State laws prohibit killing snakes in Georgia, South Carolina

State laws prohibit killing snakes in Georgia, South Carolina
A juvenile rat snake. (Source: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries)

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - There are more than forty species of snakes in Georgia and South Carolina. Chances are the one you stumble across in your yard is not one of the six venomous ones in our region.

According to Georgia law, it is illegal to possess or kill any non-venomous snake. The charge is a misdemeanor, but it can be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and one year in jail. (O.C.G.A. 27-1-28)

In South Carolina, it is illegal to kill any snake on public land. That is also a misdemeanor and can carry a fine of $200 or 30 days in jail. (Title 51 – Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Chap. 3, State Parks, Sec. 51-3-145 (B)).​

Many of us have children and pets, and their safety is our number one concern.

“The best thing to do is to get a water hose. Snakes don’t like trauma, so if you get a cold water hose and you just spray them really hard, they’re going to head the other direction,” said Trish Hobbs, Park Coordinator at Reed Creek Park.

Even if you find a venomous snake in your yard, trying to kill it can put your life in danger.

“In fact, most bites occur when people are trying to kill a snake, so I would argue don’t try to kill any of them because if you are trying to kill a rattlesnake, that’s the time you’re going to get bit,” Hobbs said.

Snakes serve a big role in our ecosystem. They control rodent populations and serve as food for other animals. Certain types of snakes will even eat venomous snakes.

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