Few animals elicit stronger reactions or are more feared and misunderstood than snakes. They are a vital component of healthy, natural systems.
Snakes - General Information
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. Temperature affects their movements and activities. They spend cool months in hibernation and much of the summer under cover or basking in sunlight. Snakes are both active and opportunistic feeders, taking advantage of a passing or discovered meal. Their 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, on rocky outcrops, or in abandoned burrows. If available, they may shelter in basements, trash dumps or attics.
How to Discourage and Exclude Snakes from Your Home
These techniques will make your home less attractive to snakes.
- Remove their favored habitats from near the home (wood piles, high grass, old junk piles or thick mulch).
- Remove favored food sources, such as improperly stored feed and trash bins that attract rodents.
- Check 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 openings around foundations, under sidewalks or porches with gravel or cement.
Make sure snakes are gone before sealing entry points. Sealing an animal in is inhumane, and you won't like the odor from decomposition.
Check with a contractor before sealing weep holes in mortar. A cross-section of cotton rope may need to be inserted to wick off moisture.
Snakes - Fact or Fiction
- Fiction - You must watch out for water moccasins near Fairfax County streams and lakes.
- Fact - There are no water moccasins, also called cottonmouths, in Fairfax County. Their northernmost range in Virginia ends about 15 miles south of Richmond. The distinctive and seldom-seen copperhead is the only venomous species 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.