With the nice weather in Rockville this week, you may be tempted to visit one of the city’s 65 parks. If you do, you might come across some of our ssslithery sssnake residents. Some of them — like Maryland’s copperheads and timber rattlesnakes — are venomous.

But don’t panic.

Snakes, even the venomous kind, are a vital part of the ecosystem. According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, “Because of their importance, all snake species are protected in Maryland under the Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act.” That means it’s illegal to kill them.

Snakes aren’t typically aggressive and will shy away from humans, given the chance.

DNR has many good tips for co-exisssting with our snake palsss — including:

  • Leave snakes alone. Many bites occur when people attempt to capture or kill venomous snakes. (And if you are bitten, immediately contact the Maryland Poison Center at 800-222-1222.)
  • Watch where you put your hands and feet.
  • Avoid rock piles and stacks of old boards or wood in forested areas as snakes use these areas frequently, especially sunny areas with canopy gaps.
  • Be careful working around brush piles or other debris. Use a rake or long handled tool to move brush, debris, or other material before picking it up.
  • Never handle venomous snakes, alive or dead.

For more tips, and how to identify the state’s two species of significantly venomous snakes, visit dnr.maryland.gov.