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By Rebecca Oliver

 

High temperatures came early this year to Alabama bringing with it the presence of snakes.

A rattlesnake was reported by a Moore's Mill Estate resident in Auburn May 14, and a second gray rat snake was reported by the same resident May 16.The resident killed both snakes fearing for the safety of her children playing outside.

Extension Specialist and Auburn University Professor Dr. Jim Armstrong said it is early in the season for there to be snake sightings.

"It's usually July or August before I start getting calls about snake sightings and people asking me to identify them, but the warmer weather gets snacks moving," he said.

Armstrong said that rattlesnakes are beneficial to the environment because they help keep rodents away from homes.

However, they can be dangerous if provoked. The snakes usually seek shaded areas and try to avoid interaction with humans but with their territory becoming smaller they are more likely to encounter human activity.

"The Moore's Mill area of Auburn has historically had more snakes present as compared to other areas near Auburn because of its rural landscape. The area is in transition from a rural landscape to being heavily developed, so snakes have fewer places to hide away from people's homes," he added.

Preventative measures, such as keeping grass and shrubbery cut, can be taken to keep rattlesnakes from entering yards.

"This doesn't completely eliminate the possibility of having rattlesnakes come into your yard but it deters rodents that snakes prey on and improves your ability to see rattlesnakes. Don't put your hands or feet in areas you can't see. Always look first," Armstrong said.