Snakes in the summer: how to handle a snake encounter

Snakes in the summer: how to handle a snake encounter

BELVILLE, N.C. (WECT) - Over three dozen snake species are native to North Carolina. Half a dozen of them are venomous and all six can be found here in the Cape Fear.

“We saw the snake lunge,” said Adrianne Bennett. “But it just fell off the back-end. Usually they’re pretty good when they lunge I guess but it just, thankfully, fell off the back-end by the grace of God because my son would have gotten nailed.”

Adrianne Bennett and her son were walking home from their neighborhood pool back in June when they say a Cottonmouth snake lunged toward them. Bennett says it was dusk and the snake was on the ledge of the bridge they were walking on; the bridge is over a marsh in the Highland Shores neighborhood. She says her son was swinging a boogie-board, which she thinks startled the snake, promoting him to attack. Luckily, Bennett says, the snake was large and the weight from the lower half of its body caused it to fall back into the marsh once it lunged for her son. She says it was a terrifying moment.

Bennett says her neighbors have encountered large, venomous snakes recently.

“I try to always look and see,” said Bennett. “I’m very careful when I’m walking on this dock and when I’m walking in the neighborhood.”

Falyn Owens, Wildlife Biologist with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, says snakes don’t see humans as prey and they only seek to harm you if they feel threatened.

“The best response that you could have if you see a snake is just to give it a wide birth,” said Owens. “Even non-venomous snakes are capable of biting. The best way to avoid being bit by snake is not getting close enough to put it in a situation where it feels like it needs to bite.”

Owens says the best way to keep snakes from coming on your property is taking care of your yard.

“You need to move the habitat that attracts them there in the first place,” said Owens. “Keep your lawn mowed. Keep the general area very clean and tidy.”

Owens says if a snake is on your property, the best thing you can do is leave it there.

“If it’s in an area where it really just can’t hang there, like if you have a snake right on your front porch and you need to be out on your front porch in the next few minutes, you can do something like spray it with a water hose to get it to move on under it’s own power.”

The water hose can help keep distance from the snake, which is important especially if you don’t know if it’s venomous or not.

“Anytime you try to handle a snake or kill a snake, that’s a situation where you might end up getting bitten,” said Owens. “So, try the hands-off approach. So, spraying it with water is a way to really annoy it without actually getting close enough, without putting it or yourself in danger of getting bitten.”

With snakes being so prevalent in North Carolina, Owens says it’s a good idea to study the species of snakes and learn about them. That way if you do approach one, you’ll know if it’s venomous or not.

You can learn about the different types of snakes by clicking here.

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