Don’t look now but the sun is shining a little more, and the temperatures are starting to warm up.
It’s a beautiful thing after slogging through another Pennsylvania winter, but humans aren’t the only creatures ready to get out and about in the nice weather. The rising temperatures mean snakes will be on the move, too.
Most of the 21 species of snakes folks will see in Pennsylvania are not only harmless, they are helpful. They eat pests, like mice and insects, that may try to get into your home. But there are three species of snakes you will want to be mindful of because — while they are also important parts of our environment, too — they are venomous.
So, you will want to give them their space as they slither on by.
Below is a quick look at those three snake species to be aware of this spring and summer:
About the snake: This is the venomous snake folks are most likely to see while out and about in Pa. The timber rattlesnake likes to hang out near cover and rugged terrain — rocks, crevices and trees — throughout the state. Adult timber rattlesnakes grow to about 36-60 inches in length. The females tend to bask in the sun, particularly in the summer, when they are often pregnant and preparing to give birth. The males spend their time in cooler woodland areas. They feed on small animals like birds, frogs and other snakes, too. A bite from a timber rattlesnake can be serious, but if there is good news in that they can often be fairly docile, and will often alert you of their presence with their rattles. They are listed as a species of concern, and are even endangered in New Jersey.
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
About the snake: You are far less likely to run into this rattlesnake than the timber rattlesnake. In fact, it is considered endangered in the Keystone State. It is found in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Crawford, Lawrence, Mercer and Venango Counties. It can grow to 18-to-40 inches in length Its prime territory includes wetlands and prairies.
About the snake: The copperhead can be tough to see, and it does not make its presence known like the timber rattlesnake. It can be aggressive, too. They have excellent camouflage and tend to hang out near cover they can blend in with and also like rocks, ledges and brush. The copperhead typically grows to about 24-to-36 inches in length.
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