By Russell Sellers, Army Flier Staff WriterSeptember 8, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 8, 2011) -- As the temperatures vary during the fall, snakes are more likely to have encounters with people in their search for food, water and shelter, according to Directorate of Public Safety officials.
Recently, police have been notified of several snake sightings or encounters in and around the housing areas here.
Two of those encounters were with rattlesnakes. While rattlesnakes are common in the Wiregrass area, there are many other types of snakes around, including both poisonous and non-poisonous.
"If you see a snake anywhere on post, the best thing to do is back away from it slowly and notify the police," said Sgt. Doug Johnson, Civilian Police patrol supervisor. "It doesn't matter if it's poisonous or not, the experts should be called to deal with the animal."
Johnson said that the game wardens would be called in to handle the snakes in most cases, but that police are equipped with some tools such as snake sticks and buckets to contain the animal if needed.
"The game wardens will come in and simply relocate the snake to somewhere it's less likely to encounter people," he said. "We don't want to kill them because they help keep the rat and mouse population down."
Smaller snakes also like to hunt smaller animals and insects, he added. These snakes are more likely to be found in housing areas because their prey will be around. The snakes are also looking for warmth as the temperatures dip down.
"If you have a water heater outside, they might be found near it, as well as dryers, because they generate so much heat and the animal is cold-blooded and can't regulate its own body temperature," he added. "Also, if you have a stack or pile of anything in or around your yard, that's a potential hiding place for a snake. They like to get into places where they can hide out."
Johnson said he's had a bit of experience dealing with the animals, dating back to his time in the Boy Scouts of America. That experience has come in handy in the past and recently.
"Just this past week we had a call about a snake at Yano Hall," he said. "When we arrived the Soldiers had placed a bucket over it and we discovered it was just a small, non-poisonous snake. But, you never know and that's why we should be called anytime one is seen."
Peggy Contreras, DPS community police supervisor, said children who happen upon a snake should also follow the same rules as adults: do not approach the snake, and call an adult.
"Snakes can be found just about anywhere on post," she said. "The walking trails around Beaver Lake to the housing areas and even in places of heavy traffic. Never think that snakes can't be found in busy places.