•    Will eat your birds
  •     Eat eggs from Chickens 
  •     Will get into house looking for mice including crawlspaces
  •     Some are venomous
  •     Get into goldfish and coy ponds

Thirty-seven snake species are recorded from NorthCarolina (Palmer and Braswell 1995, Conant and Collins 1998), but only six are venomous and potentially dangerous to humans and livestock. Five venomous species are pit vipers (members of the snake subfamily Crotalinae within the family Viperidae), characterized by having a heat sensitive pit located between (and slightly below) the eye and nostril and long, movable fangs in the front of the upper jaws. In North Carolina, pit vipers include the Copperhead, the Cottonmouth, and three species of rattlesnake. The sixth venomous species, the Eastern Coral Snake, is a member of the snake family Elapidae, a family containing some of the world’s most dangerous snakes. Coral snakes have short, permanently erect fangs in the front of the upper jaws, and bright red, yellow, and black rings that encircle the body. Venomous snakes are generally abroad both day and night, except for the coral snake, which is apparently active at the surface only during the daytime. During the hot summer months, snakes are active most often in early morning, late afternoon, or at night. Snakes can be discouraged from living near dwellings by removing the cover under which they might seek shelter and food. Scrap sheet metal, lumber, boards, woodpiles, and similar debris sometimes attract both snakes and the small animals upon which they feed. Raising materials off the ground promotes dryer storage and attracts fewer critters.

The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake and the Eastern Coral Snake were added to North Carolina’s State List of Endangered Species in 2001. The Timber Rattlesnake and Pigmy Rattlesnake are State-listed Species of Special Concern. Loss of habitat and declining populations justified the protected status of these species. Official listing provides protection under North Carolina’s Endangered Wildlife Law. Legal protection does not infringe on landowner rights or on the rights of persons to defend themselves. It does protect these species from commercial harvest and unnecessary killing, while it encourages habitat conservation and public awareness of species survival status. Legal restrictions that protect sensitive populations serve to protect humans, too. Populations that require very specific habitat conditions often are the first to decline because of environmental problems. These species may be our best indicators of environmental change that could be detrimental to humans.

Wild Populations

Throughout the range of a species, different populations may vary significantly in physical and behavioral characteristics. Introduction of alien animals, even animals of the same species, into established populations can therefore be quite harmful. Introduced animals may harbor disease organisms that can devastate native populations. Novel genetic material introduced into a population adapted to a specific environment is more likely to harm the gene pool than to strengthen it. And many released captives are ill-equipped to survive in an alien environment.

Please respect the health of wild populations. A population’s well-being is far more important to a species’ survival than is the life of an individual specimen. Captive animals should be released only in the area from which they were collected, and sick individuals should never be released.

Venomous snakes leave one or two puncture wounds.

If bitten by a snake, you SHOULD:

  • Sit down and stay calm.
  • Gently wash the area with warm, soapy water.
  • Remove any jewelry or tight clothing near the bite site.
  • Keep the bitten area still, if possible, and raise it to heart level.
  • Call the Carolinas Poison Center:  1-800-222-1222.

If bitten by a snake, you SHOULD NOT:

  • Cut the bitten area to try to drain the venom.  This can worsen the injury.
  • Ice the area.  Icing causes additional tissue damage.
  • Make and apply a tourniquet or any tight bandage.  It’s better for the venom to flow through the body than for it to stay in one area.
  • Suck or use a suction device to remove the venom.
  • Attempt to catch or kill the snake.

If a snakebite victim is having chest pain, difficulty breathing, face swelling, or has lost consciousness, call 911 immediately.

Call Carolinas Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for questions about a snake bite or for more information.


Next Steps…

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