• By Phyllis B. Smith
  • Posted Monday, May 13, 2019

Warm Weather is Here and the Snakes are Out!

Snakes are legless reptiles with bodies covered by dry scales. As ectotherms they seek shelter and become dormant in winter, then emerge in the spring to mate and resume normal activities. All snakes are carnivores and feed on a variety of animals including rodents, insects, spiders, snails, frogs, fish, and even other snakes! Snakes are also eaten by animals such as hawks, owls, opossums and foxes. As both predator and prey, snakes are probably underappreciated for the important role they play in ecosystems.

Thirty-seven species of snakes live throughout North Carolina. Among the six venomous species, the copperhead is the only venomous snake found throughout the entire state. With the exception of the copperhead, snakes in Forsyth County are predominately nonvenomous, like the black rat snake (Elaphe obsolete) shown here. Juveniles of this species are boldly patterned and are sometimes mistaken for copperheads, but aspects of their appearance are distinctly different. For comparison visit the Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina website, http://herpsofnc.org/, maintained by the Davidson College Herpetology Lab. Click on the “Snakes” page and then open any thumbnail for more details.


N.C. State University Extension offers the publication Reptiles and Amphibians in Your Backyard. Download at https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/reptiles-and-amphibians-in-your-backyard or drop by the Forsyth County Center of N.C. Cooperative Extension at 1450 Fairchild Road in Winston-Salem to pick up a free copy.

Other snakes will be featured in the weeks ahead. Check in on a regular basis to learn more about our wonderful variety of scaled friends.

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