Written for the Flagler Humane Society
Well, of course you are. It’s smart to be wary of poisonous-fanged monsters, right?
And right now, the little devils seem to be all over the place!
Where’d they come from? Where are they all going?
The next time you see one and scream out like a frightened child, remember this…
Only six of Florida’s 46 native snake species are venomous (University of Florida, Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation). These include the Eastern Coralsnake, the Southern Copperhead, the Cottonmouth (or Water Moccasin), the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, the Timber Rattlesnake, and the Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake.
The rest of them are non-poisonous and all of them are extremely beneficial and vital to the ecology!
If you can tip toe past your terror, you might discover that some of them can be rather cute in their big-eyed, lizard-face way like the Red Cornsnake and the Black Racer. The Red Cornsnake is so cute and has such a docile nature that it has become a popular pet in many households. Black Racers tend to be shy if they are not attacked or threatened and the ones that frequent my yard amuse me with their raised-head patrols, reminding me more of a cartoon character than anything villainous.
Often, the venomous ones have oversized heads but this is not a hard and fast rule. Take the Coralsnake, for instance. However, if you don’t learn to recognize the individual species, it is a reasonable rule-of-thumb approach.
If you understand which ones are poisonous then you also understand which ones aren’t, eliminating those blood-curdling screams when you encounter one.
Here’s what’s important: leave them alone. They are essential to our ecosystem.
“But I don’t like snakes in my yard.”
Well, then, here are some strategies to keep snake activity down on your property.
Eliminate hiding places that are attractive to these reptiles, firewood piles being a prime example. Clutter, junk, stacks of bricks or pavers all create pleasant environments, especially stone that heats up in the sun. Eliminate food sources such as rotting produce or vegetation which promote bugs and small animals which, in turn, attract the snakes. Keep the grass cut so it’s not too tall and trim your bushes at ground level so there is ample open space between the ground and the foliage. If there are no hiding places, then they can’t hide.
“Sure, okay, but there’s a snake right there right now sunning itself alongside the barbeque.”
Put on some boots and grab the hose. Snakes hate to be sprayed in the face and will typically retreat in a hurry.
Please do not harm these creatures. They eat rodents, insects, and other reptiles and they neither care about you nor mean you harm.
© Copyright 2020 Flagler Humane Society
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