getting out to enjoy the countryside, now is a good time to refresh folks on one of the species we should wary of as we enjoy our time outside, the snake. Most folks tend to get a bit queasy at the thought of running into a snake. In truth, they shouldn’t be. Snakes are a necessary, and as it turns out, valuable member of our eco-system. Without them, we’d be inundated with rats and various other types of unsavory rodents. Still, snakes should be regarded with care. All snakes can bite and while very few are poisonous, they should all be treated respect, lest you should accidentally threaten one cause it to bite.
There are 42 species of snake in Georgia. Of that number, 36 species are not poisonous. Let me reiterate, NOT poisonous. The odds are much greater that you’ll see a harmless snake than a potentially dangerous one. That being said, let’s give a quick guide on the poisonous snakes of Georgia so you’ll have a rough idea of what to look for when you spot a snake in the wild.
First up, the copperhead.
The Copperhead is a relatively common snake in our area of Georgia and can be found throughout almost all of Georgia. This snake tends to be between 22″-53″ in length. It tends to be copper or almost orange in color with no head markings. On it’s back it has bold reddish-brown crossbands that constrict in the middle of its back much like the shape od an hourglass.
The copperhead likes wooded hillsides with rocky outcroppings, usually near streams or ponds. You will also find them along the edges of swamps and areas that are periodically flooded. They tend to bask during the day in the spring and the fall and tend to become more nocturnal during the heat of the summer.
The primary diet of Copperheads are rodents, lizards, frogs and large insects.
While Copperheads are poisonous and there bites are very painful, they rarely ever pose a serious threat to life.
If you see a Copperhead, please don’t try to handle one, but just because they’re poisonous doesn’t mean they should be shot. These animals are a beautiful addition to the wonderful eco-system in which we all thrive and perform necessary functions for the environment. If you see one, enjoy it (from a safe distance) and move on.
If you’re looking for more information on snakes in our region, here are two excellent sites for you to peruse.
UGA Savannah River Ecology Lab: http://www.uga.edu/srelherp/snakes/index.htm
Southeastern Reptile Rescue: http://snakesareus.com/home
We’ll continue in the coming days on some of the other species of poisonous snakes in our region.