Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Snake in the ivy

Posted May 21, 2008

It was starting to rain. I was moving swiftly out our front door toward the car. Down the steps and left onto the sidewalk.  My eyes focus on something moving into the ivy and taking refuge there next to the scarlet maple. Snake alert. Just what kind I'm not sure.

It's that time of the year. I saw two other snakes while running the other day.

How do you deal with snakes around your house? I try not to overreact but I don't want a snake living in the ivy that everyone passes coming into and out of our home. A neighbor across the cul de sac hired a pest control company recently to deal with snakes in her yard. They're using mothballs to keep the critters away. Does that really work? I've heard mixed reviews.

What about you? How about slithering up to the keyboard right now and giving us your best snake story and advice.

Can you name the different venomous snakes found in NC?

True or false.  Cottonmouth snakes love to swim in mountain lakes. 


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  • SnakeLady May 22, 2008

    FYI, I realize that not many folks would care to look long enough, but if you're near the NC/SC coast, it's good to know this jingle:

    Red touch yellow
    Kill a fellow
    Red touch black
    Friend of Jack (or venom lack)

    That's how you can tell the difference between a coral snake (note: highly endangered species!) and a scarlet kingsnake or scarlette milksnake. The coral snake is related to the cobra (similar fangs and similar venom).... luckily the coral is very shy and very tiny. You would probably never see one unless you were specifically searching for one.

    Always glad to educate!

  • SnakeLady May 22, 2008

    I was just thinking.... it's possible that mothballs MIGHT repel rodents... if so, then it MIGHT therefore give snakes a reason to not be there. :)

  • SnakeLady May 22, 2008

    Hi Bill, You can probably guess that I LOVE snakes.

    Snakes only have 3 missions in life:

    1. Eat as many rodents (or lizards or snakes) as possible before winter

    2. Bask in the sun (to help digest all those rodents)

    3. Breed (of course)

    Good for you for not freaking out!!!

    The ONLY way to keep snakes away from the house is make sure they don't have a reason to go there (rodents, warm places, hiding spaces).

    For mothballs and snakeaway to work, you'd need enough to run YOU away.

    I tell folks that if they see a snake... especially a big snake... to leave it alone, because s/he's obviously doing his/her job! :)

    Here in the triangle area, the only venomous snakes around are copperheads. Coral snakes, moccasins, & eastern diamond backs are nearer to the coast, There are also timber and pigmy rattlers (I think towards the mtns).

    But, remember, all snakes hope you won't see them! They only want your mice and rats!

    You may contact me directly if you wish!

  • malford May 22, 2008

    Bill; I am deathly afraid of snakes. When they come on tv I have to change channels or turn it off. One evenig last summer I was on my back deck with my 2 dogs George and Gracie. I was going to walk down the steps to the ground to look at some flowers blooming when George my male dog got in front of me and kept trying to keep me from stepping off the step to the ground. He barked and nuzzled my leg. Once I looked down to the ground I say his reason for doing so. There was Mr. Snake coiled and ready to strike. I dont think my feet hit another object until they rested on the kitchen floor back inside, with George tight behind. I dont remember how I got back inside or who made it first me or George. All I do know is; my friend George saved my life that nite. Because if I had stepped on that snake I would have died right there of fright. It was a harmless black snake I was told. I told them there is nothing harmless about a snake, they make you hurt yourself.

  • Wheelman May 22, 2008

    The mountains are too cold for moccasins. You find them mainly in the eastern piedmont and the coastal plain. Back in the 60's my family owned a motel in Boone. Grew up in Wilson, but spent all my summers there. We were told by a biology professor at ASU the there were not any poisionous snakes in the Boone area. Boone and the area right around it are on a plateau. This professor said they were trying to find out what it was about the area that caused the lack of poisionous snakes. They thought it had something to do with the plateau. He said that they actually brought some in from other areas and they would not live. I don't know if there is any truth to this, but I can attest to the fact that I never saw any poisionous snakes. I spent huge amounts of time roaming the woods in the area back then. Our property would have been a prime location with a creek etc. on it and Boone was a very small town at the time. There were only about 10,000 people in the entire county back then.

  • thinknc May 21, 2008

    Two weeks ago, my daughter and I trapped a large black snake that was curled up inside a bluebird house by putting duct tape over the entry hole. We then pulled the house off the post, and carried the snake to the far side of the farm, in hope that the snake would find happier hunting in the woods. Last Sunday, we discovered a suspiciously similar snake in the box where my son was housing 9 chicks he recently ordered from Connecticut. (Chick count down to eight). While we were trying to figure out how to remove the snake without allowing it to escape, a friend happened to stop by. He quickly rigged up a stick with a string and some sort of slip knot, and with one smooth motion had the 6 ft.+ snake trapped behind its head in a loop of string! He released the snake in the woods many miles--and a lake--away! So there's now a Granville Co. snake full of Connecticut chicken residing in the woods of Wake County!

  • jcsmom May 21, 2008

    We found the first snake ever on our property in the ten years we have lived here this past weekend. It was a very small brown snake. I don't care if it is poisonous, non-poisonous, big or small; I don't like them at all!

  • MrQuestions May 21, 2008

    Dear Bill, Here is a pic of a rough earth snake for your comparison.
    Looks like the same pattern of scales on the head, to me, it appears to be a match for the snake in your pic. The snake in your pic looks to have shed its skin more recently than the one I found on the internet.

  • krisandbruiser May 21, 2008

    Last year I found a 6 foot snake skin under one of the trees in our yard. It's hanging on the wall in our garage. I don't kill snakes, for that matter spiders either. I've picked up grass spiders that have gotten in the house and put them back outside.Just yesterday (21st), I was working at a site when the site manager came back from lunch with a box, he said "look what I found." He had killed an orange belly water snake. He swore it was a copperhead.I assured him it was not. Our backyard is wooded and is a certified wildlife habitat. I have yet to see a copperhead or cottonmouth there. I'm sure there are copperheads, but no cottonmouths, not enough wet area for them. By the way, the snake skin is from a black snake.

  • TheDude abides... May 21, 2008

    We do have king snakes here in NC. They come in all different colors. Some look like the very poisonous Coral snake. The one's I see at home are ususall black with white stripes (cross-ways, not long-ways) I was always told not to kill these either, as they are immune to other snakes' venom and eat moccasins.




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Bill Leslie