Well, not exactly, but there could be more encounters with county’s slithery friends due to a mild winter, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
While the public may think there’s been an increase in snakes due to more sightings, John Jenson, senior wildlife biologist with DNR said that’s not the case.
Reasons for the rise in sightings likely include snakes being more active during mild winters, people being outdoors more because of the warmer weather, and development adding roads, homes and businesses in wooded and other areas where snakes live, according to the GDNR press release.
“It’s putting people in closer encounters with snakes,” said Jensen, who works with the Non-game Conservation Section of DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division.
Thomas Floyd, DNR biologist explained that there were two factors that could explain why more snakes are showing up. He said that droughts could have snakes on the move and more news coverage of snakes could skew the public’s perception.
“The abundance hasn’t increased,” Floyd said. “People are just encountering them more often.”
In Gordon County, according to Jensen, out of the 25 different species of snakes that prowl the area, only two are poisonous.
“The copperhead, which are very common, and Timber rattlesnakes can be found in Gordon County; both are venomous,” explained Jenson. “The Timber rattlesnakes are more shy around people and public areas. They tend to be very fond of rural areas.”
Also, both types of snakes can be found in rocky areas.
“They localize in areas in rocky areas, because that’s where they hibernate,” said Jensen. “They occur in any place that’s suitable for kind of wildlife. They’re not going to be in a parking lot or downtown areas or anything like that.”
Jensen advises the Gordon County community to simply walk away from a snake, if one becomes encountered with one.
“Walk away; it won’t chase you,” said Jensen. “Most people get in trouble because they think they need to move or kill the snake, which gets the person too close to a potential venomous snake.”
Jensen said that if someone does come in contact with a snake and are bitten, then they should go to the hospital for treatment, but not to panic.
“No snake found in Gordon County will kill you immediately,” said Jensen. “As long as you get to the hospital within an hour, you’ll be fine.”
According to the DNR press release, there are tips that people should follow if a snake is spotted.
Try to identify it from a distance. Georgia has 43 native species, and only six are venomous. It is illegal to possess or kill most non-game species, including all non-venomous snakes.
Do not attempt to handle the snake. Give it the space it needs.
Remember that snakes are predators that feed on rodents, insects and even other snakes. Most species in Georgia are harmless. There is no need to fear non-venomous snakes.
If a clearly identified venomous snake is in an area where it represents a danger to children or pets, consider contacting DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division for a list of private wildlife removalspecialists. Most snake bites occur when a snake is cornered or captured, prompting the animal to defend itself, according to the press release.
Non-venomous snakes such as the scarlet kingsnake and eastern hognose are sometimes confused with their venomous counterparts. Venomous snakes are often identified by their broad, triangular-shaped heads. Yet, many non-venomous snakes flatten and broaden their heads when threatened and may have color patterns similar to those of venomous species. Use caution around any unidentified snake, said the press release.
You can reduce the potential for snakes near your home by removing brush, log piles and other habitat that attracts mice, lizards and other animals on which snakes prey.
For more on Georgia’s snakes, go to www.georgiawildlife.org/georgiasnakes.