In the East Cooper area, there is a big reason to be cautiousssssss when approaching water sources during spring and summer months. The water moccasin is surely one of the fiercest and widely known dangerous snakes to inhabit wetland areas in our region. Though many have developed a healthy fear of these highly venomous snakes, some have taken it into their own hands to control the snake population surrounding their homes to keep their children and pets out of harms way. The issue that arises is that other snakes that are actually beneficial to these homeowners often suffer from misidentification.
In South Carolina, we have 42 species of snakes, however only 6 are actually venomous. Of the 6 venomous snakes, only 2 are most commonly found around watersheds, the Cottonmouth (water moccasin) and the Copperhead. Many of the remaining nonvenomous species of snakes are being eradicated from our neighborhoods by the use of shovels, garden hoes, and other household “weapons”. Rapid development is also eliminating their natural habitats.
Some of the species that suffer from misidentification commonly include King snakes, Garter snakes, Rat snakes, and Racers to name a few. Many of these species inhabit areas of high moisture and are known to take an occasional swim, which is surprising to most people. All of these indigenous species play a crucial role in our environment and food chain by controlling the populations of insects, other reptiles (often venomous snakes), amphibians, and furry critters such as rats and mice. This is why we must all make responsible decisions when dealing with a snake encounter.
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East Cooper Termite and Pest Solutions recommends keeping your distance from all snakes to avoid possible contact with the few venomous types we have. If there is a persistent issue around your home, moth balls or other forms of granular or liquid treatments can be applied to the area as a much safer alternative to approaching an unidentifiable snake. Keeping shrubs trimmed away from your home, grasses mowed (especially surrounding watersheds), garden beds free and clear of debris, and firewood piles off of the ground and away from your home are all ways to prevent snakes from inhabiting areas that surround your home and yard.
Written by Dan Corney