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Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

Watch for our slithering friends

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Just the other day, I was reminded of our slithering friends.

My slithering friend ended up being a black snake with a yellow ring around its neck, making it easy to identify as a Ringneck Snake. Just because I was able to identify it doesn't mean I wanted it around me as I worked in my yard. What it did mean was that I was not in danger since Ringneck Snakes are nonpoisonous.

There are four venomous snakes found in Indiana. Those include timber rattlesnakes, Eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes, northern copperheads and western cottonmouths.

These four snakes all belong to the pit viper family. There are a number of ways to help identify a venomous snake from the pit viper family from a non-venomous snake.

For instance, pit vipers have elliptical pupils while non-venomous snakes have round pupils. Additionally, pit vipers have one row of scales on the tail undersurface between the vent and the top of the tail while non-venomous snakes have two rows of scales.

While I realize that knowing whether the snake is venomous or not is important, most individuals would still say that they don't want the snake around. To keep snakes away, you might decide to try one or more of the following control methods.

One of the most effective ways of discouraging snakes from being around you is by removing their shelter. To do this, eliminate rock piles, brush piles, tall grass, etc., from around your home. Any lumber, wood piles, or other debris should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground. Additionally, try to control insects and rodents that snakes find attractive.

Another method of dealing with snakes is by exclusion.

To do this, make sure that all points of entry into a house or another building are completely sealed.

Make sure that all openings around water pipes, electrical outlets, doors and windows are closed.

If the area is small, you might want to try using snake-proof fences. You do this by burying 4-6 inches of heavy galvanized screen with inch wire mesh into the ground. The remaining 30 inches should be sticking up above ground at a 30-degree angle. Place a stake on the inside of the fence for support.

Trapping is another possible method that you can use to control snakes. To do this, place rodent control glue boards on some plywood board approximately 24 inches by 16 inches. Then place the traps near the wall where you have seen the snake travel. Once you capture a snake on the board, release it by pouring vegetable oil over the snake and the glue board after you relocate it.

The final method that you can use is chemical. There currently are no toxicants or fumigants registered for the control of snakes.

There are, however, registered commercial repellents that can be used for specific snake species. If you would decide to use a chemical control, follow all instructions on the label.

Seeing a snake can be a tragic event. Often times, the snake will not harm you when left alone. If you are attacked by a snake, please make sure that you identify it and seek medical treatment if it is venomous.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* June 12 -- Bird Fest, Turkey Run State Park,

* June 22 -- Calf Performance Program, Campbellsburg, 7 p.m., Register by June 18 at 883-4601,

* June 24-24 -- 78th Annual Indiana Farm Management Tour, call 765-482-0750 or 317-745-9260 by June 16 to register,

* July 1 -- Purdue Weed Day, Lafayette. Call 765-494-4656 to pre-register, and

* July 14 -- Nitty Gritty II, Indianapolis, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Cost $80. Register by July 2 at www.infarmbur-eau.org.