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Dog days of summer result in increased snake spotting

A Copperhead hides among some terra cotta pots trying to avoid the heat. If you garden and plan to be outside this weekend, keep your eyes peeled for snakes trying to cool off. (File Photo)

STATE OUTDOOR NEWS — Contrary to popular belief, snakes really aren’t all that fond of hot, dry weather. On days when the temperatures creep above 90, our cold-blooded friends slither into whatever cool, shaded space they can find. Add to that, the fact that snakes mate in early summer so their eggs hatch in late summer months and August suddenly becomes prime accidental snake run-in season in Moore County.

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself, your kids, and your pets from an accidental bite:

1 | Look twice in tall grass. When the temperature goes north, snakes head into tall grasses where they can hide from the sun’s direct heat. If you must be in grassy areas, wear rubber boots and watch where you step. Now is also the worst time to let your yard get out of hand. Keep lawns trimmed to avoid uninvited guests.

2 | Check garages, deck, and porches. Snake love to crawl into any cool, dark space in and around your home that reproduces the look and feel of a cave. You can avoid an accidental bite by keeping debris and wood piles away from your home and block off underneath porches and deck to prevent snakes from hiding underneath.

3 | Avoid lifting objects off the ground without protection. Snakes like to hide under large rocks, overturned flower pots, grill lids, and other items we tend to leave laying around. If you must lift an object, use a pole and lift it toward you so that the object is between you and the snake. It’s the best way to avoid an accidental strike.

4 | No need to be quiet. As the old saying goes, “A snake is more scared of you than you are of it.” If you have to work outside in your yard or on the farm, make some noise and create a ruckus. Snakes don’t hear well but they pick up on vibrations. If you make noise, they’ll likely move away from you on their own.

5 | Don’t panic. Yes, Tennessee is home to four venomous snakes species including Timber Rattlesnakes, Pygmy Rattlesnakes, Cottonmouths, and Copperheads but there’s not need to panic if you encounter one. Just slowly move away. Don’t try to pick up or relocate the snake just give it some space and wait for it to leave. Unless you offer them water and a never-ending food source like mice, they aren’t likely to hang around.

6 | Use peppermint oil. Snakes smell with their tongues, which are around 10,000 time more sensitive that our own nose and taste buds. And they hate peppermint. Buy some peppermint oil or Vick’s Vapor Rub and rub it along door jams and windows to discourage and unwanted houseguests.

It’s also important to remember that despite the fact that they give you the heebie jeebies, snakes are beneficial to the environment. They eat unwanted, disease prone rodents and serve to keep the population of unwanted garden-munching pests like grasshoppers in check. Some species, like timber rattlesnakes, can eat up to 4,000 ticks a summer. Also non-venomous species like King Snakes actually kill poisonous snakes.

If you see a snake and need help identifying it, there’s a cool Facebook Group called Tennessee Snake Identification and Information. They often post pictures from southern, middle Tennessee and their admins and followers are great at helping you determine if your slithery friend is a no-big-deal nuisance or a poisonous problem. You can check them out by clicking here.

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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