ATLANTA — It's snake season in Georgia and if you're outside, sooner or later, you're likely to see one slither by you.
But with 46 different kinds of snakes here, how do you know which ones you need to worry about? There are six types of venomous snake in Georgia.
Here in metro Atlanta, you're only likely to see one -- the copperhead.
So that's exactly what Jason Clark with Southeastern Reptile Rescue wanted to help us identify.
"When you leave your home, when you step out of your front door, you're stepping into their home," Clark said.
And it's a home most of us don't know much about.
"People know a lot about dogs. Most people don't know anything about snakes. So, they take their knowledge of dogs and transfer it on to snakes; and they believe that if they see an aggressive snake - there is no such thing - they think that if they run, the snake will chase them," Clark said. "Absolutely not true. If you see a snake, remain calm, and walk, run, cartwheel, do whatever you want, that snake will not chase you!"
According to the Wildlife Center at the University of Florida, around 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes every year.
An Alabama man died earlier in May after a copperhead bit him, but Clark said that's incredibly rare -- and most snake bites can be avoided altogether.
"The only way you can get bit by a venomous snake is if you put yourself too close to the snake," he said.
The vast majority of snakes in Georgia are non-venomous. But Clark said it's actually really hard to tell them apart.
"Looking at the shape of a snake's head, the diamond or triangle head, that is a myth," he said. "Venomous snakes do have that shape head, but nonvenomous snakes can move the bones in their head into that shape to look dangerous."
Another myth: That snakes like it hot. He said you're more likely to see a snake at dusk after it's cooled down a bit.
You can tell venomous and non-venomous snakes apart by their eye shape, but he said you probably don't want to get close enough to look.
"Is it bad to be afraid of snakes? No," Clark said. "That's what keeps you alive. You want to have respect."
Clark said he thinks most people are afraid of snakes because they don't know much about them. But the bottom line is if you see a snake, leave it alone and just keep walking.
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