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Animal Control Corner

Weston's Animal Control Officer Karen O'Reilly has posted helpful tips, FAQs, and other items of interest regarding Weston's wildlife, farm animals, and house pets.

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Jul 09

Our Slithering, Sunbathing, Sidekicks: Ssssssnakes!

Posted on July 9, 2019 at 10:48 AM by Kara Fleming

These cold blooded, sun lovers can be seen throughout Weston all summer long. Though they get a pretty bad rap, these wonderful reptiles provide a valuable service for our homes and gardens. Plus, most of the snakes in Massachusetts are not venomous.

Many snakes have suffered from habitat loss and condemnation. Of the 14 native species in Massachusetts, three species are listed as endangered and one is listed as threatened.

The two snakes most commonly spotted are the garter snake and milk snake. Both are harmless…unless you’re a mouse. Snakes are carnivores and will eat small mammals, amphibians, worms, and insects. This makes them welcomed friends in our gardens.

garter snake
The Eastern garter snake is often mistakenly called “garden” snakes because that’s where they are often found. They can be identified by spotting the long stripes that runs down the length of their bodies. They'll eat small mammals and insects.

milk snake
Milk snakes are most often found in fields or rocky areas and at the edge of wetlands. It can be identified through its brown, tan and reddish mottled color pattern. They primarily eat small mammals.

There are only two venomous species, the timber rattlesnake and northern copperhead, but they are very rare. MassAudubon has a great web page with identifications for all of the native snake species of Massachusetts.

Often, people will see a snake basking in the sun or slither under a rock. This is because snakes are ecotherms, which means they rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature. If you encounter a snake remember that they wish to avoid people. They generally will only bite when they are provoked or otherwise threatened. Snakes do not carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

While many people enjoy the novelty of seeing a wild snake out in nature, some do not, particularly if the snake is sunning itself on their patios. If you wish to dissuade a snake from using your area as a sunning space, MassAudubon is a resource of information to help you out.