Snakes of West Virginia
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources biologist Jim Freganara knows more about snakes than just about anybody in the state.
"This is our official West Virginia state reptile and they come in different colors phases, this one is kind of yellowish, kind of grey, some will be almost all black.
They can live to be 35 to 40 years old, if he does rattle, all that means is you're in my space and leave me alone." say Freganara.
This guy is about 10, and the way he's acting is pretty typical, he's sticking his tongue out to get an idea of where he is, he is not agitated and really could care less if we were around or not. You can see, we're pretty close and even if he did want to strike, he can only strike half his body length. If you don't hear him, you might get him confused with other, non-venomous snakes.
"You can look at the shape of the head. This non-venomous snakes will have more of a spear heard, the rattlesnake will have more of a triangular head, but if you look at the eyes, if they have slits for eyes, that's going to be a rattlesnake or a copperhead." say Freganara.
While the timber rattlesnake isn't very aggressive, the other poisonous snake in the state is a little more dangerous.
"When you're around copperheads, you have to be extra careful. Rattlesnakes pretty much want to be left alone, they will coil and rattle, but copperheads are much more agitated and much more nervous." say Freganara.
The rattlesnake is more venomous than the copperhead, but neither get as long as the imposing black rat snake. Although it looks mean, it's not, and it does a lot of good, keeping the rodent population down where ever it goes...much like every other snake in the state.
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