Q: I saw a two and one-half foot long snake going across my yard. Thank goodness the dogs didn’t see it! It was black and had yellow rings around its body. Its head had little “squares” of yellow almost like the dots that make up pixels on a printed page. I just shooed him toward the fence and away he went. I don’t kill snakes or any other animals but have been known to squash a Japanese beetle. I’ve been unable to identify my snake on the Internet. Any ideas?
A: I’m glad to hear you didn’t harm your visitor since it was almost certainly harmless. The rainy spring and summer have made good conditions for mice, toads and small insects to thrive. They are the preferred food for snakes so I expect many folks will be startled by one of these legless creatures this summer.
Remember too that all non-venomous snakes in Georgia are protected by law. Killing them is illegal, no matter how much you dislike them.
The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory has an excellent website devoted to identifying snakes, frogs and other amphibians.
Try also eNature
In addition, this publication from Missouri has lots of information about snakes and their control.
The Georgia Wildlife Federation sells an excellent snake identification booklet “Snakes of Georgia and South Carolina” for a small fee. You can call them at 770-787-7887.