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Meet the Snakes!

'Meet the Snakes! Northern Watersnake (Nerodia Sipedon)'
May 31, 2023

Snakes are among the most vilified creatures in the world and simply hearing the word, “snake,” is enough to make some folks cringe or even scream in fear! But, the reality is the vast majority of snakes pose no threat or risk to humans at all! There are 46 species of snakes in Georgia. Of those, only 6 are venomous, and only 3 are found in Cobb County.  You may encounter snakes while visiting our parks or walking our trails.  One snake often seen and feared is the Northern Water Snake.

Northern watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon) are non-venomous snakes that are commonly mistaken for cottonmouths (aka water moccasins). They are fairly dark-colored snakes and may include brown, tan, or grayish colors. The coloration is much more vivid in juvenile snakes, or when mature snakes are wet. Their back and sides have a series of squarish blotches that alternate and sometimes merge to form bands.

According to UGA, northern watersnakes are found throughout eastern and central North America, but in Georgia they are restricted to the piedmont and mountainous regions. You can distinguish a Northern watersnake from a cottonmouth/water moccasin by the fact that there are NO cottonmouths/water moccasins found in Cobb County. However, whether you encounter a venomous or non-venomous snake, the best course of action is to admire from a distance and allow the snake to move along on its own.

Despite the relatively low level of danger posed by venomous snakes, many people consider their fear, no matter how irrational, justification for killing any snake. Venomous and non-venomous snakes serve invaluable roles in the natural environment as predator and prey. In Georgia, it is illegal (a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail) to possess or kill many of the state’s nongame wildlife species, including non-venomous snakes (O.C.G.A. §27-1-28). It is also illegal to disturb or destroy the dens, holes or homes of wildlife or use explosives, chemicals or other devices to drive wildlife, including venomous snakes, from those homes. 

The vast majority of snake bites in this country occur because someone was trying to capture or kill a snake.  Remember, if you are close enough to attack or injure a snake, it is close enough to you to strike.  It is best to admire snakes from a distance and allow both snake and person to return home safely.