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I see a snake, is it poisonous?

There are no snakes that are poisonous, what most people mean to ask is whether they are venomous. There are several species of snakes in the District and very few are venomous. The most common snake we deal with are rat snakes. Young rat snakes can appear to be venomous Copperhead snakes, which is a defense for their young. They become a more solid black color as they get older. Rat snakes are non-venomous and will leave you alone if you leave them alone.

In the District we do have Copperhead snakes which are venomous. Copperhead snakes are rarely fatal and mostly occur when the snake is stepped on or grabbed. When walking areas with lots of leaf cover, sticks or undergrowth, please watch where you step to avoid an unwanted encounter with the snake. If you see a copperhead snake, leave it alone. 

Snakes are a welcomed part of the city’s ecosystem as they take care of the rodent population. They pose little threat and are often only passing through.   

If you would like to limit the number of snakes in an area, their food source must be eliminated. Snakes are attracted to rats and mice. Secure all food and trash in order to limit the number of rodents in the area.

Call us if you find a sick or injured snake or a venomous snake that may endanger the public. 


If a wild animal is in need, danger or you believe it is rabid, immediately call us at 202-723-5730.

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