Snakes won’t bite if you leave them alone

Snakes typically stay hidden and out of the way.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Snake bites are reportedly up in the Peach State.  We took a look at the various snakes in our area to make sure that you have a safe summer.

Snakes don’t like being seen.  In fact, we spent most of the day looking for one to get video of to air.  We found one and it slithered away from us.

Phinizy Center for Water Sciences Research Scientist Matt Erickson explained the various species of snakes and whether we’re in real danger in the CSRA.

“All snakes are harmless if you leave them alone,” he said.

It took about ten minutes on the board walk at Reed Park just to find one snake. The creepy crawler, identified as a cottonmouth, made its way through the water, but never attacked.

“The vast majority of snake bites happen when somebody is trying to pick up a snake or they’re trying to kill it,” Erickson said.

While Georgia Poison Control said there’s an increase in reports of snake bites, AU Medical Center has not. Doctors Hospital has treated more bites. And getting to the ER fast is key.

Kevin Lack, Surgical Physician Assistant at Doctors told us how many patients react to a snake bite.

“You will have local swelling. You can get shock like syndrome, fast heart rate, low blood pressure.”

The mild winter in the CSRA didn’t help. Snakes were out earlier than the normal Spring, Summer and Fall period. You can encounter them in wooded areas where they hide and feast on rodents.

“If you’re in an area that has a lot of dense brush, vegetation, you probably have mice or other small animals around that’s probably going to be a place where you have a snake,” said Erickson.

A cottonmouth showed up at Phinizy Swamp two years ago. Out of about 40 snake species in Georgia, it’s one of six that is venomous according to Erickson.

“The ones that you’re most likely to encounter are probably going to be a copperhead, or a cotton mouth and maybe a timber rattlesnake.”

Erickson also said non-venomous snakes will show up in places such as your garden. But the DeKay’s brown snake feeds on slugs which come to harm your garden.

The trick is to learn the species and don’t bother them.

“There have been people who have come in who have stepped on snakes and they bite you. The best thing to do is if you see a snake just go the other way,” Lack told us.

Georgia State law says it’s illegal to kill a non-venomous snake so be careful.  If you want to get rid of a snake, one trick is to spray them with cold water with a water hose.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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