Copperheads emerging with warm weather

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- With warmer weather comes the increased chance you will run across a dangerous snake in your yard.

Experts say they are beginning to get calls about Copperhead bites and infestations.

Scott McNeely with McNeely Pest Control says while most snakes can be beneficial in helping to control the rodent population, he warns Copperheads can be dangerous and should be avoided.

McNeely says snakes look for two things -- shelter and food.

"If you got a situation where mice can get in, then you got a place where snakes can follow," McNeely said.

McNeely says small cracks in your foundation, around crawl spaces or in vents should be sealed.  He also says low-lying brush should be removed, wood piles should be kept off the ground and high grass should be cut.

"If there is a lot of activity -- be it pets or humans -- it's going to be less likely they stay around regularly," McNeely said.

Even if you don't encounter any snakes, your pets may.  Dr. Eric Taylor with Reynolda Veterinary Hospital says he sees between 3 and 5 pets with snake bites every spring.

"Typically a dog gets bitten on the muzzle.  They stick their nose in wood piles or they see a snake and want to smell it," Taylor said.  "Cats get bitten on paws. Overall it causes mostly soft-tissue damage, so the first five days it can go from local swelling to losing sections of skin and flesh."

Experts say it's best to leave Copperheads alone if you do see one.  Even dead snakes can strike due to their reflexes.

If your pet gets bitten, take them to a vet immediately to minimize the damage.