Florence’s rains flushed snakes out of their homes

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, more snakes have been reported in flooded areas and more veterinarians are seeing pets that have been bitten by venomous snakes.  

Hurricane Florence did more than flood out people from their homes.

Snakes, including venomous ones, have also been displaced from their homes

“Snakes have been affected in a very similar way, like a lot of people and other types of wildlife,” said Falyn Owens of the North Carolina Department of Wildlife.

The snakes have turned up in unexpected places because they have been washed out from their usual habitats. 

According to Owens, “I’d say the chance of seeing a snake in an area where you would not necessarily expect to see one has increased.”

And it’s not just people that snakes are running into.

Dr. Kady Gjessing of Quail Corners Animal Hospital has treated a lot more pets recently from snake bites.  

“Last week and the week before , when it was raining so much, we did get more snake bites coming in,” Gjessing said.

So, how does the family pet get bitten? 

Owen says there is a difference between cats and dogs. 

“When cats get bit, they tend to do this tapping, so with a cat, we usually see them get bit in the front legs or paws.” 

However, with Florence’s rain, Gjessing saw mostly dog bites.

“The dogs, they’re a little bit more yahoo.  They go and put their face in the snake, so when dogs get snake bites, it’s usually the face, neck, or chest on dogs,” Gjessing said. 

Cats or dogs – most bites are very painful but not lethal, if treated. 

Most North Carolina snakes are non-venomous but the recent flooding has brought out more copperheads that can be found swimming in water or hiding under debris from the storm. 

So the best advice Owens says is, “if you see one, leave it alone. If you leave them alone they’ll leave you alone, give it a wide berth. They really don’t want to bother people.”

So now that the flood waters have receded, the question remains – will the wayward snakes go back to hiding and away from us?”

“It’s a very temporary thing. As the waters recede and that water goes back to normal. These animals have pretty strong homing instincts, they want to go back home,” Owens said.

North Carolina has 37 species of snakes, with only six of them venomous. 

For information on coexisting with snakes, check out this link from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

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