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Snake ID And Control

I don’t like being up close and personal with snakes, especially since it’s hard to determine which snakes are poisonous. The rattlesnake easily makes his presence known, but for others – well, you have to get a little closer to them.

Brian MacGowan is an extension wildlife specialist at Purdue University. He says another way to tell if a creepy crawler spits venom is to look into its eyes.

"In all parts of the United States with the exception of the southeast where we have coral snakes, all of our venomous species are pit vipers. They belong to that family and so they all have cat-like pupils, very elliptical pupils as opposed to round," says MacGowen. "Pit vipers, as the name implies, have a special sensory pit between and below the eyes and nostril on each side."           

In the U.S., the snakes that are potentially harmful include rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths, coral snakes, and sea snakes. Non-poisonous snakes may still bite, but most only strike if they’re cornered or provoked.

One way to catch a scaly scoundrel is by putting out a glue trap, which is a cardboard box with sticky stuff on the bottom.

"They kind of crawl in that box because a lot of snakes kind of look for those highways for cover and they get stuck to the box.  And then you can take them out to an area and pour vegetable oil on them," he says. "It reverses the adhesive action and then the next time that snake sheds its skin, it’ll be totally clean of all that stuff."

If you’re dead-set on killing it, the only lethal measure recommended is using a long-handled shovel or hoe to sever the head from the body. DO NOT handle the head right after killing it. You can still be bitten from reflex action.

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