Whether you routinely walk in the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve or find snakes in your yard, it’s a good idea to have handy a way to identify venomous versus non-venomous reptiles.
Know Your Snakes
This time of year, there is an increase in snake sightings. Here is a link to basic snake identification, courtesy of the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. And remember, non-venomous snakes are protected by law in Georgia under O.C.G.A. §27-1-28: “In Georgia it is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail to possess or kill many of nongame wildlife species, including non-venomous snakes.”
What to Do If You Spot a Snake
Never harm or kill any snake in the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve. Call Elachee at 770-535-1976 to report a suspected venomous snake sighting along the trails, such as a Copperhead. Although Copperhead snakes may be seen along streams, in Chicopee Woods we more commonly see them on hillsides and along the hiking trails partially concealed in the leaf litter.
However, when hiking in Chicopee Woods, you may very well spot a non-venomous Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon) along Vulture Rock Creek or Elachee Creek. They are not Copperheads! If you spot these snakes, stop to admire their beauty and then leave them alone. Northern water snakes feed primarily on fish and amphibians, and are often seen basking on rocks and branches along creeks. For that reason, they’re often mistaken for water moccasins (which do not live in Chicopee Woods).
Even more common in backyards throughout northeast Georgia are non-venomous Black Rat Snakes. Again admire, but don’t harm. Having this scaly friend lurking in your yard is good because they keep rodents and venomous snakes away.