An Unkempt Garden of

TESL resources: Visitor Information for the NC Triangle

Critters that could hurt you:

There are four main types (six varieties total) of poisonous snakes in North Carolina. Here's a guide to distinguishing them.

Ticks sometimes carry Lyme disease. Avoid being bitten by ticks by dressing appropriately and wearing insect repellent when hiking (DEET is an effective ingredient in insect repellent, but it's somewhat controversial). Check yourself for ticks after any walk through woods or tall grass. If you notice the red circle that heralds lyme disease, or show its symptoms, take them seriously.

The vast majority of spiders are not only harmless, but beneficial, keeping many insect pests in check. There are two species of dangerously venomous spiders in North Carolina: the hourglass-adorned black widow and the innocuous-looking brown recluse. Both are small and live primarily under things or in holes. Other lovely spiders, including the yellow garden spider, the large and banded one sees in webs, and the jumping spiders common in gardens, are not a threat to humans.

Raccoons and bats are both very cute mammals, but they are major disease vectors for rabies, a deadly disease that is transmitted through animal bites. Don't handle raccoons or bats, especially if they are behaving unusually (even if docile). If you are bitten by either of these animals, or by any other animal that might be infected (a strange dog, cat, or any other mammal), check with a doctor about the possibility that you have been exposed to this virus. However, rabies infection in the United States is very rare, and all pet cats and dogs are legally required to be vaccinated against it.