What to do if you encounter a snake in Connecticut

As snakes become more active this season, the state environmental agency is telling people the reptiles pose no threat if left alone.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection offered safety tips for snake encounters, warning to “observe and enjoy snakes from a distance” and, instead of killing them, “ let them go their way.”

“Snakes are often killed unnecessarily by people due to mistaken identity, fear and misunderstanding,” said Jenny Dickson, director of DEEP’s Division of Wildlife. “If you unexpectedly encounter a snake, chances are the snake will be as surprised as you are. The best course of action is to stay calm. All snakes will retreat from humans if given the chance.”

There are two species of venomous snakes found in Connecticut, officials said: the timber rattlesnake and the eastern copperhead. Neither is common and people are unlikely to find a venomous snake around their homes, officials said.

“These two venomous snakes, along with Connecticut’s 12 other snake species, only bite if threatened or handled. If left alone, the snakes pose no threat to people,” officials said. “It’s important to note that snake species are shy and non-aggressive.”

To deter snakes from taking up residence, DEEP suggested that homeowners target hiding spots in their yards, including cutting grass short, removing brush and rock piles, and cutting shrubs off the ground and filling cracks in foundations. their houses .

Some snake species, such as garter snakes, “are often found in yards and around outbuildings,” and occasionally enter a residence in search of food.

Nonvenomous snakes can be removed from a home easily and safely, DEEP officials said. A pair of garden gloves provides enough protection against garter snakes, which often emit a musky odor as self-defense, but can tear the skin with a bite, officials said.

“The snake should be picked up carefully to avoid excessive pressure. Snakes have delicate bodies and are easily injured,” officials said. “Place the snake in a cloth bag or bucket and release it in an area not far from the point of capture so that the snake is in familiar territory. In the rare event that you find a venomous snake on your property, the best is to leave her alone and let her move.”

More information about snakes and snake conservation in Connecticut, as well as an identification guide, can be found on the DEEP website.

Interested parties can also send photos of snakes to deep.ctwildlife@ct.gov for help with identification.

william.lambert@hearstmediact.com

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