Ask a Naturalist: Why am I seeing so many snakes?

Discovery Place Nature

Black Rat Snake

It is a beautiful time of year in the Piedmont of North Carolina! Birds are singing, flowers blooming and animals are starting to become active, including cold-blooded animals like reptiles, amphibians, insects and more. Many of our resident snakes emerge from their winter hibernacula and begin to feed and to search for a potential mate.

With this emergence, and with the warm weather beckoning all of us to get outdoors, it is inevitable that we may encounter snakes more frequently. When you are out and about, whether hiking, fishing, working in the yard, etc., please be aware of your surroundings and anticipate that there is a potential to encounter snakes.

Snakes are a vital part of our ecosystem and shouldn’t be killed for the sake of killing. Snakes do not want to harm us and only behave defensively, which means if snakes are left alone, they are not a threat to us.

Most of the common snakes in our area are non-venomous, such as the brown snake, black rat snakes, northern water snakes and garter snakes. Occasionally, we may encounter the venomous copperhead, and unfortunately they can be found in many popular activity areas such as parks, trails and backyards. Again, use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

When hiking, make sure you can see the trail and be mindful of where you are walking. When outside gardening, make sure you have a clear area to work and wear gloves. Pets and children often are not as observant and aware. So, adults, please be mindful of where you allow your pets and children play and roam!

Remember, snakes are an important part of our ecosystem and play a vital and necessary role in helping to control the small rodent and mammal populations. They are just another part of nature, but if you’re concerned about snakes, don’t let that concern keep you from getting outside and enjoying spring in the Piedmont!

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  • From the Director

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