To some, snakes have a bad reputation; to be fair, we may not always consider snakes the friendliest creatures! However, in terms of conservation, snakes play a vital role in our ecosystem for many reasons. All ecosystems, including the Willowsford Conservancy, greatly benefit from our slithery friends.  
One of the primary purposes of conservation efforts at Willowsford Conservancy is to ensure that all animals native to the region can thrive and live in a healthy environment. Part of this work includes preventing the overpopulation of certain animals and keeping a balanced food chain. For example, you can see snakes as a free pest control service, as they keep the community’s rodent population down for all of us. Pests such as field mice, rats, and even insects that may be harmful to your garden, backyard shed, or basement can be a nightmare in instances of overpopulation! Another excellent reason for maintaining the rodent population is that rodents often carry ticks, including ones that may carry Lyme disease. Snakes help reduce the number of hosts for ticks, consequently reducing the prevalence of Lyme.  
Finally, snakes help keep the Conservancy’s bird population healthy! This region is home to a vast population of owls, hawks, eagles, and other species of beautiful birds which rely on a healthy snake population for sustenance and help keep the region’s snake population controlled.  
So, what should you do if you see a snake? Chances are that the snake is harmless and is more afraid of you than you are of it. The most common snakes in the community are rat snakes, garter snakes, northern water snakes, and ringneck snakes (in case you are wondering, none of these snakes are venomous!). Eastern copperhead snakes are venomous and are occasionally found in northern Virginia, but only rarely and are typically avoidant of human interaction. You can identify them by the distinct bright copper color of their bodies. 
When you see a snake, feel free to admire it from a distance! Also, let others nearby know that a snake is present. If you’re concerned about the type of snake you have encountered, don’t hesitate to contact us with questions at