Snakebite story had some inaccuracies

Published 8:17 am Friday, June 8, 2012

Dear Editor,

I usually enjoy reading Mrs. Joyce Kramer’s columns. I especially liked her recent series about Fort Gadsden. However, I was surprised to read the inaccuracies in her most recent article about venemous snakes in south Georgia. I felt compelled to write in, to help others learn some simple rules to enjoy snakes safely.

Although I wish it were different, there are more members of the venemous Viperidae family here than just water moccasins. We also have three different type of rattlesnakes (canebreak, eastern diamondback and pygmy) and copperheads to boot!

Also, there is a pretty good way to identify from a distance all the poisonous ones except the coral snake. Rattlesnakes, water moccasins and copperheads all have: (1) spade-shaped heads and (2) vertical ellipitcal pupils just like a cat’s eyes. You can usually tell the shape of the snake’s head and eyes from a safe distance, so when you see a snake, teach yourself to look first at the head and pupils.

In contrast, all but one of the non-poisonous snakes around here have a rounded head and round pupils. The one exception here is the coral snake, as they have a rounded head and round pupils. But coral snakes are fairly rare, shy and non-agressive. If you are fortunate enough to see one you can identify them from other red, yellow and black-banded non-poisonous snakes by following the “red to yellow, kill a fellow” rule. In other words, if on both sides of a red band you see yellow bands, stay away.

I enjoy seeing snakes as part of God’s creation here in South Georgia and these simple guidelines have helped me to not overreact to every snake I see.

Steve Wann