Snakes in the Lake

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Here is the “Question of the Day”, an e-mail I received from someone with a house on a nearby lake:

Dear Paul,

I own a lake house that has a natural shore line and is located at the end of a cove next to a wooded area. During the past 25 years we have observed approximately 5-6 adult snakes on the property or in the adjacent water. The snakes have ranged from black snakes to moccasins and one copperhead. What, if anything, can we do to try to eliminate snakes from the property, especially in the area of the shoreline? What can we do to try to eliminate snakes in the water adjacent to the shore and dock to make swimming safe for ourselves and guests?

Sincerely,

Don Juan Sirpence

Dear Don,

Thank you so much for contacting us. I wish I had a good answer for you, but honestly I don’t think there is much you can do. However, perhaps the following points will provide some degree of comfort:

1. Snakes are generally very shy and will make every effort to avoid human interaction.

2. It is my understanding (based on conversations with experts from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission) that water moccasins are quite rare in this area (Vance and Warren Counties in NC). I spend a lot of time in the woods and at John H. Kerr Reservoir and have never seen one.

3. You are likely already aware that blacksnakes are non-venomous (although you still wouldn’t want one to bite you!).

4. Copperheads are the only venomous snake you are likely to see in this area.

5. The Banded Watersnake is nonvenomous, fairly common, and often misidentified as a water moccasin or copperhead. It’s often seen swimming.

6. Anytime you have a summer cookout, just let me know and I will be glad to come and be the first to dive in to the nice cool lake from your beautiful dock. I can also assist with ensuring that your boat and fishing gear are working correctly.

Here is a link to an excellent snake identification resource that may be of interest: http://www.bio.davidson.edu/projects/herpcons/herps_of_nc/snakes/snakes.html

You may also want to consult with one of the District Biologists with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission as they are the true experts on these types of questions.

Thanks again and kind regards,
Paul