City Cast

How to Deal With Snake Season

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on June 15
An itty bitty teeny tiny DeKay's brownsnake. (mynewturtle/Getty Images)

An itty bitty teeny tiny DeKay's brownsnake. (mynewturtle/Getty Images)

Summer in D.C. is a slithery affair. Last year, someone found a five-foot-long black eastern rat snake in Georgetown. Another snake was spotted slithering up a window in Logan Circle. And this little guy was patiently waiting for his turn at the crosswalk. But, are they friend or foe?

What types of snakes live in D.C.? The DMV has about 15 different species of snakes, the most common of which is the DeKay's brownsnake. It’s only a foot long and lives off slugs (awww). Other common snakes include the garter snake, the eastern black rat snake, and the northern water snake, all of which are harmless to humans.

A copperhead snake, Best to leave these alone, they’re poisonous. (NurPhoto/Getty Images)

A copperhead snake, Best to leave these alone, they’re poisonous. (NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Are there any snakes we should be scared of? Copperhead snakes are the only venomous snake in the area. There have been some confirmed sightings in the city, but for the most part, they keep to themselves in Rock Creek Park. Caroline Seitz from the Virginia Herpetological Society says, “They are afraid of people. If you leave Copperheads alone, they'll leave you alone.”

What do you do if you see a snake (besides post it on social media)? If you encounter one outside, keep a safe distance (about 6 feet), snap a selfie, and let it live its wiggly little life. If one is in your home, stay on the safe side and don’t touch it. Seitz advises using a long-handled broom to sweep it out. Or, if you can get it contained in a box, call an animal control company.

No matter what, Seitz says, don’t panic. Snakes avoid humans when possible. “They don't want to chase you. They don't want anything to do with you. They just want to live their happy little snake lives in peace,” she said.

P.S. Hear more nerdy (and humorous) snake content on yesterday's podcast episode.

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