More snakes this year? No it’s just the early warm weather.
As someone who has a wife completely terrified of snakes I’m always on look out for them around the yard. Don’t tell my wife but I see them all the time and I rarely kill them I relocate them. shhhh!
This year though my Facebook and Twitter pages have filled with pictures and comments about all the snakes. You may have even seen this picture from down in Columbia, SC which was of a snake climbing a tree and it was almost 10’ long.
It even has it’s own Twitter account @SlitherSnake
Some of the biggest snakes in the Carolinas are also the most beneficial and least harmful to humans. Their size not only scares you but scares away predators. Two of the most common big snakes you’ll see are the Black Rat Snake(left below) and the Black Racer(right below).
The black rat snake sometimes isn’t even black and can have yellow to green markings on the body depending on the area its in. These are the ones that will climb trees, fence posts and just about anything to reach bird eggs in their nests. The Black Races are fast movers like their name implies and are the ones you most often seen hit by cars. Neither of these snakes are venomous they are actually constrictors and kill their prey by squeezing them.
Some of the most common backyard snakes are the brown snakes(left below) and garter snake( right below). I see the brown ones all the time. They are tiny and usually less than 1 foot long. The one problem with the brown snake is because of it’s tiny pattern and size people often think it’s a baby Copperhead and kill them.
Then there is the large King Snake( not venomous) which is very beneficial because it actually eats and kills venomous snakes. You know those snakes you really don’t want to run into. Below is a picture of a King Snake actually eating a Copperhead.
Which leads me to the most feared snake in the Carolinas which is the Copperhead below. Notice the distinctive large banding pattern and the cooper colored head where it gets it’s name. These are highly venomous with the baby Copperheads as the most poisonous. The juvenile Copperheads have very concentrated venom and have little control on how much they inject when they bit. So they tend to unload it all in one bite.
So what’s the deal with all of the sightings this year?
Pretty simple the warm weather. We had a very early Spring with record-breaking temperatures in March. This allowed for plants and many food sources( bugs/moths) for birds to come out early. This in turned made the nesting season of many species of birds to start early and often in the Carolinas. The snakes on the other hand usually are most active in summer when both the days and nights are warm. Remember they are cold-blooded and need sunlight and warm air to heat their bodies. This year summer like weather started early. So we had a cross-over of the active snake season and bird nesting season. When you have both prey and predators active at the same time you see both more. Then throw in the fact that we all carry cell phones with high quality cameras on them. You then get more people capturing their encounters with snakes on camera and sharing them with the world via Facebook and Twitter.
So while it seems there are more snakes there likely is just more sightings and more sharing of those sightings via Social Media. Throw in the large population of people like my wife who are terrified of snakes and you get the perfect storm. Which reminds me of @SlitherSnake the 10 foot snake seen in Columbia. He’s still missing so be on the look out for him and send me a picture.