Year of the Snake: Fall Installment

Sure, summer is turning to fall and fall means cooler temperatures, shorter days and fewer snakes, right?

Not so fast folks. During September and October the average highs for the Lake James area are 81- and 72-degrees respectively. Those temperatures are well within the range for snakes and other cold-blooded animals to remain active. They are certainly higher than what’s necessary to trigger snakes into hibernation. This time of year, snake awareness takes on a day-by-day approach: If it’s a warm day, snakes will be active. If it’s a cold day, snakes will be unwilling to move very much, if at all.

For snake enthusiasts, these are the final days to observe and admire our scaly friends. Looking underneath logs and rocks can be particularly effective for finding snakes as they wait for the sun to rise and warm the ground. Of course, a certain amount of caution must be applied when one actively seeks out critters that can be venomous. Proper log flipping technique ensures the seeker and the sought will stay out of harms way. If you’re the type of person who intentionally looks for snake encounters, always flip the rock, log, sheet of metal or discarded lumber AWAY from your body, so that the object remains as a barrier between you and whatever might lie beneath it. An added layer of security can take the form of a simple garden rake or a fancy snake hook. By using the tool to lift the opposite edge of the object you can dispense with the need to put your hands anywhere near the place where a snake might be resting.

Once the object is flipped and the area scoured for snakes and other critters it is most important to replace it gently back to its original position on the ground. Remember that even if you did not observe anything alive there, animals might still reside unseen just under the surface.

While every backyard naturalist should practice safe log-flipping technique, it is especially important to train young outdoors people the proper way to explore their environment, both for themselves and the fascinating creatures they seek.