AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – As the summer temperatures rise, you could be seeing more snakes slithering through your backyards or gardens.
Georgia game wardens say the best thing to do if you come across a snake is to leave it alone, but if it bites you, that could turn into a different problem.
“If they catch you in a good spot, it could be a little painful,” said Meg Francoeur.
Francoeur is a member of the C.S.R.A. free snake relocation and education group. She owns nearly 30 snakes and knows firsthand what it’s like to be bitten by a non-poisonous one.
“Most non-venomous snakes have small teeth, so it’s kind of like being scratched by Velcro. You may bleed a little bit,” said Francoeur.
She says a little soap and water can treat a non-venomous snake bite, but that’s not the case for a more lethal bite.
“As far as a venomous snake bite, you’ll feel that venom kind of entering into your body. It’s kind of like a really bad bee sting,” said Game Management Regional Supervisor Lee Taylor at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
During the summer months, you’ll see many posts on social media asking to identify dangerous and harmless snakes. Taylor says it’ll all about educating yourself.
“The triangular-shaped head, a venomous snake, versus the more rounded head on a non-venomous. The only problem with that is some water snakes, when they get startled they can kind of flatten out their head so they’ll look like a venomous snake,” said Taylor.
You can also tell by looking at their color pattern — the safest way to identify them — or by their eyes. If the pupils are round, it’s non-venomous. Vertical or cat-eyed snakes are venomous.
But, Taylor says you really shouldn’t get close enough to the reptile to tell.
“If you can’t tell by the color pattern, then I suggest you just leave it alone,” said Taylor.
Some people’s first instinct when they see a snake is to kill it, but that’s actually a crime if the snake is harmless.
“It’s punishable by I think a $1,000 fine and possible jail time,” said Francoeur. “South Carolina’s law is a little more lax, you can not kill any snake on public land.”
She and Taylor both say the best thing to do if you see a snake is to leave it alone because they do benefit the environment.
“Since you have only say four venomous species that you really have to worry about, that you might be seeing fairly often, if you can learn to identify those species, then everything else will be fairly safe,” said Francoeur.
For more information and resources on snakes, visit georgiawildlife.com.