Snakes start slithering

Published 7:56 pm Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A lot of good things become commonplace during the summer, such as swimming pools, watermelons, even Chilton County’s famous peaches.

However, Alabama’s poisonous snakes are not one of them.

The reptiles come out of hibernation in spring and can be seen slithering about through early fall.

But county extension agents say not to worry about seeing a snake in your yard … because it likely won’t be there for long.

“A snake crossing your yard is not a cause for concern,” said Patrick Cook, with the Chilton County Extension Office. “When you go back, it won’t likely even be there.”

Cook said snakes bite for two reasons: to kill prey and when under attack.

“Obviously, they’re not biting you to eat you,” Cook said. “In fact, snakes are one of the most docile creatures I’ve ever worked with. They don’t bite you unless they have to.”

Cook’s best advice about snakes makes a lot of common sense: “Stay away and look where you step, especially in a weedy area.”

Most snakebites result in people confronting the snake, rather than just leaving it alone.

“Trying to kill the snakes puts you at more harm,” Cook said. “Most people are bitten because they either try to catch or kill the snake.”

Cook also advised to keep yards and lawns free of brush and other debris.

“Cleaning up those areas will help keep snakes from crossing yards,” he said.

There are four kinds of poisonous snakes in Alabama: copperheads, several types of rattlesnakes, cottonmouths/water moccasins and coral snakes.

As a rule of thumb, poisonous snakes have triangular-shaped heads, while other non-venomous snakes have more round heads, Cook said.