As our summertime activity increases here in Georgia, more and more of us Georgians are finding ourselves spending time in the great outdoors. Whether it’s hiking the North Georgia trails, soaking up the sun at Lake Lanier, taking in the view at Stone Mountain, walking the Beltline, or just hanging out in our own yard, there’s a pretty good chance that we’ll be within close proximity to a snake or within a snake’s natural habitat. While most of us shudder at the thought of crossing paths with a snake, the truth is that an overwhelming majority of Georgia’s species of snakes are non-venomous and yes, like you’ve probably heard before, “more scared of us than we are of them.” That probably doesn’t bring you much comfort, though.
What might help with the anxiety, however, is knowing that of the 46 species of snakes from Georgia, only six of them are venomous. In addition, no single venomous species can be found over the entire state and only a portion of the Georgia Coastal Plain, an area that covers the southern and southeastern half of the state is inhabited by all six venomous species. Georgia’s venomous species of snakes are:
- Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
- Timber/Canebrake Rattlesnake
- Pigmy Rattlesnake
- Eastern Coral Snake
While it goes without saying that you should be on high alert and extremely attentive when in areas where snakes might be present, it also helps to know how to identify the venomous species through recognition of physical attributes, patterns, and colors.
- Copperhead – Medium-sized, maximum length approximately 4.5 feet, with most under 3 feet. Starting with their large, triangular heads and elliptical pupils that look like cat eyes, copperheads are thick and heavy-bodied, with tan to brown coloring, featuring darker crossbands shaped like hourglasses across the width of the body that go down the length of the body.
- Cottonmouth – Large, heavy-bodied, semi-aquatic snakes, Cottonmouths, also known as Water Moccasins, can reach a maximum of 6 feet, with most under 3 feet. With keeled scales, cottonmouths look rougher than a smooth scaled snake. Their color is highly variable, with younger snakes sporting dark crossbands on light brown to orange/yellow bodies, while older snakes become so dark that the bands become totally obscured.
- Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake – Possibly the easiest of the bunch to identify, the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is the heaviest-bodied and one of the state’s longest, reaching 7 feet or more, but typically measuring 3-5 feet from its wide head to its distinctive rattle at the tip of its tail. It gets its name from the long row of diamond-shaped blotches along its back.
- Timber/Canebrake Rattlesnake – Another large, heavy-bodied snake averaging 3-5 feet in length, the Canebrake rattlers are usually gray, but may even have a pink hue with a pinkish, orange, yellow, or brown stripe running the length of the back, while Timber rattlers tend to be darker, typically brown or yellowish and possibly even black. Both feature brown to black chevron-shaped bands that cross the body.
- Pigmy Rattlesnake – Also distinct due to its size, the pigmy rattlesnake is the smallest of Georgia’s venomous snakes. Generally 16-23 inches long, their background color is usually gray or tan, but can be reddish or almost black in some populations. Their back pattern consists of approximately 22-45 dark blotches with light edges. In addition to one to three rows of dark spots on the sides, there may also be a reddish stripe down the center of the back, with its signature rattle at the tip of its tail.
- Eastern Coral Snake – Smooth and slender, most coral snakes range from 20-30 inches long, with wide black and red rings that are equal in width, separated by narrow yellow rings. In addition to its rounded snout, it also has a distinctive broad yellow band across the head and neck.
Due to the extreme danger a venomous snake poses, it’s advisable that you not only avoid any contact with a venomous snake, but also avoid any attempt to try and capture it or kill it.
The wildlife professionals at Wild Trappers can inspect your property to not only assess how attractive it may be to snakes, but can advise you on how to snake-proof your yard to make it less snake-friendly. They can inspect your home’s perimeter to check for holes, cracks, and gaps that snakes can use to enter your home’s recesses and fill them appropriately. While there’s no way to completely eliminate the threat of snakes in your yard, there are things you can do to lessen the threat.