‘Leave them alone.’ DEEP offers advice on snake encounters

Garter snakes are one of CT's non-venomous species of snakes.
Garter snakes are one of CT's non-venomous species of snakes.(Picasa | Credit Paul Benjunas/DEEP Wildlife Division)
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 8:02 AM EDT
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(WFSB) - State environmental officials sought to remind people that snakes in Connecticut pose no threat to people if left alone.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said snakes are active during the warmer months and offered advice to people who may encounter the reptiles around homes or hiking trails.

“Snakes are often needlessly killed by people because of mistaken identity, fear, and misunderstanding,” said Jenny Dickson, DEEP wildlife division director. “If you unexpectedly come across a snake, the snake is likely as startled as you are. The best course of action is to remain calm. All snakes will retreat from humans if given a chance.”

DEEP said snakes serve dual roles as both predators and prey. Their consumption of small mammals helps control rodent and other pest populations, yet they are eaten by many animals, including some mammals and birds of prey.

The agency urged people not to kill snakes that they encounter. It is recommended that people observe and enjoy snakes from a distance and allow them to go on their way.

It is important to keep in mind that snake species are shy and non-aggressive, DEEP said.

The two venomous snake species found in Connecticut, the timber rattlesnake and eastern copperhead, are not widely distributed, and most people are unlikely to encounter a venomous snake around their home. The two venomous snake species, along with the other 12 Connecticut snake species, will only bite if threatened or handled. DEEP said that if left alone, snakes pose no threat to people.

DEEP said some snake species, such as garter snakes, are often encountered in yards and around outbuildings. Occasionally, they will enter homes and outbuildings in search of food.

A non-venomous snake found in the home can be easily and safely removed. A pair of garden gloves is sufficient protection from gartersnakes, which prefer to emit a musky odor in defense, but will occasionally bite when handled.

All snakes have teeth, DEEP said. A bite on an unprotected hand is not dangerous but can break the skin and be painful and startling.

The snake should be picked up carefully to avoid excessive squeezing. Snakes have delicate bodies and are easily injured. Place the snake in a cloth bag or bucket and release it in an area not far from the point of capture so the snake will be in familiar territory.

In the rare event of encountering a venomous snake on your property, it is best to leave it alone and allow it to move along. To discourage snakes from entering buildings, make sure all cracks in the foundation are sealed. Basement windows should close tight or be covered with screens. Most snakes do not require large openings to gain entrance.

More information about snakes in Connecticut can be found on DEEP’s website here.