Current conditions prime for increased snake activity

  • Published
  • By Airman Ashley J. Woolridge
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
With all of the construction taking place on and around base, as well as the dry climate conditions, area residents may begin to notice a few uninvited "guests," such as snakes, in their homes and yards.

Kenneth Grimes, 28th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management foreman, said snakes are attracted to well-maintained yards for a variety of reasons.

"Generally, snakes are coming in because of the drought," Grimes said. "They're looking for the lush, green grass from us watering our lawns, and they're looking to eat the insects and rodents the moisture brings in."

Grimes said there has not yet been an increase in the number of snakes in base housing, but there are certain species native to this area. "People may find garter snakes," Grimes explained. "They are black, with green or yellow stripes. They're not poisonous, but will hiss and strike if cornered."

There are also a large number of bull snakes in South Dakota, which can easily be mistaken for the more dangerous prairie rattlesnake. "Bull snakes look similar to prairie rattlesnakes - they hiss and shake their tail, as well," Grimes said. "Bull snakes aren't poisonous, but they will bite. A prairie rattlesnake has a subdued green or gray color, with an average size of about two to three feet."

For more information on the state's indigenous snake population, visit

Tech. Sgt. Jeromy Bryington, 28th CES NCO in charge of pest management, said he and the other seven members of the shop work hard to educate Airmen and their families about the local varieties of snakes, and what to do if they spot one.

"We do briefings at Right Start and other classes," said the Montana native. "In addition to the briefings, we also work directly with public health to inspect places like the DFAC (dining facility) for flies and other pests."

Grimes, who hails from Illinois, said there are certain measures base residents can take to help prevent snakes from lingering in their lawns or homes.

"Snakes like cover," Grimes explained. "Keep the area of your lawn around your house cut low. Get rid of any likely hiding places - don't leave a lot of wood or other things like brush piles laying on the ground, and keep leaves and other debris away from the house. Also, repair cracks in your house's exterior because snakes only need about a quarter of an inch to get inside."

Bryington said that although the pest management staff is on hand to assist Airmen and their families who have come into contact with snakes, it is essential for the animal to be monitored until they arrive.

"The important thing is to keep the snake in your line of sight," Bryington said. "Leave it alone, but keep an eye on it. If you do get bitten, stay calm and seek medical attention immediately."

Bryington and Grimes added that many times, the best course of action to take against a snake is none at all.

"Snakes are valuable animals - they eat insects, rodents and other things," Grimes said. "We don't want to kill them, our job is to relocate them to a less populated area. They play an important role in our environment."

People who see a snake or other pest can call the 28th CES Pest Management Office at (605) 385-2521, or call (605) 385-2580 after duty hours.