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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Connecticut DEEP: Snakes live here too



It is the "Year of the Snake" in
Connecticut and it's their state too

HARTFORD - The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection issued a release "reminding residents that snakes are starting to come out of their winter dens at the same time people are venturing outdoors to enjoy the nicer weather, start yard work, or participate in various outdoor activities like hiking."
  "Snake encounters can be alarming for some people, especially if they do not understand how harmless, yet important these creatures are to the natural world," the release said
Most importantly: "Gartersnakes are harmless to people and are NOT venomous."
“Snakes are probably some of the most misunderstood animals,” Laura Saucier, a wildlife technician with the DEEP Wildlife Division said, also in the release.  “There is no need to fear or hate these reptiles.  If you leave snakes alone, they will leave you alone.”
Further, the release said: "One of the earliest snakes to be encountered by people in spring is the common gartersnake.  This snake is perhaps the most common, widely distributed, and familiar of all North American snakes.  It is found throughout Connecticut, from sea level to the highest elevations, and from urban to rural areas.  The gartersnake is marked with a pattern of three light stripes on a dark body, and the belly is yellow and pale green.  Adults range in size between 18 and 26 inches in length."
"The closely related common ribbonsnake resembles the gartersnake in appearance and habits.  However, the ribbonsnake is less common in our state and is listed as a species of special concern."
More on the little snake that could:

"The gartersnake is extremely cold resistant. It is active earlier in spring and later in fall than other snakes. Ideally, snakes prefer temperatures around 75 degrees.  However, snakes, especially the males, will come out in lower temperatures in early spring.  At this time, snakes are focused on two things – finding a mate and finding food.
Gartersnakes feed mainly on amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders), but will also eat earthworms, mice, small fish, nestling birds, small snakes, and a variety of insects and spiders.  Feeding usually occurs during daylight, but gartersnakes will also hunt for food in the mornings or evenings, and at night in hotter months and during the amphibian breeding period.  After successfully capturing and eating a meal, a snake will find a place to hide and digest.
The gartersnake’s success is due to its opportunistic nature to both habitat use and food habits.  This snake uses a variety of habitats, such as deciduous forests; forest edges; fields; swamps; bogs; stream, river, and pond edges; hedgerows; overgrown lawns; and grassy areas.  Snakes are often seen basking on wood piles, stone walls, hedges, and rocks."

More:
Gartersnakes... "occasionally they will enter homes and outbuildings in search of food.  A snake found in the home can be easily and safely removed.  A pair of garden gloves is sufficient protection from gartersnake bites.  The snakes have long teeth for their size; a bite on an unprotected hand is not dangerous but can be painful.  The snake should be picked up carefully to avoid excessive squeezing. Snakes have delicate bodies and are easily injured.  Place the snake in a cloth bag and release it in an area not far from the point of capture so the snake will be in familiar territory.  To discourage snakes from entering buildings, make sure all cracks in the foundation are sealed.  Basement windows should close tight or be covered with screens.  Gartersnakes do not require large openings to gain entrance."
.  One of the best ways to learn more about snakes during the “Year of the Snake” is to subscribe to the DEEP’s Connecticut Wildlife magazine (www.ct.gov/deep/wildlifemagazine).  You also can visit DEEP’s Year of the Snake webpage at www.ct.gov/deep/YearoftheSnake.2013 – Year of the Snake


Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed

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