A snake in your garden: what to do and what not to do.
With the arrival of summer, it is not uncommon to come across a snake in your garden. We interviewed an expert on this unjustly maligned animal to find out the right reflexes to adopt.
"They need to regulate their temperature according to the external environment
- A specialist tells us that encounters with snakes are due to their biological system: "Snakes are ectothermic, unlike us who are endothermic and regulate our internal temperature. They need to regulate their temperature according to that of the external environment. To be warm, they look for warm places. When the warm weather arrives, they come out of hibernation and expose themselves to the first rays of the sun. As soon as the temperatures become too hot, they seek coolness. This is where they can be found, in cool areas, such as swimming pool counters or garages".
Adders and grass snakes that can be distinguished
- To distinguish a viper from a snake, you have to observe the head of the animal. The first criterion is the pupil, which is round in the snake and slit vertically like that of a cat in the viper. The viper is rather large and stocky, and its tail stands out quite well from the rest of the body. The snake is quite thin and long. The viper is maximum 95 cm long. The last criterion is on the head: the viper has many scales while the snake has 9 large plates.
A role in the ecosystem
- Alexandre Roux (our specialist) underlines: "These snakes have a role in the ecosystem. They feed on many species, not necessarily harmful, but which are at the base of the food chain. If they swarm they can cause disturbances and we need predators like snakes that feed on rodents. The latter are vectors of Lyme disease. In our area, the species are not aggressive. Although two species of garter snakes can be defensive when they feel threatened. This is an intimidation technique that concerns the green and yellow snake, the most common in our country. It seeks to escape in general but if disturbed, it will not hesitate to seek confrontation. But it is not a dangerous animal".
Do not be afraid
- The reptile specialist presents the technique to adopt in case of confrontation with snakes: "If you find yourself face to face with a snake in the garden, it is normal. They are just as legitimate as lizards or robins. You shouldn't be afraid of having a snake in your garden. But if it ends up in an inhabited area, such as a house, you must first keep calm because the animal is not dangerous. You can contact specialists like SOS Serpents or others and ask them how to react. You should keep the snake in sight or lock it up in the room, making sure that there is no way out. This way, the experts you have called and who have been trained, can intervene. ".
Keeping your distance
He adds: "The attitude to adopt is not to try to get as close as possible, keep a distance of 1 meter, 1.50 meters. If you don't cross this safety distance, the animal won't feel attacked and won't need to defend itself. If you discover it inside a house, you should not try to remove it yourself if you don't know how to do it. You have to contact us. We have the possibility to control sometimes at a distance, in particular by accompanying the people on the phone or in video ".
Ideas for better cohabitation
- He gives some advice for a successful cohabitation: "The best way to cohabit is to set up areas for them. Snakes don't like golf course type gardens. To cohabit with them, you can leave a small area at the bottom of the garden with piles of wood, piles of stones and overgrown vegetation. This area will be favorable to them but also to other animals. Alexandre Roux recommends talking to children about snakes, but in the right tone of voice: "You shouldn't be afraid of snakes, even if mom and dad are. You shouldn't fear them, but you should try to get to know them. But you shouldn't touch them. You can observe them from a distance. These animals can represent a danger but in 2021 we do not die from a snake bite even if it is not a pleasant moment to be bitten".
Detach yourself from the collective imagination
- According to him, there is no danger with snakes as long as you leave them alone. Most people who are bitten have tried to capture or kill them, which is prohibited. Most bites are not dangerous. He concludes, "The snake suffers from a bad image with the general public, partly because it is physically very different from us. Most things that are foreign to us scare us. In the collective imagination, the history with snakes is not very bright, especially with Adam and Eve. In our culture, the snake is demonized, but in other cultures, especially in India, snakes are rather deities. The snake has a bad image overall because some species in the world are dangerous, and potentially deadly. But we must rehabilitate snakes.