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Snakes feeling amorous — just leave them be

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By Cindy Simpson

Snakes may seem to be on the prowl more than ever right now, but officials say don’t worry.

If it seems like more are around, it’s because they are feeling frisky. But they aren’t out to get closer to you.

“Right now it is breeding season for snakes, so they are on the move,” said TWRA region officer Chris Simpson.

Despite anecdotal reports of snake sightings, their numbers are not up.

“The population is about the same it’s always been,” Simpson said.

Roane County Animal Shelter Director John Griffin said it does seem like he’s seen more snakes along roadways and in general this summer, but said its not been overwhelming.

“It hasn’t been a crazy high number, but we have received more snake calls than the previous two years,” Griffin said.

Simpson said most of the snake sightings aren’t anything to worry about.

In fact, in Roane County only two of the four venomous snake breeds in the state are present.

Roane County has populations of timber rattlesnakes and copperheads.

Simpson said that the cottonmouth, or water moccasin, and pigmy rattlesnake are in West Tennessee, where the winters are more temperate.

Often people think they see a water moccasin when in actuality they see a similarly marked snake called a northern watersnake.

Griffin said he’s only removed one of the venomous breeds  — a copperhead — from a home.

“I believe it was a month ago. Also, a month ago, we had someone have a 4-foot non-venomous cornsnake in the desk of the home,” Griffin said.

Griffin said the snake didn’t want to be bothered and struck at him while trying to handle it.

Not messing with a snake is key. Griffin asks that anyone who needs to remove a snake contact the Roane County Animal Shelter because staff are trained to handle them.

Simpson recommends two websites to determine what kind of snake you may be seeing.

Both the Tennessee Herpetological Society’s website at  www.tnherpsociety.org and the TWRA’s website, www.tn.gov/twra/, have information about the various species of snakes in the state.

Poisonous snakes typically have heat sensing pits and elliptical pupils while nonvenomous snakes have round pupils and lack the heat sensing pits above the nostrils.

Both sites also have images of the various snakes that have habitats in the state.

A poster by the TWRA has images of each snake native to the state and additional information.