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Surge in snakes finding their way into local homes

Snakes are slithering their way into Walterboro-area homes and businesses; this is a scary problem that one reptile expert blames on the heavy summer rains and a recent showing of cold weather.

Dennis Morris, owner of Cooters-R-Us in Cottageville, says his calls to wrangle snakes out of people’s homes has skyrocketed in recent months: he has removed 15-20 snakes in the last few weeks, with most of those snakes being inside Walterboro city limits. “I’ve done more calls this year inside the city of Walterboro than out in the country,” he said. “They are retreating out of the Great Swamp (Sanctuary) and finding their way into neighborhoods and businesses.” One of those snakes found its way last week into Griffin Jewelers. Another was found wrapped around a pipe inside The Colletonian. Nearly a half-dozen stories of snakes on front-porch stoops and under carports have also filtered into The Colletonian newsroom.

Colleton County Animal and Environmental Control has also received multiple calls in the last two weeks from law enforcement officers at the scene of scared residents. 9-1-1 Dispatchers are also getting direct calls from residents asking for snake removal, said Bill Pritchard, animal control officer with Colleton County Environmental and Animal Control. “We don’t do snakes,” Pritchard said with a laugh. According to Pritchard, the county assists with snake removal in businesses because it’s a matter of “public nuisance,” but not with private homeowners. That’s when Morris steps in. “A few were venomous – one was a copperhead and others were rattlers. Most were chicken snakes,” Morris said about his recent wrangled reptiles. He operates on a catch-and-release policy.

According to him, the summer’s heavy rains are forcing snakes to seek drier land, for both nesting and for food. “Their environment is too wet for their own food sources, and for their own comfort,” he said. Morris is urging people to plug any holes that lead into their houses. He also suggests putting moth balls under your home and around the exterior crawl space, but only in places safe enough for pets. “I’ve seen them come into houses through cable wire holes,” said Morris. “I’ve even had a 3-and-a-half foot wide snake come in through a ½-inch hole and find its way into the laundry room. Bathroom piping is especially dangerous.”

“People are scared when they call me,” he added. “9-1-1 dispatchers are calling, and homeowners who find the snakes and people who just want their wetter pockets of property checked out. It’s been busy.”

Anyone who finds a snake inside their home or business should either call 9-1-1 for law enforcement assistance, or contact a reptile removal service.

Heather Walters (1410 Posts)