When are small goldfish born and is their bite stronger?

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Those who have lived in North Carolina for a while know that you have to be extra careful with snakes during the warmer months.

We often return to the subject of snakes—and copperheads in particular—not to scare people, but to share information from the experts on the best ways to coexist and stay safe. Ideally, most adopt a live-and-let-live policy for all involved.

Also, we are mindful that many newcomers arrive in North Carolina every day, and all of this may be new and helpful information for them.

So we return to two questions about baby copperhead snakes that were first answered in the summer of 2019:

1. When are gingers born?

and 2. Are children’s warts more dangerous than adult warts?

We share some other helpful facts about honeysuckle, including where exactly in your yard (or other outdoor space) you’re most likely to find them, and what to do if you see one.

Our experts are Jeff Bean, Herpetology Collection Manager at the NC Museum of Natural History in Raleigh; and Certified Wildlife Rehoming Expert Talena Chavis, owner of NC Snake Catcher (facebook.com/ncsnakecatcher) in Kerry.

When are gingers born?

Bean confirmed that most copperheads spawn in late August or early September, but some may spawn as early as mid-August or late October.

“Weather, geography, region and other factors can affect the exact time of birth,” Bean said. “But usually the last few days of August and the first few days of September are the peak copperhead.”

Baby gingers are born alive. They do not hatch from eggs.

In accordance with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commissionfemale copperheads can have one litter per year, and litters can range from 2 to 18 snakes that are 8 to 10 inches long at birth.

What does a baby or young goldfinch look like?

Newborn gingers look just like their parents, except they have a bright yellow or green tail with a tip that darkens rather quickly.

What does an adult copperhead look like?

Copperheads are brownish gray in color with an hourglass pattern on the back that resembles a Hershey’s kiss.

However, Chavis told us that relying on that can be difficult simple on the label, especially if you haven’t seen many copperheads in person or only glimpsed them.

“There can be a lot of variation in color and pattern with speckles and spots between kisses,” Chavis said.

If you see a snake in your yard and aren’t sure if it’s a rattlesnake (or another venomous snake), Chavis recommends taking a photo (from a safe distance) and having an expert confirm the identity.

In addition to professional relocation services and yard inspections and evaluations, Chavis can identify snakes from photos sent to 919-867-0173.

Chavis says all the snakes she catches are humanely relocated to places where she has permission to release them.

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A copperhead snake in the grass at Hayden Cavender’s shop in the Little River community in July 2016. Janet Blackmon Morgan jblackmon@thesunnews.com

Is the bite of a baby ginger more dangerous?

You often hear that the bite of a baby ginger is more dangerous than the bite of an adult because the baby cannot control the amount of venom used.

When we asked Bean about it, he said, “It’s a bit complicated.”

Bean confirmed that the young coppers May less likely to control or contain the amount of venom they inject, but they also don’t have as much venom as a mature snake.

Here are some points to consider from a previously published N&O report on baby honeybee bites.

Defensive bites versus victim-seeking bites. The honeybee bites for two reasons: to kill and eat prey or to defend itself.

Bean explained that when striking its prey to kill and eat, a baby goldfinch injects as much venom as is necessary to achieve that goal. When a rattlesnake bites a person, it is a defensive bite, and in such cases the snake is unlikely to use as much venom (and sometimes not at all).

“It’s not profitable for snakes to waste venom — it’s metabolically expensive to make it, so they don’t want to bite anything other than prey,” Bean said.

Bean points out that whenever a snake bites, it’s an instinctive reaction, and that the snake doesn’t “think.” But since the main reason a snake bites is to kill and eat prey, snakes bite people only in self-defense, Bean said.

“They’re unlikely to accept something 100 times their size as prey,” Bean said.

More concentrated poison? Bean told us that a newborn’s venom “may or may not be a little more concentrated than an adult’s,” but since a larger rattlesnake contains much more injectable venom, a larger snake likely more than makes up for any differences in chemical composition.

Plus, Bean said, a larger or more mature snake has longer fangs that can penetrate a sock or thick skin, so it has a greater “delivery capability” than a young snake.

A mature goldfish can also “hit farther and with more power and accuracy,” Bean said.

Baby ginger bites are not that common. Bean said most human bites by copperheads are on adults.

“I haven’t heard much about people being bitten by newborns,” Bean said. “Personally, if I had to choose between being bitten by a newborn goldfish or an adult, I would choose the newborn because of the potentially much less venom.”

Bites are rarely fatal. According to the Carolinas Toxicology Center, rattlesnake bites can be “severe,” but generally not as severe as bites from other North Carolina venomous snakes. About half of all honeybee bites cause only mild swelling and pain, according to the center.

If you have been bitten by a snake, call the Carolina Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

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A baby goldfish on the tip of a snake hook captured in Durham, North Carolina. Talena Chavis / NC Snake Catcher

Honeybee habitats and how to avoid them

The ultimate goal is to avoid the summer without a honeybee encounter – it’s better for you and the snake.

So be careful when working or playing outdoors, especially in areas where snakes are more likely to hang out.

Where exactly do snakes hang out the most? There are many potential habitats for snakes in wooded areas, on hiking trails, and even in our backyards. Understand the habits of snakes and recognize that they can be found wherever there is potential habitat.

What are snake habitats? Copperheads like pine straw, dried leaves or brush, or a dense, low-growing ground cover like English ivy. They also love wood piles and dry walls, which are curb walls that are essentially unmortared pieces of slate – these crevices make great homes for copperhead foraging.

From Bean: “Common sense, like not putting body parts in places you can’t see, not walking barefoot at night, not walking barefoot through thick vegetation, using a flashlight at night, not putting your hands under piles of wood, watching what you do at all times, watch where you put your hands and feet will prevent most bites.’

Where are the prey snakes? Goldfish like to eat rodents, shrews, lizards, snakes, frogs and salamanders, and even insects such as large caterpillars and cicada nymphs. So know that wherever you can see these creatures, you can also see a snake.

Be more careful at night. Copperheads are active day and night, but in hot weather they are mainly nocturnal. says NC Wildlife, so be extra careful at dusk or in the dark. Try to let your dogs out before dark, and if you have to run out at night to take out the trash, ditch the flip flops and wear shoes that cover your feet.

Chavis, who said she averages about half a dozen snake calls a week, advises people to check their yard before dogs or children go outside.

“The most important thing I tell people about copperheads is they are not shy snakes,” Chavis said. “They are good at disguising themselves, but they are not ashamed. … They hunt at night, so try to let the dogs out before dark if you can, and wear boots. We get bitten at night because we put on little flip flops, grab the trash and go out, and then we get tagged.”

Leave them alone. While many bites occur when someone inadvertently puts a hand or foot on a copperhead, NC Wildlife notes that a large percentage of bites occur when a person tries to kill or remove a copperhead.

It is best to leave the snake alone if you encounter a copperhead.

“Admire them from a safe distance and leave them alone,” said Bean, who does not advocate killing the snakes.

“Many bites and other injuries occurred when people tried to kill the snakes,” he said. “Nobody was ever bitten by a snake if they left it alone.”

If you are nervous about leaving a snake alone, you can always call a professional wildlife relocation expert to remove the snake from your yard.

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Brooke Kane is a North Carolina native who has worked for The News & Observer for more than 25 years. She is a feature journalism editor and writes about television and local media on The N&O’s Happiness is a Warm TV blog.



When are small goldfish born and is their bite stronger?

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