To learn more about Georgia’s snakes, especially those in metro Atlanta, I attended a recent program by naturalist Jerry Hightower of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Some of his tidbits:
● Of Georgia’s six venomous snake species, the copperhead is by far the most common in the metro area. Timber rattlers, pygmy rattlers and cottonmouths (water moccasins) may have been pushed out by development. The coral snake and the eastern diamondback mostly inhabit South Georgia.
● The most common snake seen in the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area is the midland water snake. Though it’s non-venomous, it can be very aggressive. “I’ve been bitten more than 40 times by one,” Hightower said.
● Some harmless snakes may imitate their venomous counterparts. The hog-nosed snake, for instance, inflates its head and neck, coils, hisses and strikes when disturbed, but it doesn’t bite.
Remember: Snakes are beneficial. They eat mice, rats and other pests.
In the sky: The Perseid meteor shower will be visible all next week, reaching a peak of 50 meteors per hour Wednesday night, says David Dundee, astronomer with Tellus Northwest Georgia Science Museum. Look to the southeast from 2 a.m. until dawn.
The moon will be new on Monday. By Tuesday it will be a thin crescent low in the west just after dark. Mercury is low in the west and sets just after dark. Venus is in the west just after sunset and sets about two hours later. It will appear near the moon Wednesday. Mars sets in the west two hours after sunset and will appear near the moon Friday night. Jupiter rises out of the east about three hours after sunset. Saturn, low in the west at sunset, sets about two hours later. It will appear near the moon Thursday.