Warmer weather brings uptick in snake sightings, experts say leave them alone


LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- The warmer weather is bringing out our slithering friends.

The Blackwater Creek Trail is just one of the many places you could find scaly friends, but experts said whether you're able to identify them or now, it's best to just leave them alone and they'll leave you alone too.

"People ask what are you most afraid of and people have to decide between public speaking and snakes and occasionally public speaking wins," said Bonnie Tillotson, with the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Experts in Virginia think most people have an irrational fear of the reptile.

"Most snakes are not out there to come after you," said Richard Perry, with Virginia Wildlife Management and Control. "They're not out there to hurt you."

Perry said they've been flooded with calls and messages about snakes.

"We were actually getting calls right around the end of February which is absolutely unheard of," he said.

Just last week, one customer sent them a picture of a snake crawling up the wall of their living room.

"We get anywhere from 75-150 texts per day," Perry said.

Experts say most people incorrectly identify the kind of snake they're looking at.

There are more than 30 types of snakes in Virginia, but only three are venomous: northern copperheads, rattlesnakes and eastern cottonmouths (also known as water moccasins).

Copperheads are common in our area.

A triangular shaped head and cat-like eyes are giveaways that a snake is venomous, non-venomous snakes have round heads and round pupils.

And another tip to remember, Tillotson said venomous snakes will normally be heavier and fatter.

Deaths from copperhead or rattlesnake bites are extremely rare, but the most important action is to call 911 or get them to a healthcare facility as soon as possible so they can get medical care for the pain, swelling, and other symptoms.

If possible, wash the bite wound with soap and water, and remove any tight clothing or jewelry to allow for swelling, which may be severe.

If you have any wildlife, reptile, bee, wasp, or hornet issue, you can contact them at anytime on their hotline at 804-617-7086.

You can send pictures to the hotline or message them to the company on Facebook.

Also remember, avoid killing snakes, they are valuable to our ecosystem.

Illegally killing a snake is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail, according to the Virginia Code.

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