WINSTON-SALEM, NC – On Sunday morning, WFMY News 2 posted an article on the station Facebook page, giving all the details of the differences between black snakes and copperheads. After receiving lots of comments and questions on the story, we decided to head out and take some of the frequently asked questions and comments to a snake expert.
Enter Scott McNeely, entomologist and President of McNeely Pest Control.
The number one question (and a question McNeely hears regularly) why are the snakes in my yard?
McNeely: “It’s there for one of two reasons. Either food or shelter. The big thing is think about where mice and rodents live. A lot of low ground cover, thick ivy, you’ve got a wood pile and the wood pile is right on the ground. Next to the bird feeder that attracts birds and rodents.”
McNeely’s suggestion: Get any wood piles off the ground if possible. Also, try moving the bird feeder further away from the home. (Or, you could just let the snake do its job and eat the mice.)
Well, the snake is already in my yard. So, how do I get rid of it?
McNeely: “A lot of time we can’t prevent them from coming through the yard but we don’t want them to stay. Snakes don’t make holes but they will utilize holes that are there. Think about hey, we’ve got gaps in the sidewalk or under the sidewalk. Get some dirt and pack it in. Gas line, the AC unit. Those lines go through the wall. Those all provide potential opening for mice and guess what’s going to follow? Snakes.”
McNeely’s suggestion: Pack dirt into holes, seal up gaps around AC units and gas lines if possible and cut the tree limbs that are hanging close to or lying on the roof. Black snakes are great climbers and can slither their way into your home.”
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Are there other ways to keep them out of the yard?
McNeely: You can try snake repellents and sulphur, but just remember, anything in nature can find a way around the repellant. And, you might have to put down repellant often depending on the size of your yard or if there is a lake nearby.
McNeely suggestion: Eliminate the mice/rodent problem, keep the grass trimmed, fill gaps and holes and call a professional if they become a problem.
How many venomous snakes are in North Carolina?
McNeely: Six species. Copperheads in the Piedmont-Triad area. Timber (Canebrake) Rattlesnakes in the Hanging Rock area and along Blue Ridge. Pigmy Rattlesnake found in southeastern NC. Coral snakes in the extreme southeast. Water Moccasins or Cottonmouth, east of Raleigh and Fayetteville and Diamondbacks in Eastern NC.
Do black snakes kill copperheads?
McNeely: Yes and no. There are two typical kinds of black snakes. Black racers do occasionally kill and eat other snakes, but black rat snakes do not. Sometimes, black rat snakes will hibernate with copperheads.
Do you get more calls for black snakes or copperheads?
McNeely: “95 percent of the calls that we get snakes associated with homes are black snakes which are beneficial because they do eat a lot of rats and mice. We just relocate the black snakes.”
What's the peak of “snake season?”
McNeely: “May and early June influx of calls. Snakes enjoying the weather and more active. We see them less as the summer temperatures get hotter but there are still around.”
McNeely suggestion: If you do see a snake, leave it alone if possible or call someone to help get rid of the snake.