Snakes can be good for yards

Published 6:37 pm Monday, July 14, 2008

The scaly friends that people call snakes are coming out of their winter hiding spots to get sun, food and water.

Although these frightful creatures have earned a dangerous reputation, they’re good reptiles to have around your yard.

In Alabama, there are 57 species of non-venomous snakes, and only six species of venomous snakes.

“Most of the time people just get scared when they see a snake, and they instantly want to kill it thinking that it is harmful to them. The fact is that even the venomous snakes are good to have around your home because they help in keeping rodent populations down,” Andy Schertz, supervisor of Animal Programs and Interpretation at the Birmingham Zoo, said.

A snake is a solitary animal, and prefers to be left alone in the wild. If a snake is seen on or around your property then they are most likely following their food source.

Schertz said people call the zoo to ask questions about how to get snakes out of their home or yard, but his most frequent reply is to get rid of rodents, a tasty snake snack, around the home.

“A snake will follow food. If you have a rodent population in or around your home, then you will more than likely have a snake population as well,” Schertz said. “They are important to each other.”

Snakes also serve a purpose to each other and other animals that use snakes as a food source.

Schertz added that there are different kinds of snakes including constrictors who are non-venomous, king snakes, which eat venomous snakes, and venomous snakes.

The Birmingham Zoo offers a snake program that teaches people how to tell snakes apart and what to do if you come in contact with one.

“The best thing that people can do when it comes to snakes is to learn about them. Learn how to tell them apart and learn what each one has to offer,” Schertz said.