A west Tennessee child was bitten a copperhead snake this weekend, just outside the door of the house.
Copperheads are one of the two types of venomous snakes in the Upper Cumberland. TWRA Biodiversity Coordinator Chris Simpson said timber rattlesnakes and copperheads are still around, but will be making the move to their dens as colder nights continue. Simpson said while snakes might be looking for a place to keep warm, keeping them away from a home can be avoided.
“Close up holes, inspect your foundation for holes, remove the debris from right around the house,” Simpson said. “Remove the wood piles, remove the leaf piles away from the base of the house you know, have an open landscape where you could see what you’re dealing with.”
Simpson said it’s more likely to find a venomous snake under rocks, in ground depressions and under logs this time of year. While leaf piles might attract a snake, Simpson said snakes look for a deeper den.
“Snakes are ectothermic meaning they need their heat from the outside versus mammals which are endothermic,” Simpson said. “They’re gonna need to get a little bit more deeper in the ground than just under some leaves to maintain some body heat to make it through the winter.”
Timber rattlesnakes and copperheads might seem frightening to humans, but Simpson said they play a vital role in the Upper Cumberland’s ecosystem. Although, Simpson said there is an ally in the snake family for anyone concerned about a run-in with a venomous snake.
“The Upper Cumberland has a lot of king snakes, and king snakes are good to have around,” Simpson said. “They eat all other snakes, including venomous snakes.”
Simpson said to turn and back away if a venomous snake does make its way near youre home, and then visit the TWRA website to find your nearest Wildlife Damage Control Operator. It is illegal to kill or capture a snake in Tennessee.