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Snakes appear on Homewood streets

Posted by Elwin Green on October 7, 2013 at 3:25 PM

 



Is Homewood being infested with snakes, and if so, are they dangerous?

 

Shawn Carter, Councilman Ricky V. Burgess's chief of staff, moved to Homewood a couple of weeks ago, and called me this morning to say that in recent weeks, he has seen numerous snakes in Homewood. They have all been dead, having been run over by vehicles, but still...

 

"I've never seen snakes in Homewood," he said, referring to his childhood here. "I'd like to know where they're coming from."

 

He said that he would call the City's animal control division, but did not sound confident about the outcome.

 

"We bait for rodents, but I don't know if we bait for snakes."

 

He expressed special concern that the snakes may be copperheads, which are venomous. I tried calling the Pittsburgh Zoo for insight about what snakes might be in Homewood, but as of this writing, I have not yet reached anyone in herpetology.


After speaking with Mr Carter, I took a walk, and didn't have to go far to confirm his report. I took the picture above on Homewood Avenue at Fuschia Way.


Have you noticed snakes in Homewood lately? If so, where? If enough people report them, perhaps we can get a better idea of where most of them are, where they might be coming from, and how to avoid them.

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4 Comments

Reply kxm
7:34 PM on October 7, 2013 
I'd guess that's an Eastern Garter snake: http://www.paherps.com/herps/snakes/garter_snake/

You're not likely to see a copperhead even if you were looking for one:
"While the northern copperhead is most certainly venomous, its secretive nature and relative small size make a tragedy unlikely. According to U. S. Poison Control centers, the chance of fatality from a copperhead bite is about 1 in 5,000. Experts out looking for copperheads encounter them infrequently." http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/hunting-fishing/venomo
us-copperheads-inhabit-western-pennsylvanias-woodlands-but-expert
s-say-they-pose-no-cause-for-panic-300738/

The easily identifiable copperhead is the ONLY venomous snake in our region. (See links below, there are only 3 venomous in PA.) All snakes would prefer to leave you alone and would like it very much if you would return the favor. ALL of the rest of the snakes you will see in Allegheny Co. are not only HARMLESS, they are ridding your neighborhood of rodents that can cause damage to your homes and spread disease. Leave the snakes and you won't need to "bait for rodents." (Poisoned rodents can kill things that eat them, like birds or cats, or the bait can be eaten by non-rodents, including pets.)

Educate yourselves and live and let live... Unless you have a snake living in your home, you probably don't need to "do anything" about them, and if you do have one in your house, there are totally humane ways to have a snake removed from your home aside from killing it.

"Ideally, people should take precautions to prevent snakes from entering dwellings. Sealing openings and cracks especially at or near ground level is an excellent preventive measure. Removing debris in the yard or moving the wood pile farther from the house can also help. Snakes have biological needs such as food and cover that must be met for them to remain in a location. If those needs are not met, they move on. [?] The next time you see a snake in the backyard or crossing a road, respect it for what it is, what it does, and allow it to continue on its way." http://fishandboat.com/factsnake.pdf

See also:
http://fishandboat.com/anglerboater/2012ab/vol81num1_janfeb/08pla
y04.pdf
http://www.paherps.com/herps/snakes/

"While the northern copperhead is most certainly venomous, its secretive nature and relative small size make a tragedy unlikely. According to U. S. Poison Control centers, the chance of fatality from a copperhead bite is about 1 in 5,000. Experts out looking for copperheads encounter them infrequently." http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/hunting-fishing/venomo
us-copperheads-inhabit-western-pennsylvanias-woodlands-but-expert
s-say-they-pose-no-cause-for-panic-300738/#ixzz2h4IGLK5r
Reply Elwin Green
7:56 PM on October 7, 2013 
Thanks for the enlightenment!
Reply Ivanna
3:37 PM on October 10, 2013 
I do believe they are "young" copperheads.
Reply bob
7:31 PM on July 15, 2014 
that is a young black rat snake. common harmless snake found in most wooded areas . many in frick park. Not a copperhead those have hourglass bands of brown tan copper . young copperheads also have a distinct yellow tail.

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In October 2005, after a bullet came through his living room window, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Elwin Green began writing "My Homewood," the first blog on the P-G's website. For 4 1/2 years, "My Homewood" shared stories of tragedy and beauty, of perplexity and hope - stories that live again in "The Homewood Chronicles."

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