Georgia Wild — Little Snakes

Georgia Wild — Little Snakes

Hi! Welcome to Georgia Wild. I’m Linda May, and today we’re going to talk about the little snakes that you may find in your yard or elsewhere this time of year. Late summer is when most of our young snakes come into the world. Of the 46 species of snakes that live here in Georgia, about half are born live, and about half hatch out of eggs. While some of the small snakes that you find could indeed be very young and have a lot of growing left to do, you may be really surprised to learn that we have several common snakes here that never get very big as adults. For example, this juvenile brown snake he’s maybe five inches long. He’s only going to get to be about nine to thirteen inches long, maybe even a little smaller, and about the thickness of a pencil. That’s his full-grown size. Other species of snakes here in Georgia that stay fairly small as full-grown adults include the worm snake, the ring-necked snake, the red-bellied snake, the southeastern crowned snake, and also the smooth and rough earth snakes. If you’re not sure the species, though, and especially if you’re concerned that it could be venomous, you don’t want to be handling it like I am this one right now, but you also don’t want to kill it because it’s illegal to kill a nonvenomous snake. So what can you do to identify it and maybe ease some of your fears about what you’re finding in your yard? Well, you can make some mental notes of its characteristics. What color is it? Does it have any particular markings? How big is it? You could also take a picture of the snake and then use that as a reference for later. If you do a Google search, though, online, and say you just want to put a brief description in the search box, make sure that you add the word “Georgia” next to it, otherwise you could be getting results for other parts of the world and really mis-identify the snake. There’s a really great website for snake ID that I like a lot. It’s through the Savannah River Ecology Lab Then if you want to go the old-fashioned route, you can use a field guide to reptiles. I’ve had this one since college. It’s Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. And then if you really want to learn your snakes well, I highly recommend this book by UGA Press, The Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia. We have some DNR biologists that contributed to this book: John Jensen and Matt Elliott. And it’s got wonderful pictures and descriptions in there. But maybe you don’t want to go through all that trouble to really just find out if the snake in question is venomous. If that’s the case, I highly recommend this online brochure that Georgia DNR offers called, “Venomous Snakes of Georgia.” And it’s free to download. It’s also got pictures of nonvenomous snakes in there, but it mostly highlights those six venomous species. Knowing what species you have could ease some of your fears, but another fear that people have when they find this small snake is that there could be a mama around. Well, you can rest assured that’s not the case, because snakes really don’t take care of their young. For those species that lay eggs, they’ve laid those eggs, and they’ve moved on months ago. If it’s a live-bearer, then, yes, there could be a small cluster of those juvenile snakes at first, but those are going to disperse along with the adults. They don’t all stay around and take care of each other, necessarily. So I hope this information helps calm some of your fears to where you’ll maybe even enjoy some of the snakes in your yard. A lot of these small snakes do a great service to those of us who like to garden. They eat lots of insects that would otherwise be eating your plants. Bye for now, and thank you for helping to keep Georgia wild.

Randy Schultz

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4 thoughts on “Georgia Wild — Little Snakes

  1. Scott L says:

    Very cool topic.

  2. Jackie Elder says:

    I love Georgia Wild! I use this site for my Zoology class.

  3. Journeyman says:

    Thanks for the education!

  4. cesar savage boy says:

    i live in georgia

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