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Hidden Pond Nature Center

[ 8511 Greeley Blvd. ] [ Springfield, VA 22152 ] [ 703-451-9588 ]

Copperhead snake

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 check.

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 "discovered" meal.

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 Your Home

The following techniques will make your home and premises less attractive and available for snakes.

  1. Remove favored habitat near the home (wood piles, high grass, old junk piles or heavy mulching).
  2. Remove favored food sources (improperly stored feed and trash bins attract rodents).
  3. 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.
  4. Seal openings with weather stripping, caulking, hardware cloth, sheet metal or mortar, depending on the type of building surface.
  5. Fill in openings around foundations, under sidewalks or porches with gravel or cement.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Northern CopperheadSnakes - Fact or Fiction

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.

Fiction - Snakes are vicious.

Fact - Snakes are generally quiet, non-destructive and secretive.

Fiction - Snakes will chase people.

Fact - Snakes usually flee if given the opportunity, but may act aggressively if cornered.

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