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Snake season? The reptiles can be out all year, but are more active in warmer months -- stay alert

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As the weather warms up in North Carolina, snakes become a larger concern, especially copperheads, according to extension wildlife biologist Falyn Owens of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

Chad Griffin, a herpetologist who owns Kernersville Reptile Zoo and Medical Center, explained that “snake season” is mostly a myth. He said that snakes can be out all year long, although they may be more active during the spring, early summer, and late summer. In the middle of summer, they tend to be most active in the early morning and at dusk when it is not so hot.

Owens and Griffin said snakes are more active in warmer weather because they are heating their bodies in the sun, hunting food, or seeking a mate. As Griffin said, they may choose to sunbathe in someone’s yard or on their window, which is how people may come across snakes near their homes.

Griffin said people rarely see cottonmouth or timber rattlesnakes, two types of venomous snakes, in the Triad, but they can be found in the forests and outskirts of the Triad.

The venomous copperheads, however, can be found in Winston-Salem, Owens said.

“Copperheads have a distinctive ‘Hershey Kiss’ pattern of upright, brown triangles in a line on a lighter tan/pink background,” Owens said, explaining that this distinguishes copperheads from other species of snakes.

Griffin elaborated that copperheads can range from an off gray-brown color to a heavy copper. He agreed that their pattern tends to look like a Hershey Kiss from the side, but added that from above, it can look like an hourglass.

People are advised to leave snakes alone if they see then, and not to catch or kill one if they are bitten, Owens said. Instead, they should seek immediate medical assistance or call Poison Control.

Griffin explained that snakes don’t go out of their way to attack someone. Instead, people are bitten most often when they touch or attack the snake first. He said that a snake attacking a human would be like a person going to a zoo and punching a rhino.

“When given the option to escape, snakes will avoid close encounters with people,” Owens said.

Owens stressed that people should be aware of their surroundings and not get too close to a snake if they come across one. Unless the situation requires it, like a snake being inside a house, Griffin said that people should not confront them.


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