In the wild, snakes spend a great deal of time coiled under rocks or in holes. There, they are protected from predators and more easily maintain a stable body temperature. And what looks eerily similar to a hole for snakes like copperheads? Shoes.
While rolling his trash can to the street for pickup like he did every Thursday evening, one Georgia man received an unexpected shock when not one but two copperheads were hiding underneath. To make matters worse, the pair of snakes then slithered into his garage and directly into his shoes for safety.
Luckily, his neighbor, Josh Dameron, was already well-known in the neighborhood for his talent for reptile wrangling and available to help. When he agreed, however, he was expecting a harmless garter snake, maybe a rat snake, not two venomous copperheads.
“I’ve seen 100-plus snakes in my neighborhood over the last five years. Only one was a copperhead, and it was dead on the road far from homes at the entrance of the neighborhood,” Dameron told Newsweek.
Entering the garage, the amateur snake catcher found both snakes “chilling out” near the door to the house. Despite their fearsome reputation, neither of the copperheads attempted to attack him or even acknowledged he was there.
“The snakes were surprisingly nonaggressive but fairly large,” Dameron recalled. “Both over 2 feet.”
Always call a professional when dealing with venomous snakes like copperheads
Though this is nothing if not a heartwarming story of neighborly friendship, it’s important to note that it’s best to contact a professional when dealing with snakes, especially venomous species like copperheads.
Even if you think you’re dealing with a nonvenomous species, it’s all too easy to misidentify a snake if you’re not a professional. The copperhead, for example, looks nearly identical to the nonvenomous midland water snake at first glance.
Now, that’s not to say that all venomous snakes are waiting for the first available opportunity to bite a human. On the contrary, as long as snakes are given plenty of space, they aren’t dangers to people at all, regardless of the species.
When bites do occur, they’re almost exclusively the result of accidental trampling or intentional harassment. An estimated 2,920 people are bitten by copperheads annually in the United States. The fatality rate, however, is extremely low at around 0.01 percent.
Check your shoes for snakes, especially in spring and summer
The best way to avoid a snake bite is to keep your hands to yourself and watch where you step. That includes stepping into your shoes, especially if they’re kept in a garage or outdoor space.
Again, for copperheads and other snakes, a shoe is the ideal hiding place. It’s safe, dark, and warm – the exact criteria a snake looks for in a location to lurk.
All it takes is a quick peek into each shoe. Unlike bugs and small spiders, a snake is difficult to miss. Chances are, you’ll find nothing at all. On the off-chance you do find a snake hiding in a shoe, however, call a professional rather than attempting to handle it yourself.
The best way to avoid such an encounter in the first place? Keep your shoes inside! If you must store them in the garage, put them on a shelf or other location high off the ground. Snakes can climb, but there’s only so much effort they’re willing to put into finding a hiding place.