Staying safe with increased snake activity: what to know as you head outside more

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — With the weather warming up, more people will be heading outside to hit the trails. But you won’t be alone.

With the warmer weather, snakes will be out too.

Although North Carolina has 37 different types of snakes, most are non-venomous, according to the North Carolina Wildlife Recourses Commission.

And there are some things you can do to stay safe while being out in environments where snakes are likely to be present.

Dr. Benjamin German, a WakeMed expert on snake bites and injuries, said there are some main things to be aware of: what is around you and one main type of venomous snake to watch out for.

“Copperheads are one of the main venomous snakes here in North Carolina,” German said. “Most snakes are found in even semi-rural areas, including some parks, and “it’s always a good idea to consider [snakes] might be there,” he said.

And right now is the time to start being aware of them: “This time of year is when snakes are starting to become active; If you’re outside, and you feel comfortable—it feels like a nice day—then the snakes feel the same way,” German stated.

And if you’re out on a trail, try to stay away from the edges where the brush and coverage might be: “a lot of times snakes won’t like to sit out in the open,” he said.

And this goes for copperheads as they are ambush predators and prefer to be hidden and coiled up.

Wearing the right type of footwear when you’re out will also help if you do come across a snake.

Boots that go over the ankle can help and offer protection, German stated.

You are also more likely to encounter a snake around your home than out in a park, according to German.

If something “has been there for a while—for the winter, or even it has been there for a few weeks this time of year—you want to be extra careful turning objects over, clearing brush piles, wood piles, especially if they get some leaf litter on them,” German said. “Most of the accidental bites I see from around the home are hand and foot bites.”

And if you do come across a snake, and want to know what type it is, there’s an app to help with that.

Jacob Greenleaf works with SnakeSnap!, which is an app that helps you identify what type of snake you’ve come across.

The app’s development started when the founder discovered a snake in his pool and didn’t know what type of snake it was, according to Greenleaf.

The app works through users taking a photo of a snake, uploading it to the app, and then the experts go to work and will reply back with information on what type it is and other information about the photographed snake.

“Now that spring is in full force, snakes are out in higher numbers, and will continue to be out in higher numbers, so if you’re hiking, or doing yard work, or any activating outside, it’s important to know you have a resource in your pocket to [help] keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe,” Greenleaf said.

It’s a tool that almost anyone can use and can offer useful information if you do ever discover a snake.

Understanding, education, and awareness are key as snakes become more active, and we enjoy getting outside more.

“Always be aware of where you are putting your hands and feet, and the best measure is avoidance,” German shared.

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