RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — For some people living in Central Virginia, the summer brings a unique set of challenges — the slithery and scaly kind, to be specific. That’s right, Central Virginians are seeing snakes.
According to the Wildlife Center of Virginia, people are more likely to encounter snakes during this time of year because snakes and humans are more active outdoors during the warmer months. Snakes are out hunting prey, and we are out enjoying staple summer activities.
“We’re heading to campsites, hiking areas, waterways, etc. where snakes have been all along, we’re just crossing paths with them more often due to increased activity levels on both sides of the spectrum,” said Alex Wehrung, a spokesperson for the Wildlife Center of Virginia, in an email statement.
For many, coming across snakes on their property or in the wild can be scary. Stories of snakebite incidents that send people to the hospital only elevate the fear that people tend to have around snakes. One way to combat ophidiophobia, or fear of snakes, is through education.
This Saturday, July 16 — known as World Snake Day — the Wildlife Center of Virginia is holding several events and activities to educate the public about the snake’s role in our ecosystem. Those who wish to learn more may visit the center’s website.
In the meantime, here some tips from the center if you do come across a snake on your property or in the wild:
- Leave the snake alone. “That’s not a piece of advice every single person is excited about following, but it’s really the best way to avoid conflict,” Wehrung said.
- Always put your hands and feet where you can see them. This is especially true when participating in summer activities, like hiking, camping, climbing or working outside. According to the center, snakes like to hide under logs and in crevices.
- Construct a fence around your property. The Virginia Cooperative Extension has instructions on how to erect a fence that will keep out the reptiles so that children can have a safe space to play outside.
- Remove any sources that may attract snakes when they are out and about. “They’re looking for food, water, shelter and space,” Wehrung said, adding, “Take away those elements first, and dealing with snakes later is much less likely to be an issue.”
- Do not kill a snake! If you’re afraid of the snake, avoid it. It is also illegal to kill snakes in Virginia unless there is an imminent threat to one’s personal health and safety, according to the center. Wehrung also added that if a snake tries to bite you, it means you are too close to the animal. Back away and give the snake some space and they will leave the area on their own.
- Do not attempt to handle, touch, trap or relocate wild snakes. Call your local wildlife center or animal control to get a professional to remove the snake. It is also illegal in Virginia to trap and relocate a wild animal without a permit. The center also has pointers for how to properly identify non-venomous snakes from venomous ones.