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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. – Experts say more snakes, including venomous copperheads, are out this time of year preparing for hibernation.

John Merritt, a Guilford County man, and his neighbors have encountered a few copperheads in their Adams Farm neighborhood recently.

“I’ve never really seen one that big so as you can imagine it was pretty jaw-dropping,” Merritt said.

Last week during a sunny fall afternoon in his backyard, Merritt almost stepped on a two-and-a-half-foot copperhead snake.

Of course, it startled him, but he says he’s just glad his 1-year-old son and his small dog weren’t outside when it happened.

“You know the first thing that comes to mind is if you’re playing in your backyard or if you let the dog out for whatever reason, that it comes in contact with a copperhead and gets bit and although it’s not a deadly snake it certainly could cause bodily harm,” Merritt said.

Experts at the Greensboro Science Center say late Summer and early Fall is the time of year snakes including copperheads are seen more frequently in piles of leaf litter or hiding in and around items.

“They’re going to be seeing them in their yards because they are trying to get some warmth, some sunshine, and possibly a couple of meals before they go into hibernation in the fall,” said Lauren Irk, a Greensboro Science Center zookeeper.

These snakes are also experts at camouflage, making it easy to miss them. If you do happen to come across one, experts suggest you don’t kill the snake, just gently remove it from the area.

“Typically, just try to leave it alone if you can. If you’re concerned about pets or young children you can get a shovel and scoop it up and relocate it ideally because they are also helpful even though they are venomous because they will be eating small rodents, like mice and other voles, and other things that are going to be in your yard,” Irk said.

Back over in the Adams Farm neighborhood, Merrit says other homeowners have witnessed copperheads slithering on walking trails and in their yards. He shared his experience on the Nextdoor App to make everywhere aware.

“There was a lot of engagement and just people sharing their experiences whether it be on a run, we have walking trails through the neighborhood and a lot of water in Adams Farm,” Merritt said.

Copperheads are venomous, but they are rarely deadly to humans. People are strongly encouraged to de-clutter their yards, to make it easier to see the snakes and give them fewer places to hide.