HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Snake season is officially in full swing and there is no shortage of these reptiles in the Tennessee Valley.
Snakes start moving the most around March or April, and slow down after the end of fall, before going back into hibernation, or brumation, for the winter.
“You’re going to see a lot of Timber Rattlesnakes on the Madison County side. In Central Alabama, you’re going to start to run into Northern cottonmouths,” Chase Bowman said.
Bowman is a relocation specialist with the volunteer group, Alabama Snake Removers. He said the most common type among venomous snakes, are copperheads.
“You can find a copperhead pretty much anywhere. They do well in urban areas. They can acclimate to neighborhoods really well,” he said.
The goal of Alabama Snake Removers is to get snakes, both venomous and not, and relocate them somewhere safe away from people they could hurt or who could hurt them.
“As Madison County is developing we’re going to run into more encounters through the snakes in the area. They’re going to get into cool spaces like crawl spaces, gaps in the steps outside your house, they can get into your garage, anywhere they can seek shelter,” Bowman said.
With as hot as it is right now, he said snake behavior changes.
“Just like we have it now, got heat advisories active, a lot of our snakes go from diurnal to really active at night. They’ll be crossing roads, sidewalks so it’s really important if you’re going out to the mailbox, make sure you’re wearing shoes, don’t get complacent, watch where you’re placing your hands.”
No matter day or night, he said if you come in contact with one, there’s one thing you should do:
“On a walk, on a hike, at home, just get yourself away from the animal. Space is going to be your best friend. Especially get your kids, pets away from the animal before you go about making any decisions on the animal itself,” he said. “The last thing we want you to do is to get close to the snake because there are a lot of envenomations that happen every year due to people getting close with a shovel, garden hoe, as opposed to spraying it with a garden hose from 25 feet.”
Bowman said the best way to prevent an encounter in the first place, though, is to stay on top of your yard work. Keep the grass mowed, the hedges trimmed and clean up any piles of debris that a snake could hide in. He also stresses, if at all possible, try not to kill it.
“The mentality is the first thing when you see a snake is you have to run and kill it, but due to the tab that rodents run up in the United States, which equates to more than $4 billion a year, you’re going to want to do what you can to push your comfort zone to give the snake space but let the snake live if you can,” Bowman said.