Copperheads spotted early in the Triangle due to the wet weather

Pets and Animals

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – It’s still winter, but some Copperheads have already been spotted in Umstead State Park in Raleigh.

Our winter has been wet and wet weather can drive snakes out of their homes if threatened with flooding.

Falyn Owens of the North Carolina Wildlife Commission says, “I think most snakes find someplace that’s not prone to flooding to stay in for the winter, but theoretically, if a snakes wintering habitat did flood, then they would move out and find higher ground .”

There hasn’t been widespread flooding, despite our soggy weather, so I asked Owens if there was anything unusual with snakes being spotted this February. 

“It’s unusual in general, but we have had a string of warm days and that is really going to be the best opportunity for snakes to get a little bit more active,” Owens said.

Snakes normally become active when temperatures start to rise and this usually happens in mid to late March according to Owens.  “Once you start to see temperatures above, say, 65 degrees in the daytime, and then 40s at nighttime for a long stretch of days; that’s when snakes are going to wake up and start doing what they do in the spring.”

North Carolina has 37 species of snakes, with only six of them venomous.  A lot of people are afraid of snakes and are especially concerned about Copperheads.  “They are the most common venomous snake in North Carolina, say if you were to come across a venomous snake, chances are it’s going to be a Copperhead,” according to Owens.

The best bit of advice?  If you come across a venomous snake, keep your distance and know it’s preferred habitats.  Snakes like hanging around in low growing vegetation and crevices, close to a food source…including compost piles.  If you have a compost pile in your yard and other favored habitats, Owens says, “Make sure that habitat is a little bit further away from your house, maybe on the edge of your property. So, that you can invite wildlife onto your property, but not right up close to your house.”

So, always be aware of your surroundings, especially as more of us get outdoors and temperatures start warming up.  

For more on snakes in North Carolina, visit ncwildlife.org.

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