July 31, 2013
Like many of her neighbors, Kristie Poohey enjoys taking her dogs out for a stroll along the community’s open space bike paths.
But this summer she keeps a vigilant eye out during her walks because several snakes have slithered across her path.
“I have been seeing quite a few snakes in Eagle Ranch, and I haven’t seen them ever before,” said Poohey. “They are black and gray, with black leopard spots. I have seen them from 1 foot long to 3 feet long.”
Poohey said she has spotted snakes in various locales around town.
“They really seem to get active when you have sprinklers on or when it rains,” she said.
After she had spotted a couple of snakes, Poohey started looking at photos to see if she could identify the specific type of snake she was encountering. She noted they look like pictures of rat snakes.
However, Craig Westcoatt of Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the local reptiles are more likely bull snakes or garter snakes. In particular, Westcoatt said that bull snakes, which are also called gopher snakes, could be multi-colored.
Westcoatt also stressed that there are no poisonous snakes native to Eagle County.
“These bull snakes consume other small mammals, in particular the smaller ground squirrels, voles and mice that we have in abundance,” said Westcoatt.
He said that he had not received other reports about a local snake infestation this summer, but noted that like other wildlife species, the native snake population does have higher years and lower years.
For residents who would rather put up with snake prey than the snakes themselves, Westcoatt said there is really no practical way to discourage snakes from visiting your property. However, in general, he noted that snakes dislike dogs, cats and people so the family pet may be the best deterrent for slithering visitors.