Sssssensational! No poisonous snakes in Maine – mostly | DownEast.com

I was a wildland firefighter for three summers while attending college and we were always told to watch out for rattlesnakes.

And paying for green fees in California, Nevada and other western states might come with a warning to avoid certain areas on the golf course infested with snakes. (“Sooo, is that a 7-iron, then?” – a reply to a warning about snakes at a golf course in Carson City, Nevada.)

The answer to the DownEast.com trivia question should calm any concerns for parents in Maine about letting their children play in the outdoors.

Is it true that Maine has no venomous snakes?

Answer:

Yes. Though a small number of timber rattlesnakes, considered transient, have been spotted in southernmost Maine, the state is considered the only one of the Lower 48 to have no native venomous snakes.

OK, here’s a family-lore story. The story goes that my father, sister and very probably my mother and I were outside. My father and mother very likely were doing yard work; my sister and I were too young.

At one point my sister wandered to the edge of the property and brought back with her a run-of-the-mill garter snake and tried to show it to my father. Apparently, my father was particularly frightened of snakes – and the little garter snake was no exception. He apparently backed away from my sister, yelling at her to drop the snake.

No one was harmed, not even the snake.

There may be a problem with the trivia question answer, however, and it might require a mild clarification. I just noticed in a Wikipedia entry on garter snakes that

“Garters were long thought to be nonvenomous, but recent discoveries have revealed that they do in fact produce a mild neurotoxic venom. Garter snakes are nevertheless harmless to humans due to the very low amounts of venom they produce, which is comparatively mild, and the fact that they lack an effective means of delivering it.”

So there you have the skinny of snakes.

2 responses to “Sssssensational! No poisonous snakes in Maine – mostly | DownEast.com

  1. This is not true there are a population however small of timber rattlesnakes in the state of Maine by this article giving false information to the public and possibility of putting them at risk.

    • Everything I find online (beyond this story) indicates that the timber rattlesnake is now extinct in Maine. It has not been seen since 1901, by one account. Do you have other information?

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