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Snakes: Love Them or Hate Them They Are Here

The Democrat Reporter of Linden, Alabama

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ALBAMA COPERATIVE EXTENSION NEWS

I saw a picture last week of a copperhead someone had killed in Marengo County this spring. Since I am not a snake lover, I shuddered. Other people have a more educated response to snakes, but we all have to respect copperheads Now that the weather is warmer (at least some days), snakes will be on the move. Of the more than 40 species of snakes that live in Alabama, only 6 are venomous. The others will not hurt you. Of course, one of my daddy's friends often said that they could make you hurt yourself! j

There are six venomous snake species native to Alabama. Five of these are in the pit viper group. These include the copperhead, cottonmouth, timber rattlesnake, Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, and the pygmy rattlesnake. The pit viper gets its name from the heat-sensing pit organ located between the eye and nostril. This helps them sense differences in temperature which helps them locate warm blooded prey.

"Venomous pit vipers may be distinguished by the large triangular head, the heavy body relative to its length, the vertical pupils, and the single row of scales on the belly below the anal scales," said Dr. Jim Armstrong, a forestry and wildlife specialist with the Alabama Cooperative System.

The coral snake is the sixth venomous snake in Alabama. These snakes have slender bodies and can grow to a maximum of 3 feet in length. The coral snake is brightly colored with alternating bands of red and black separated by narrow bands of yellow. There are two non venomous snakes that have similar coloration patterns, but in different design. Just remember, "red touch yellow, kill a fellow." Coral snakes have a black snout or nose. They are rarely seen and generally live underground in loose soils.

A bite from a venomous snake is serious and can be deadly. It is best to avoid these snakes. Never try to handle a venomous snake.

Non venomous snake species in Alabama vastly outnumber the venomous ones. The most common is the gray rat snake. They are one of the longest snakes in North America, occasionally growing up to 8 feet in length. They are dark to light gray with darker gray or brown blotches. They are good climbers so they can be found lying on tree limbs and branches.

"When going into places that snakes are likely to be found, my advice is to use your eyes and look before putting your hands or feet in places where you can't see them sell," Armstrong said.

1 always try to avoid snakes. However, I know with my head that snakes play a vital role in the environment and can be useful in things like controlling the rodent population my heart- now that's a different matter.

If you need more information, go to www.aces.edu or call the Marengo County office at 334 295-5959.



Copyright 2015 The Democrat Reporter, Linden, Alabama. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: April 9, 2015



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