Geocaching and Snake Safety


Our favorite part of geocaching is that it gets you outdoors and brings you to places you wouldn’t normally find. Unfortunately the outdoors, while amazing and beautiful, can also carry safety risks. Several of our readers have commented on tics, temperature extremes and even snakes! Snakes can be lethal so you must be careful to avoid them. A bit of a disclaimer here, Kurt and I both grew up in Maine and our knowledge of snakes came much later in life. So if you have any tips or suggestions for others, PLEASE make a comment below to help everyone out!

The first thing about snakes is that you should do some research if you are geocaching in an area that you are unfamiliar with. For example if you’re from the northeast and are traveling and think you might do some geocaching while visiting family in Louisiana, you should take some time to talk to locals about what types of snakes are in the area. You may also want to review some literature about what snakes live there so you can get a visual reference on what you might encounter. Knowledge and awareness are your number one tools to avoid snakebite.

Not all snakes have rattles or will announce their presence and they tend to be under things or hiding. Beyond knowing WHAT snakes are in the area you should also know where they live. Snakes, like any reptile are cold blooded, which means they can’t regulate their body temperature. This means that they either need to layout in the sun to warm up or to hide in the shade or water to cool down. Know where the snakes live and you can put yourself on alert when entering those areas.

Here are our snake safety tips to remember:

  • Wear the correct clothing! Long sleeves and pants with thick boots that cover the ankle will protect you in the event of a bite.
  • Snakes can strike at a distance of roughly half their length. Keep your distance if you do encounter one, and back away slowly.
  • Never risk it! If you see a snake consider it to be venomous and treat it as such. Most snake bites come not from someone being surprised, but from people that try to move or even play with snakes.
  • Be careful where you step! A snake can look like a stick or might be lying in the sun trying to stay warm. You need to stay alert and watch every step you take when in snake country to avoid surprising a snake.
  • Be careful where you put your hands! A long time friend of mine told me that most snakebites on golf courses come from players, who like myself, spend more time in the rough than on the fairway. They see their ball and reach down to grab it not realizing that right next the ball was a snake. The same holds true for us as geocachers. Don’t let the triumph of finally finding that hidden cache override your common sense or alertness to dangers.
  • If you are walking your dog while geocaching in an area where there might be snakes, keep them on a leash to avoid a chance encounter.


Snake Safety Tools and Resources


All this stated we must remember to be good stewards of the environment when geocaching. This means having an appreciation for all aspects of nature, which includes snakes. Snakes play a critical role in local ecosystems by keeping rodent populations in check. The outdoors is plenty big enough for snakes and humans!

Do you have a snake safety tip that we didn’t share? Please leave a comment below so we can build this as a resource for others!

  1. David

    Most poisonous snakes in the US have a triangle shaped head. To the best of my knowledge the coral snake is the exception, they are often mistaken for a king snake with similar color variations. “Red on yellow kill a fellow, red on black friend of Jack.”

    You should always treat a snake with respect. If you see a snake, remain calm and slowly back away. They key word is calm.

  2. Sonny Davis
    Sonny Davis06-03-2012

    Great article. We recently had an encounter with a Copperhead in the North Georgia Mountains. While hiking and looking, I nearly stepped on his head. Thankfully for me, the snake seemed aware of my unwillingness to bring him harm and let me be. When I noticed him, I was able to twist a bit so that my foot fell about two foot away to his side. I then instructed my family to back up slowly and we passed by and gave him plenty of room. He never moved during our chance encounter.

    I learned a valuable lesson about walking down a trail and not paying attention to the steps in front of me. Too often we get caught up in the surrounding scenery that we don’t spend enough time surveying the path ahead of us.

  3. Robyn Broyles
    Robyn Broyles07-02-2012

    Most of the snakes a geocacher might encounter are not venomous… but enough of them are that prudence is the best course of action. If you ARE bitten, if possible have someone capture the snake (and confine it securely) so emergency personnel know whether it is venomous and, if so, which antivenom to give you. If that’s not possible, try to at least get a description of the snake—its size, colors, pattern, etc. Remember all rattlesnakes are venomous, but not all venomous snakes are rattlesnakes. Great tip!

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