Whitesburg KY

Spring means snakes are out crawling here

The songbirds are returning, the daffodils have bloomed and more and more, the snakes are crawling.

After all, it’s spring in Kentucky, so it’s time to expect more activity from our legless reptile friends, right?

“Any day it gets warm, when it gets up in the mid- to upper 60s, they’ll be out sunning themselves, warming up,” says Tom Barnes, a wildlife management specialist in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Forestry.

“People will probably start off seeing garter snakes, because those are the snakes people most frequently run into around their yards,” Barnes says.

Once spotted, the snakes should be fairly easy to watch – if the temperature’s right.

“Typically, this time of year they’re pretty slow and lethargic because it’s still cool. Snakes are cold-blooded, so they’ll lie still and sun themselves,” Barnes says.

That may offer a temptation to kill the snake, but Barnes urges people to resist that thought.

“Snakes – all snakes – play a pretty important role by getting rid of rodents and insects they eat,” he points out.

As we move further into spring and days get warmer, we’ll see snakes more often – much more than in summer.

“There’s a reason snakes are seen more often in spring and fall. The temperature is good for them – not too hot and not too cold. In the summer, snakes will be more active at night,” Barnes says.

Even some summer nights may be too cool for snakes, though.

“”That’s why you’ll see them come out on roads, because the pavement retains the heat from the day,” Barnes says.

Most snakes will avoid contact with people, even venomous snakes like rattlesnakes and copperheads.

But water snakes, including non-venomous ones, can appear to be rather bold.

“Water snakes can be pretty aggressive because of what they eat. They eat fast-moving prey, so they move fast themselves,” Barnes says.

Even so, he repeats, all snakes play an important role in maintaining a health balance in the environment.

“If at all possible, the best thing to do is leave a snake alone and let it do its part,” Barnes says.

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