There are nearly 4,000 species of snakes on earth, and despite what most people think, very few are dangerous. Snakes are helpful because they eat rats and mice that don’t belong in the house. These are the same rodents that transmit Lyme disease through ticks.
In addition, snakes are an essential part of the food chain, since thanks to their hunting strategies, they ambush to feed on pests such as locusts, which are difficult to catch. If you’ve ever seen a bunch of locusts destroy a field of growing crops, you definitely know how helpful a snake can be!
That’s why you should learn which snakes to be afraid of, as most would rather help you around the house than harm you! Below are the common snakes that eat mice and other pesky rodents.
Black Rat Snake
The non-venomous black rat snake has a long, black body and a white abdomen.
©Andrew F. Kazmierski/Shutterstock.com
The non-venomous black rat snake has a long, black body and a white abdomen. If you’re looking for one, the mountains and shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay are the best places to look. Originally, the black rat snake came from Ohio, South Carolina and Kentucky. Black rat snakes are light gray with black spots on their backs.
People often call this snake a “pilot snake” because of the mistaken belief that it guides venomous snakes to warm roosting spots in winter.
What are the predators of a black rat snake?
Foxes, owls and hawks are the main enemies of black rat snakes. To ward off predators, it curls up its body and makes a rattlesnake-like sound with its tail as it moves through dead foliage. To deter predators from eating them, they can also produce a foul-smelling substance when ingested or handled. Black rat snakes are reported to be one of the most aggressive rat snake species.
What Does a Black Rat Snake Eat?
Small rodents, including mice, rats, moles, and chipmunks, are the main food sources for black rat snakes. They have also been observed eating frogs, lizards and bird eggs.
They kill their prey by constriction, which means the snake wraps its body around the victim and holds it there until the victim dies of asphyxiation. The prey is swallowed whole and slowly digested over several days.
Northern Copperhead Snake
The northern copperhead snake has reddish or brown transverse bands that are wide on the sides and narrow in the middle.
The body of this stunning copper-colored, two-tone snake is covered in eye-catching hourglass patterns.
The northern copperhead snake has reddish or brown transverse bands that are wide on the sides and narrow in the middle. The scales are keeled and the belly is pink with darker markings. The spade-shaped or triangular head of this venomous snake is a distinctive feature.
Another distinguishing feature is a “pit” between the eyes and nostrils on each side of the head. Typically, Copperheads are between 24 and 37 inches long. Young copperheads have bright yellow tail tips, making them easy to spot.
How Do Copperheads Breed?
Copperheads spend the rest of the year in burrows and are active from April to October. Other snakes often coexist in these burrows. Copperheads will begin looking for mates soon after leaving their burrows. When this snake is four years old, it will become sexually mature.
Because it is ovoviviparous, the eggs stay inside the mother until they hatch. Females can typically produce 2-10 snakes. Since adults do not care for their young after birth, they are left to their own devices.
Where do Copperheads live and what do they eat?
Copperheads prefer steep terrain over low-lying locations. They are mainly found at the edges of meadows, on screes, on rocky slopes and along basalt ridges. Marshes, creeks and marshes often surround the fields. Burrows are generally found in deep, damp, wooded environments near wetlands.
Copperheads lay still in leaf litter as they waited for their prey. They primarily eat mice and other small rodents, although they may also eat insects, small birds, and other reptiles and amphibians.
Gopher snakes are usually solitary.
The six subspecies of the gopher snake are primarily found in western North America, southern Canada, and northern Mexico. They are carnivores that thrive in arid environments below 2,000 feet. While not venomous, their bites are painful to their prey and help the snakes immobilize small animals like birds and gophers. This snake can grow up to 9 feet long and is mostly calm.
What Are the Behavioral Characteristics of a Gopher Snake?
Gopher snakes are usually solitary. According to a 2003 study conducted in Copeia, they have home ranges. Although small (less than a quarter of a mile), the snakes stay with them for many years.
Although gopher snakes are mainly active during the day, they can sometimes be seen moving and hunting at night. They are skilled burrowers and climbers.
Coyotes, foxes, and red-tailed hawks are the most common predators of gopher snakes. Sometimes larger king snakes also consumed them. Gopher snakes often camouflage themselves with their surroundings. As a result, people frequently step on them. When threatened, they hiss loudly, flatten their heads and vibrate their tails.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources says gopher snakes often lie on streets in the sun, putting them at risk of being hit by cars. They like to take up all the space on the highway. Instead of scrambling to safety off the road when threatened, they curl up and assume an aggressive position.
What Do Gopher Snakes Eat?
The gopher snake is considered a farmer’s best pal. Gopher snakes prey on small rodents that can ruin crops due to their propensity for digging. They also eat small birds and even bats. These snakes are the ideal deterrent for rodents attracted to pet food, fertilizer and garden crops in sheds, barns and greenhouses.
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