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Learn about Snakes | See How They Live

North Carolina is home to 38 different species of snakes, six of which are venomous. Each species has distinct characteristics, behaviors and habitats. Learn more about some common North Carolina snakes and how they live.


Copperheads are venomous snakes that use heat sensors located between the eyes and nostrils to detect their prey. They are considered medium size snakes and grow to between 2 and 3 feet long. Copperheads have a distinct pattern that is made up of brown or reddish-brown hourglass shapes. While copperheads enjoy a large habitat and can survive in a variety of ecosystems, they tend to prefer forests and wooded areas. In more populated parts of North Carolina, Copperheads will find shelter under boards, flat rocks and even sheet metal. 

Scientists classify copperheads as ambush predators. They will lay in wait until prey comes nearby and they are able to strike it and deliver venom. Once the prey has died, the copperhead will track it down and consume it. Common prey includes: rats, mice, birds, lizards, snakes, frogs, turtles, cicadas and grasshoppers.

Eastern Rat Snake

The eastern rat snake was formerly known as the black rat snake because of its black scales. This snake has an average length of 3.5 to 7 feets. They are common in all sorts of habitats and can be found in woods, fields, farmland and suburban areas. Eastern rat snakes are not venomous and can climb trees and swim to find rodents, frogs, lizards and birds to eat. They are constrictors, which means that they use their body to squeeze and suffocate their prey. During the winter months, eastern rat snakes become fairly dormant and only wake up for essential activities.

While eastern rat snakes aren’t dangerous, they often frighten people. However, they aren’t known to attack and will usually avoid humans. If you come across an eastern rat snake, you may notice a foul smell, which they emit when they are scared. The smell is meant to deter predators by imitating what poison might taste like.

Garter Snake

One of the most common snakes in North Carolina, is the garter snake. It can be difficult to identify since it comes in a wide variety of colors including brown, black, gray, olive or reddish. The snakes most distinguishing feature is three stripes that run the length of the body and resemble garters, which is where the snake got its name. Garter snakes can be found anywhere there is plant material, rocks or logs to provide shelter.

Garter snakes are medium-sized snakes that grow to be about 3 to 4 feet long. They hunt for frogs, toads, fish, salamanders and worms. Humans don’t have to worry about garter snakes since they aren’t venomous or aggressive. 

If you need help removing snakes from in and around your home, call the experts at PMi Pest Management. We can quickly identify the species of snake and make sure that it is safely removed from your property.

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