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Thread: Snakes in PA??

  1. #1
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    Snakes in PA??

    I'm new to the sport of mountain biking. I live in Northeast PA and encountered a snake on the trail the other day. My friend was riding in front of me and he didn't see it but I did and barely missed running it over. I'm pretty sure it was only a gartner snake. From what I understand, there are two types of poisionous snakes in our area; the rattlesnake and the copperhead. Has anyone had any experience with these snakes while riding? How do they react around people and bikes? Anyinformation or input is greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Life is Good
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    Well, I've never had any experiences with rattlers or copperheads, but I've ran into many a snake in my day lol.

    As with any snake, they aren't going to react kindly to a bike. If you are flying and one is on the trail, you should be able to get by before they react, but, by any means, if you can stop welll ahead of one, do it and wait for them to leave. Just don't stop on top of em

    Our non-poisonous snakes are no worry though. Just try not to hit em.

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    3 types

    A quick google search brings up three poisonous snakes indigenous to PA:

    Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
    Northern Copperhead
    Timber Rattlesnake

    This info comes from the PA fish and boat commission website.

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    Liberty Sports Magazine had a small blurb in their current issue about several running clubs seeing Timber Rattlers in Wiss and VF.

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    The reaction of the snake is going to depend greatly on temperature. If its a cool morning or day (around lower 70's or below) the snake is not going to react to anything very fast. The fact that its sitting out on the trail means its trying to warmup (or it has just eaten something and needs to digest). If its a really warm day they can react to things much faster, but if your hauling downhill then it probably won't have enough time to react to you no matter how hot it is that day. Just try to avoid running over them. They won't mess with you as long as you don't mess with them.
    If you get bitten just stay calm and get to a hospital as soon as possible. And try to ID the snake as best you can so you can tell the doctor. And under no circumstance cut the bite area, or let anyone else for that matter - EVEN THE DOCTOR, to "let the venom drain out".
    Good info. here from the SREL herp lab http://www.uga.edu/srel/snake-4.htm
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    i've had one encounter with a rattlesnake in Deleware WaterGap State Park, me and a few friends were running on one of the trails and the snake was coiled up on the side of some rocks...damn thing was huge, lol.

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    almost always harmless

    Yes- PA has 3 types of poisonous snakes. However 97% of the time any snake encountered is non-poisonous. I even go owt of my way looking for them and would stick w/ that %. Harmless, beneficial non- poisonous snakes. Mostly black rats and racers.
    As far as the 3 poisonous:
    Eastern massassagau is a small rare swamp rattler located in just a couple o counites of western PA. And last I knew was on the endangered or threatened species list.
    Copperheads are the most common and widely distributed PS in PA. But yet I have rarely encountered this specie owt and about as I have others. Common water snakes and milk snakes are often mistaken for c-heads and are couragously exterminated by mis-informed yahoos.
    Timber rattlers come in black and yellow phases are encountered in the mountainous sections of PA. They are a very sensitive habitat specific specie and should definetly be left alone when encountered. Their numbers have dwindled due to loss of habitat and "competition extirminations". When encountered they are actually the most passive unless tormented. What other snake gives you fair warning to keep your distance?

    When in doubt-leave them be. I have an eye for 'em and only once did I almost run one over... Rattler on the back side of a log... glad I din't clean it at a quicker speed! I've stepped beside rattler and copperheads w/ no response from them other than to sit tight or flight. Sure glad I bought that Can o' Karma in Mexico....
    Lo, as we walk through the valley of death.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by levels1069
    i've had one encounter with a rattlesnake in Deleware WaterGap State Park, me and a few friends were running on one of the trails and the snake was coiled up on the side of some rocks...damn thing was huge, lol.
    I have run into a rattle snake at French Creek and I run into a Huge Black Snake at Valley Forge, right at the Railroad tracks - the single track entrance that parallels the river.

    The guy I was riding with is one of the outdorrsy types who hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and was able to identify it as non poisonous but the SOB was big and mean looking.

    I have never come across any snakes at the Wiss while on the trails, although I have seen some on rocks sunning themselves in the summer

  9. #9
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    i live in wyoming county. i ride a lot in wyoming/sullivan counties. there are a large population of rattlesnakes here. i have to "remove" a couple of them each year in my yard. i live on the boundary of sgl 57 (it's the sticks) although i do a lot of riding in the noxen area (which is luzerne), i will not go up on top of my mountain (neither bartlett or dutch mtn) on a hazy/hot/humid day in the summer. the rattlesnakes are just too numerous. it is said that rattlesankes are a sign of the frontier. they don't like to be where people are. which is kind of why i moved here to begin with.
    i will say this, for as much as i'm in the woods lifting up rocks , removing trees, etc.....they are hard to come by. And for some reason, with three dogs, a mowed lawn, and other things going on on my property, i still find them in my yard (usually at night).
    caveat emptor:
    they will bath in the sun during the day and hunt for food at night. you'll probably see one away from its den as the evening progresses.

    as for the mt. top, bear creek, and other area's to the south and east, your chance of seeing one is slim to none. too many people.

    http://www.noxenpa.com/snakes.html

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    rattlers

    I have personally seen rattlesnakes around Francis E. Walter Dam area and near the Mountain Park area above 7 Tubbs area so I think it is a safe bet that anywhere there are rocks ( as is most of northern PA) there is a chance of snakes. However most are not sitting on the trails. So just use basic sense and not harass any you come across and you'll be fine.

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    Copperheads are really common in PA. I always come across them while fishing, they are almost always close to water. Copperheads are pretty small and not very aggressive so I wouldnt worry too much about them, just dont try picking them up. Just be aware that snakes can be almost anywhere, if you dont bother them they wont bother you.

    http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/Fish_Boat/copprhe.htm
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    .. nobody made a "Snakes on a Plane" reference? That was the first thing that shot through my head.

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    I would bet again w/ 97% certainty a snake found "close to water" is a northern water snake- not a copperhead. Read the link you posted to see a copperhead's normal habitat is not around water. The 2 snake's similar brown rusty appearance is often confused. They can be as aggressive as a copperhead but are harmless. Often, when harassed water snakes flatten themselves owt and give a "diamond" or triangular head shape appearance. Confusing people further and often leading to a senseless slaughter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bwillsie
    I have personally seen rattlesnakes around Francis E. Walter Dam area and near the Mountain Park area above 7 Tubbs area so I think it is a safe bet that anywhere there are rocks ( as is most of northern PA) there is a chance of snakes. However most are not sitting on the trails. So just use basic sense and not harass any you come across and you'll be fine.
    A little south of there, but I've seen plenty of rattlesnakes in Jim Thorpe and nearby areas, they seem to like sunning themselves on rocky sections and on the jeep roads. They're usually pretty tolerant. I sat down next to one on a cliff once without realizing it, ate lunch and spotted it only after getting up to leave, and a friend once fell & landed face-to-face with a rattler without provoking it. The only time I've ever heard one rattle was when I came across some drunk degenerates poking it with a stick.

    Tolerance disclaimer: your mileage may vary...

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    Quote Originally Posted by roadkill
    I would bet again w/ 97% certainty a snake found "close to water" is a northern water snake- not a copperhead. Read the link you posted to see a copperhead's normal habitat is not around water. The 2 snake's similar brown rusty appearance is often confused. They can be as aggressive as a copperhead but are harmless. Often, when harassed water snakes flatten themselves owt and give a "diamond" or triangular head shape appearance. Confusing people further and often leading to a senseless slaughter.

    water snakes can look similar to copperheads, i used to catch brown water snakes all the time when i was younger, but copperheads have a pretty disctinct look to them. most of the copperheads that i have seen look exactly like the one pictured.
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    Markings can come in all different shades....It all comes down to the eyes! Round pupil- non poisonous, Cat-like- poisonous.

  17. #17
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    "Brown" water snakes are queen snakes- water snakes with no top markings just brown

  18. #18
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    There are no snakes in Pa!

    Just giant Mt Bike eating Aga-lators. Not related to an Alligator. Aga-lators grow Corn on the weekends!
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  19. #19
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    i only ran into a snake once while i was riding. it was on one of the rockier trails in the wiss. it was basking on a big rock and i almost ran it over. thankfully i swa it soon enough to brake hard and pull my self back. me and my buddy guessed it at about 2 ft. pretty scary looking, poisonous or not. the best part was, as we had hiked off the trail around it and kept riding, we rode past a trail runner the other way and told her to look out. her responce we a very tough, "should i be scared".

  20. #20
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    I have seen lots of snakes, rattlers and others. I am not apt to tell anyone where as I know so many people still have the "we must kill all found snakes" motivation.

    I seee allot when riding on trails I also run on and never see any when riding. I assume the sankes hear/feel my steps and get away but are surprised by the approach or tires.

    Last year in the Wilderness 101 lotsd of riders got to see this one huge light green rattle swallowing a rat at about mile 80.

  21. #21
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    I was reading this thread yesterday and thinking to mysef that I hadn't seen a snake in the woods around me in years (Montage Mountain area). Well, low and behold, I come cruising around a tight turn this morning and a fairly large black snake is right there causing me to almost got over the handle bars. It took off very fast into the brush, I'm assuming it was a Black Racer.

  22. #22
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    The Montage Mountain area in Northeast PA had a large population of rattlesnakes a while back. They may not be as prominent now that they built all those houses, movie theater, office buildings, etc, but I'm sure they are still there, especially in the remote areas.

    Two weeks ago I saw 2 snakes within about 100 yards of each other near Mosic Lake (a little Northeast of Scranton) but both were non-poisonous.

    The Rothrock area near State College also has rattlesnakes. I've seen a couple, one really large one that scared the crap out of me. I was walking my bike through an overgrown trail and came pretty close to it. There are also lots of non-poisonous snakes in this area.

    If you really want to see alot of snakes, head out to Southern California. I was riding in the mountains outside of San Diego a few years ago and must of seen a snake for every mile I rode. I don't like snakes and that really freaked me out.

    Mike

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    Yeah, Montage used to have alot of rattlesnakes, but I haven't seen one up there in ages. There's just been so much development on the mountain. I'm sure they're still around though.

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    i was riding at french creek last sunday and was leaving on the south park road and a black snake slithered out. That SOB was longer then the one road lane!!it had to be 5'+

    Fivetenfrank - You have seen rattlers in French Creek? I lived here my whole life and never saw rattler sin our area. Doesnt suprise me though.

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    I know I probably do less rock flipping now than when I was a kid, but snakes as a whole are on the decline. I often look at them as an indicator species of the diversity and health of an area's habitat. They are very sensitive to their surroundings. Rattlesnakes are very niche specific. Disturbances of many kinds can have an impact on their populations. This is even before "Cletus and Clyde" come along w/ their Budweiser sticks.
    I see less water snakes owt fishing, less black rats at the old farm foundation and less rattlers on the ridges. I even see less roadkill snakes as they get flattened from trying to warm on the pavement (Unfortunately this is often the best way to see what species exist in a given area!). I've been building loose rock walls around my property borders to promote habitat not just for snakes but all critters. Every lil bit helps!

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