Under Georgian law, you could be charged with a wrongdoing for killing a non-venomous snake or you could be jailed with a fine of $ 1,000
MACON, Ga. – It’s that time of year again when you might encounter a slippery snake in your yard or even in your house. But what do you do when you see one a little too close to be comfortable?
Is It Legal to Kill Snakes in Georgia?
Jenny Prater and her family had a big surprise when they went into their dining room.
“There’s a huge snake that has crawled around one of the birdhouses by our window,” says Koutsunis Prater.
“I came running in to see why he was yelling ‘Oh my goodness’ and it’s at least four, five feet long,” added Jenny.
Koutsunis immediately recognized it as a non-venomous rat snake.
“We just knocked on the glass and looked at it and hung around for a while,” says Jenny.
“He was very friendly. He looked at the kids and it was really cool,” he added.
But for those of you who think “the only good snake is a dead snake,” is it legal to kill snakes in Georgia?
According to Daniel Sollenberger from the Department of Natural Resources, it depends.
“We have a law in Georgia that protects all non-game wildlife, including non-venomous snakes.”
Under Georgian law, you could be charged with a crime of killing a non-venomous snake or it could land you in jail and cost you a tidy $ 1,000 penny.
“The only reason it doesn’t include poisonous snakes is because there’s a separate law that makes some exceptions,” says Sollenberger.
He says while there is a penalty for killing non-venomous snakes, DNR police officers say law enforcement is difficult and depends on the judicial system and judge involved.
Georgia law also states that keeping a non-venomous snake as a pet is illegal unless you have permission.
There are six venomous snakes in Georgia: Copperheads, Cottonmouths, Timber Rattlesnakes, Eastern Diamondback Rattesnakes, Pigmy Rattlesnakes, and Eastern Coral Snakes.
Sollenberger says it’s highly unlikely you’re in an area in the state where six are found. Most of the time the snake you see isn’t venomous, but for your own safety, learn what these six look like.
“The average person probably knows dozens, or maybe even, scores or hundreds of logos – company logos and things – right away by sight. If you learn a handful of snakes, you can do it.”
So we can check if it is illegal to kill non-venomous snakes in Georgia, but you can legally kill the venomous snakes.
However, Sollenberger says it’s best to leave them all alone unless they pose an imminent threat.
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As for the Prater family, they say they are dealing with a rat problem on their property and hope the rat snake stays there.