Critters slither into homes in warm weather
CORNELIUS – The month of June means area animal control officers will be crawling on their stomachs more than usual in search of an annual summer nuisance – snakes.
“We’ve had a lot of calls on snakes the past few weeks,” Cornelius Animal Control Officer Kenny Russell said, after recently removing a five-foot black snake from the crawl space of a Cornelius home off Bethel Church Road.
“You’ve got to seal everything up,” he said. “If they can get their head in, they’ll squeeze on through.”
Cold-blooded snakes need to moderate their body temperature, Russell said, so they seek warm areas when it’s cold outside, and cool, damp places when the weather is warmer.
And because mating season runs from late spring to early summer, snakes become much more active this time of year.
He suggests caulking the vents and door jambs leading into crawl spaces under the house. From those small spaces, snakes may find other gaps in flooring or plumbing which allow them entry inside a home.
Russell said he’s found snakes in the eaves of back porches, inside garages, and even inside laundry dryers and kitchen stoves.
But black snakes can be more benefit than nuisance. They run off and kill venomous snakes such as copperheads and cottonmouths.
Davidson College’s herpetology lab, dedicated to studying local snakes, offers resources to identify snakes found in the area and determine if their unwelcome guest is harmless or cause for alarm.
Spreading mothballs around the perimeter of the home is an old home remedy that can deter a snake from getting too close, but mothballs can be toxic, so Russell urges caution in the presence of pets or small children. There are also spray deterrents available at hardware and camping stores.
While black snakes aren’t venomous, they might strike at a person trying to remove them. Russell suggests calling the local police department who will remove a snake at no cost.
Russell said he gets snake calls about three or four times a week during the late spring and summer months. More often than not, it’s for harmless black snakes.