butterflymomok(7a NE OK)June 24, 2013

I like having rat snakes, garden snakes, etc. But I'm not too keen on Copperheads and Water moccasins, especially when my young grandsons will be visiting. I have been mowing and weed-eating to keep everything down low. But while sitting on the back wooden stoop, a small patterned snake came out from under the stoop. Not sure if it was a Copperhead or not. Didn't stay around to see. I've done a lot of research on snake habits and read about repellents--don't want to kill any snakes. I plan to instruct the boys on wearing shoes, not going out barefoot in the dark, and staying away from brush piles left over from the storm. But, the fact of the matter is that there are snakes out at the acreage due to the rocks around the property and the pond behind the house. Am I being a worry wart? The neighbor stepped on a Copperhead in his back yard after dark. Put him in the hospital for several days. Any advice on making my grandsons trip to the country a pleasant and safe one? They are 7 and 4, and into everything.

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You might buy them a pair of boots which will give greater protection. Maybe you might supply them with "special expedition walking sticks" to poke through weeds before they walk. At that age I bet they'd love it.

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 10:09AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

George, thanks for the ideas! A pair of Cowboy boots for each boy, and I already have some walking sticks they can use. Great ideas. I appreciate your response.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 3:45PM
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If you tell boys to watch out for snakes, they hear "go out and look for snakes". At least that was how I was when I was a kid.

It is my understanding that Copperheads do not have a very big area as their territory. In other words they do not travel about a lot. The exception is probably during breeding season. The way I deal with them around my home and garden is to go out at night with a very bright flashlight and hunt them down with a machete. I do this on multiple nights until I no longer can find any. Repeat every few weeks. (At night under the light of a flashlight they are very easy to see.)

Now I can understand anyone not wanting to kill the snakes. They have an important place in the ecosystem. (I only kill them close to the home and garden. Elsewhere I leave them be.) So, an alternative I guess would be a catch and release program using a flashlight and some type of catch stick or net. Ah, that would have it's own sort of excitement and adventure I'm sure;-) But if you have the gumption to do it, that would be a good alternative to killing them. You would reduce their numbers just the same and reduce the opportunity of chance encounters.

I grew up with a couple of twins who lived in an area with a huge number of rattlesnakes and copperheads. The road they lived on had very little traffic. They had strict instructions to play in the road only. They got a spanking if they got off into the yard and played. Sounds odd at first, but made a lot of sense under the circumstances. You could see and hear any traffic coming, but the snakes were often hard to see until it was potentially too late. That place had an absolutely huge population of venomous snakes.

Good luck how ever you handle it. It sounds like you are instructing them on how to be careful in snake country. That will be useful information for them during their visit and for years to come.

One last thought came to me as I was previewing what I wrote. What you could do is go over the area with a flashlight over several nights ahead of their visit. If you find several venomous snakes, but can't bring yourself to kill or catch them, then you can restrict the boys to a smaller area where it is safe. If you find none, then that should relieve some of your concern. They will still need to be careful of course, but you have taken that extra bit of precaution to understand the amount of risk that is present.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 4:54PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Copperheads come in my yard in July in the evenings. I cut one open once - split it from end to end with a razor blade and found 14 cicada and nothing else. Since then every early July late June I spray with a hose end sprayer under the elm tree which is where I always saw the copperheads. Look for the cicada shed skeletons and if you have several you have gourmet copperhead food in your yard. The timetable may be earlier for you. I also saw a copperhead chase a big clumsy beetle that was buzzing around my porch light and landed in a nandina near the porch. The copperheads are under things in the day and come out in the evening. They will let you step on them don't run or move away. I think they may be like rabbits being still may be what they do since they blend in so well in leaves or rocks. I don't kill most snakes but I don't think you have to have copperheads in your yard putting you in danger so I would kill them. They aren't rare here.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 5:39PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Thanks for all the good information. Scott, I think I will talk to my husband about going out and checking around the house at night. If he can't do it, Son may enjoy the outing. Don't know if we have a machete around--will check.

Helen, interesting information. There are lots of snakes, even with the previous owner shooting all the copperheads and water moccasins that he found. I prefer to leave them in areas where the boys won't be running around, so will check all the areas where the boys will want to hang out.

Thanks! This gives me something I can do to at least make it less likely that the boys will encounter poisonous snakes. I need the snakes around to get rid of the gopher and mole population. And, I don't know if they go after scorpions, but they inhabit the area too, and get in the house. Sticky traps will be put out, as I found a live scorpion in one of the closets today. Slippers at night, flashlights, and shaking out shoes will be things we will need to remember during the time at the farm. Hoping the good times outweigh the rules!


    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 5:59PM
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