Local News

Fran Still Rattling a Few Nerves

Posted June 24, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— All of the leftover storm debris from Hurricane Fran is just what the cute little animals in the woods need. That would be good for homeowners ifallthe animals in the woods were cute. At the top of the not-cute list: snakes.

One rat snake became angry at WRAL photographer Robert Meikle. Luckily, it was non-poisonous. (SeeQuickTime video)

Hurricane Fran may not have increased the snake population, but herpetologist Jeff Beane says it may have made them more visible. In some areas it created a habitat for some species like scarlet king snakes-- which depend on fallen trees, stump holes and similar areas created by debris.

After Fran, crews cleared away mountains of debris. Still, piles of logs and brush remain. It's enough to keep chain saws and pickup trucks busy all summer. Beane warns folks to beware of snakes while doing yard work. He says on just about any given day in the summer, people are bound to see many more snakes than they normally would.

If you do see one, even a poisonous copperhead or cotton mouth, Beane says don't panic. Venomous snakes are the only ones that are going to cause any problems. Just be careful where you step or put your hands. Snakes are not going to attack you. Don't bother them, and they won't bother you.

Even Miekle's unfriendly rat snake first tried to run away. It then gave plenty of warning before striking back and did not bite. Had Miekle taken Beane's advice, he would have simply walked away.