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The Cardiologist's Wife - Snakes...Not All are Harmful!
Apr 26, 2017

As the weather warms up and people spend more time outdoors, the likelihood of encountering a snake goes up. No matter what kind, snakes are thought of as bad because of deep seated cultural or religious traditions when really they are mostly harmless and actually very beneficial to the ecosystem. It is possible for humans and snakes to coexist peacefully in the same area as actually you probably don’t realize they are there most of the time. Before you feel the need to kill every snake that crosses your path, take the time to learn a few facts. I spoke with Cody Walker of the Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center for more information.

Cody says there are four venomous snakes found in northeast Arkansas: copperheads, cotton mouths, timber rattlesnakes and pygmy rattlesnakes. The Nature Center has a free guide to Arkansas snakes and the staff is always happy to answer any question you have.

Snakes are a natural form of pest control. Without snakes, we would be completely overrun with mice, rats and other rodents. Small snakes eat insects such as roaches. That being said, non venomous snakes have teeth and will bite when frightened or to protect itself. Teach your children to leave all snakes alone, just as you teach your children to be careful around unfamiliar dogs (or even people!).

If you find a snake in your yard or garage, give the snake plenty of space to leave. A frightened snake, even non venomous, will strike in self defense, flatten it’s head and puff up to look more intimidating, or shake it’s tail just like a rattlesnake to scare you off. A leaf blower is an effective way to move a snake to a different location without harm to snake or person. You can also use a water hose to encourage the snake to move along. Use a long handled net to scoop a snake out of your pool. Note that it is illegal to kill any kind of snake under Arkansas law according to Cody, though you may do so if you feel you are in immediate danger. You might want to think twice about posting those pictures of dead snakes on Facebook.

If someone is bitten by a snake and you are 100% sure it was non venomous, you should immediately clean the area with soap and water. Follow up with your family doctor as any bite no matter the source can get infected and you might need an antibiotic. If you can’t identify or didn’t see the snake, assume it was venomous and seek medical help immediately, especially if the victim is elderly or a child.

There is no guaranteed way to snake proof your yard; contrary to popular belief, moth balls or other commercial repellants don’t work. Cody says the most effective thing is to keep a clean yard - move brush, rock piles and dense vegetation where rodents and hunting snakes like to hide away from the foundation of your house. Mow your yard where children and pets play. Be careful when working in tall grass, brush or piles of leaves.

If you want to keep snakes out of your house (and other pests like rodents) make sure your home’s access points have tightly fitting doors and windows. Seal any cracks or crevices that might allow pests to enter, even up under the eaves of your house. Pest control services like Terminix offer pest exclusion services.

Just so you know, you are more likely to die from a dog attack/bite than a snake bite. Think about that the next time you pet man’s best friend!

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