Living in Savannah, we tend to be a little more familiar with St. Patrick than most. But did he really banish all the snakes from Ireland? The post-glacial fossil record indicates there were no snakes present for him to banish. However, for many years, our neighbors in Claxton and across the country have held an annual Rattlesnake Roundup with just this intention in mind.
Snakes, particularly the rattlesnakes featured at these events, are not a favorite animal to most, but they serve an important purpose in controlling the rodent populations. While a few rattlesnake roundups continue, the famed Claxton version recently has shifted gears to a general wildlife conservation focus. The snakes are still there, but now they help tell the story of over-hunting and its consequences. Snakes might give you the heebie-jeebies instead of the warm-and-fuzzies, but ridding the island of snakes would not be cause for celebration, as it causes rodent populations and the diseases they carry to explode. In fact, areas that were successful in eradicating snakes now are having to reintroduce them, as the cost for controlling rodents is extremely high.
Please don’t try to touch or handle wild animals when you find them. If you see a snake in your yard or on the Landings Nature Trail, the best thing to do is back away, giving the snake the opportunity to escape unharmed. Did you know that of the 42 snake species found in Georgia, only six are venomous?
I suggest bookmarking the link http://srelherp.uga.edu/snakes/ on your mobile devices to help you quickly and easily identify any snake you may encounter in our area. It may not make you love snakes, but hopefully understanding their vital role in the environment, and even to public health, will make you appreciate their existence -- and it doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!
This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website. Visit landings.org to read the original article. https://landings.org/news/2019/02/20/conservation-corner