The Fairfax County Park Authority is committed
to strategies which conserve the widest diversity of natural
resources and promote a peaceful coexistence between those
resources and the public. While there are a vital component of
healthy natural systems, few animals elicit stronger reactions or
are more feared and misunderstood than snakes.
Snakes - General Natural History
Snakes play an important role in maintaining
the balance and diversity of native species. they are preyed upon
by larger species and in turn keep rodent and insect populations in
Snakes are cold-blooded reptiles. Their
movements and activities are effected by temperature. they spend
the cool months in hibernation and spend much of the summer under
cover or basking in the sun. Snakes are both active and
opportunistic feeders, taking advantage of the passing or
Snakes' habitat, as for all wildlife, is one in
which they can find suitable food and shelter. They may seek cover
and prey in log piles, rocky outcrops or abandoned burrows. If made
available to them, they may also find shelter in basements, trash
dumps or attics.
How to Discourage and Exclude Snakes from
The following techniques will make your home
and premises less attractive and available for snakes.
Remove favored habitat near the home (wood
piles, high grass, old junk piles or heavy mulching).
Remove favored food sources (improperly stored
feed and trash bins attract rodents).
Check outside around water pipes, electrical
service entrances, doors and windows for small openings. A 1/4
inch hole is large enough for some small snakes to enter.
Seal openings with weather stripping,
caulking, hardware cloth, sheet metal or mortar, depending on the
type of building surface.
Fill in openings around foundations, under
sidewalks or porches with gravel or cement.
Try to make sure snakes are gone before
sealing entry points. Sealing a animal in is inhumane and the
body will emit an unpleasant odor as it decomposes.
Also check with a contractor before sealing
weep holes in mortar. A cross-section of cotton rope may need to
be inserted instead to wick off moisture.
Snakes - Fact or Fiction
You must watch out for Water Moccasins around Fairfax County
streams and lakes.
Fact - There
are no Water Moccasins (so called Cottonmouths) in Fairfax
County. Their northern most range in Virginia ends about 15 miles
south of Richmond. The distinctive and rarely seen Copperhead is
the only venomous species found in our area.
Fiction - A
Copperhead bite is extremely deadly.
Fact - A
copperhead bite can be serious. It is rarely fatal, but prompt
medical attention should be sought.
Snakes are vicious.
Snakes are generally quiet, non-destructive and secretive.
Snakes will chase people.
Snakes usually flee if given the opportunity, but may act
aggressively if cornered.