Zoo curator disputes Facebook post about snake in Frayser apartment

FRAYSER, TN (WMC) - A Frayser resident recently posted a picture of a snake in his apartment. He claimed it was a venomous copperhead, but that turns out to be false.

Chris Baker, assistant curator at the Memphis Zoo, was instantly able to see the snake wasn't a copperhead. Instead, it was a gray rat snake.

"Most people out there see a snake, they are already afraid and they assume it's a copperhead," Baker said. "This is a gray rat snake--unmistakably different from the copperhead. These have rectangular blotches on the back that do not connect to the pattern on the side."

When it comes to identifying snakes, experts said it comes down to the pattern on their bodies. The venomous copperhead has an hourglass pattern on its body.

Baker was also skeptical that the picture was taken recently. He said snakes aren't usually active with it being this cold.

"Snakes are typically inactive this time of the year," Baker said. "They are brumating, or hibernating because of the cold temperatures. It is a little uncommon to have one active in these low temperatures, although they do sometimes show activities."

The cold-blooded creatures typically reappear in April around the Mid-South once it's warmed up, sometimes finding their way into our homes in search of food or shelter.

If that happens, Baker suggests sweeping the snake up into a bucket and returning it back outside.

There are about 30 different snakes that live in the Mid-South area. Only three of them–the copperhead, cottonmouth, and timber rattlesnake–are venomous.

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