Help Wanted: Snake Hunters at Lake Fairfax

by Karen Goff April 12, 2016 at 1:30 pm 15 Comments

North American Water Snake/Courtesy Fairfax County Park AuthorityUpdate: The Park Authority says the event has been cancelled.

Fairfax County needs your help to hunt and document snakes.

The county is conducting a survey of the “aggressive but misunderstood” water snakes that inhabit Reston’s Lake Fairfax Park.

From the Fairfax County Park Authority:

Water snakes get their name because they enjoy the water, but these non-venous reptiles have a bad rap because they are often confused with the dangerous water moccasin that has a similar look. Search with a naturalist for non-venomous water snakes and help to document their size, gender and location.

Here is what you need to know:

The count is Thursday, April 14 from 7 to 8 p.m.

Ages 8 through adults are invited to participate.

The cost is $6. Sign up online or call 703-471-5414.

Photo of North American water snake courtesy Fairfax County Park Authority.

  • Mike M

    There is always someone to tell me I am wrong, but I am pretty confident that Cottonmouths (Water Moccasins) do not live in NoVa. You have to go to Tidewater to see them. Sometimes they find one within a few miles of Richmond and on the Peninsula. Around here the real venomous snake would be the Copperhead and they are common in Reston.

    • Arielle in NoVA

      I was camping once at Lake Fairfax with some Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and in the morning some of them had a small snake in a tarp (they had the corners up; the snake was sitting down in the middle). Several of the adults were pretty sure it was a cottonmouth, but I’m far from an expert. If I could remember the date, I could look through my pictures to see if I got one of the snake.

    • BJK

      You are correct. The Hopewell area is the farthest north that Cottonmouths are found in Virginia. There have been MANY claims otherwise, but not a single confirmed finding to the contrary. As a VA Herp Society member, and operator of VA Reptile Rescue, Inc, I’m always interested if I hear of new information.

      • Mike M

        Thanks! I have had that argument with a few people who swear they have seen them. The authoritative sources are consistent. Interesting to know it’s never been confirmed.

  • Ming the Merciless

    Well I’m just a snake who will bite your ass good,
    Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood!

  • Dizzy Diz

    Wait, I have to pay to help Fairfax County track down snakes. Doesn’t seem like a good gig!

  • S. Irwin

    An elusive animal that comes in many shapes and sizes. The rare hooded trouser snake is more aware of its environment, but this snake likes to collect cheesy matter and keep it in its hood. Each snake carries a venom sack that produces a white venom when it reaches maturity. The snake’s one eye also functions as its mouth and waste removal system. The snake does not like cold weather and will shrink in cold conditions. It thrives in warm conditions, such as the many burrows it spits into in order to mark its territory. When touched, the snake will swell up to twice its original size in order to frighten off predators.

    • Meh

      I heard the dark ones are the biggest and the yellow are the smallest. Can you confirm?


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