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Wild, Wild, East: See What Is Lurking In Our Backyard

There are many things to do in Eastern Carolina, but while local residents are outside enjoying what this region has to offer, they may not realize what's creeping around.

Eastern Carolina is rich with creatures that are watching your every move.

Some of the most common creatures are reptiles like snakes, both venomous and non venomous, turtles, alligators and frogs.

Rat and Corn snakes are non venomous snakes that can be found right in your backyard. But some harmful snakes that you might not want to run into are venomous ones like the the Eastern Diamondback Rattle Snake and the Timber Rattle Snake.

Eastern Carolina is known for it's beautiful coastline, and a number of sea creatures can be found in the waters on the coast. Various types of fish, sea urchins, starfish and crabs can be found.

The eight legged crawlers--spiders, are also very prevalent in the area. The ones people can expect to find the most are Orb and Wolf spiders.

The Black Widow, a venomous spider can be harmful, and is often found crawling around eastern carolina.

Many things can be found lurking in the waters of the East, and not just on the coast. Alligators also thrive in the waters here.

Things That Go Sssssss!

We continue our look into the creatures of the wild wild east with the slithering snakes of Eastern Carolina.

There are 27 species in the Tarheel State. 6 of these are venomous snakes including the Cottonmouth, Copperhead, Pigmy and Timber Rattlesnakes. Also on this list are the endangered Eastern Coral and the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake.

The most commonly seen snake in our region is the Eastern Wom or the Rat Snake.

Goose Creek State Park Superintendent Kelley Thompson says that snakes usually don't bite humans unless they are messing with them. She says that if you are bitten by a venomous snake, you should stay calm and get to a hospital.

The most likely snakes that can be seen at Goose Creek are the Cottonmouth and the Copperhead.

For a FAQ on snakes, click here

Curious about what kind of snake you've seen? Click here for more information.

Learn more about venomous snakes in North Carolina by clicking this link.



Crusty Creatures

Most of us love to hit the beach this time of year. But here in the East there are wild, wild creatures not only in that ocean, but in the sand as well.

Here are some of the sea creatures you will find along our shores:

Hermit Crab -- pose no threat to humans, often scared of us, and resort to shell. Often a souvenir for kids.

Spider Crab -- not typically a threat at all, like to hang out on the sound side of island, most times skirt away from you.

Horseshoe Crab -- they look scary, but also lay on the bottom of ocean, and scurry off, no threat.

Blue Crab -- these guys can actually give you quite a pinch, most often in sound areas and nearby rivers.

Sharks-- over 50 different species to our coast. Most times we will see nurse sharks, sand sharks, doghead sharks, and bonnet head sharks. The more agressive sharks, tiger sharks and bull sharks are less frequent here on the Carolina coast.

So what should you do this summer when visiting the beach to stay clear of all these crusty creatures?

Here are some tips:

Sharks

-Don't swim after 5. An easy thing to remember is is between the months of 5 and 9, swim between 9 and 5.

-Don't wear flashy jewelry in water, gives appearance of shimmering fish scales.

-Don't swim around piers where bait fish lurk.

-Don't go in the water if bleeding

-Usually shark bites are case of mistaken identity, a bite and release, when they realize you are not a fish.

-Chances of getting bitten by shark: More likely to be killed by a coconut falling on your head, more likely to be struck by lightning twice.

Jelly Fish

-Most time you will see cannonball or cabbage head jellies, washed up on shore. Experts say they may give you a little sting. Sea nettles, in the water may do the same.

-Experts say if you leave the sting alone for 15-20 minutes often times sting goes away, unless you are allergic, then seek help.

-Remedies some people have that work: Meat tenderizer and baking soda, or simply using sand to scrap off the area or a dry towel. Often applying hot or cold water or vinegar can make sting worse.

Sting Rays

There are three types we may see here in Eastern Carolina. They are the Atlantic, Southern and Calnose ray.

All have barbs that produce venom. Barb is kinda like the material of a finger nail.

-Usually a stingray stings when it is directly stepped on, feels like wet velvet.

Tip: Shuffle in the surf to spook off stingray, so your not directly stepping upon it.

We certainly want you and your family to have fun this summer at the beach. Just me mindful of the things around you and remember, bring plenty of sunscreen!

What are your chances of being bitten by a shark? Click here to find out.

To learn more about sea creatures, you can click here.

And for everything you ever wanted to know about sharks, check out this link.



Creepy, Crawly Critters

Spiders can be found creeping and crawling all around Eastern Carolina.

Jason Bond, Associate Professor of Biology at ECU says there are thousands of different eight legged arachnids and many different species are found in this region.

There are over 40,000 species of spiders that have been found and Jason Bond an Associate Professor of Biology at ECU says anywhere from 300 to 500 species.

People living in Eastern Carolina can find many common spiders right in their backyard.

Professor Bond says people are likely to run into orb weaving spiders, also known as Writing spiders. Those are spiders that weave a unique web on trees.

Wolf spiders are also prevalent in Eastern Carolina. At night their eyes reflect if you shine light on them, and hundreds of thousands can be seen.

While many have arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, Professor Bond says for the most part spiders do not harm people. But one spider that people should keep an eye on is the black widow which is black with a red hour glass on it's body. If bitten by one, a toxic reaction from the venom can occur.

Professor Bond says one common misconception is that Brown Recluse Spiders are found in Easter Carolina. He says there are none here. If one is found it's been imported from the Midwest.

Spiders also do a lot of good in nature. They capture many insects to keep insect population under control.

To learn more about spiders, you can click here, or this think.



What A Crock. NOT!

In just one Eastern Carolina county, there are an estimate 1,000 alligators calling it home. And expects say for every one alligator seen, there are five others lurking around.

Here are some other facts on the American Alligator:

-Can obtain lengths up to 18 feet and 1200 pounds
-Prefer to live in a temperature range of 82-92 degrees
-They stop feeding in temps below 70.

Alligators are egg layers, laying between 30-72 eggs, incubation period is about 62-65 days -Mating season starts in may ends in July. Eggs start to hatch late August.

Males tend to be larger than females, it can take up to 7 years for an alligator to reach 7 feet in length.

-Alligators live in swamps waterways lakes lagoons ponds streams inlets basically anywhere there is a food source.
-With encroachment or increase building these animals are forced into more urban areas more contact with humans.
-Alligators have over 1000 teeth, and pack a punch of 1000 pounds of pressure if you are bitten.

Each spring the calls start to come in to ponds near homes. Do not approach alligators, or taunt them with food. They will continue to come around humans if they feed them or leave them scraps.

It is illegal to feed, harass, molest, hunt, bait, capture or kill an American alligator. This is punishable by law with a fine imprisonment or both.

You should report any suspected illegal activity to Wildlife Resource Commission, at 1-800-662-7137

For more information on alligators, check out the HERP wildlife website.

If you want to know more about alligators here in North Carolina and other mid Atlantic states you can click here.


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