Snakes lurk about as hibernation ends - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Snakes lurk about as hibernation ends

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Johnny Hayes holds up a nearly 5-foot long Copperhead he killed with his shoe last week. The 52-year-old Tyler man said the snake nearly hit the ground as he lifted it up with a pipe. Johnny Hayes holds up a nearly 5-foot long Copperhead he killed with his shoe last week. The 52-year-old Tyler man said the snake nearly hit the ground as he lifted it up with a pipe.

TYLER (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - Johnny Hayes, of Tyler, said his thoughts flew to family members as he opened his front door last week to see a roughly 5-foot-long Copperhead snake curled up on his welcome mat — before he smashed its head with his boot.

Hayes' wife, Dottie, usually let the pup out around that time at night, and Hayes said he was glad he was the one who opened the door. The 52-year-old said in his experience once a snake shows up once, it will keep coming back, and he didn't want to give a large, poisonous snake the opportunity to potentially bite his wife or any of his five grandchildren who love to play outside.

He didn't want to risk it getting away in the time it would have taken him to get his gun, so he lifted his foot over the snake's head, in his blind spot, until the snake sensed the intrusion and lifted his head up higher.

"I slammed down on his head and stayed on it and twisted and mashed," he said. "When I came off it, (the snake's head) was flat, and his tail was still flipping. I knew if I let up he might bite me, and as big as he was, he might kill me."

Yvonne Stainback, curator of birds and reptiles at Caldwell Zoo, said the reptiles are coming out of hibernation from the winter and will be more visible while the springtime weather is nice.

"They are seeing more snakes around because the weather is getting warmer and they are getting out …" she said. "Right now it's like 85 (degrees outside). Who doesn't want to be out at 85? It's nice, and the snakes think it's nice, too."

The snakes can be seen basking in the sunlight on rocks and asphalt during the spring, and as summer progresses, they will begin to avoid the hottest parts of the day to hunt at night, Ms. Stainback said.

Copperheads are the most commonly seen poisonous snake and are often found during this time of year as residents get into their gardens and begin to clean up leaves.

"They are naturally going to see more in leaves and litter where they (copperheads) camouflage,' Ms. Stainback said. "The leaves are where they feel the most secure."

They also can be found in old rodent holes, she said.

She said if a snake is nearby, the best thing to do is to avoid it or leave the area.

"A lot of people get hurt when they are killing them," she said. "You have to take that into consideration."

Looking back, Hayes said he reacted without thinking about the possibility of getting bit. He said even though he was not bit, he would think twice before killing a snake with his boot again.

"I read my Bible a lot, and it says we should be able to tread on the heads of serpents," he said. "I told my wife that must be a true statement. I'm just using the word of God and evidently he was with me because I didn't get bit, so it must be true."

 

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