Expect to see more snakes, but don't kill them, experts say

Posted at 5:37 PM, May 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-18 19:22:14-04

It's snake season! You might spot one in your yard or even your home.

Some people say the only good snake is a dead snake, but conservationists and wildlife experts say that couldn't be farther from the truth.

They urge you to leave them alone.  Killing them may do more harm than good, and it's illegal in Missouri.

"I never recommend killing a snake because snakes are extremely important to the ecosystem," assistant manager at Burr Oak Woods Nature Center Rebecca Miller told 41 Action News. "They eat a lot of rodents, mice, and other things people don't want in their homes either."

Snakes are the most active during spring time, but Miller encourages people to remember snakes are not out to hurt us. People are most often bit while trying to kill or handle one.

"If they're in your home, you can get a big trash can and a broom and just gently get the snake corralled into that container and take it outside and let it go somewhere where you're comfortable doing that," Miller suggests.

While reports are conflicting, two people have died from a snakebite in Missouri.



Osage Copperhead (left) and Timber Rattlesnake


Out of 47, only two species in the Kansas City area are venomous: the Timber Rattlesnake and the Osage Copperhead.



Miller says it's important to do  your research to know what those venomous snakes look like.

"A timber rattlesnake has a rattle on the end of its tail, that's the only snake that is going to have that," Miller explained.  "A Copperhead is kind of a brownish-orange color. And the best description is that it looks like it has Hershey kisses along its sides."

You can also tell a venomous snake by its cat-like pupils, which are long and resemble a slit.  Only venomous snakes have fangs.

Another way for people to avoid snakes is to clean up their yard.

"Old boards or piles of debris, those are places that snakes love because it's a great hiding place," Miller says.

That's just it, she says; snakes like to hide and are more afraid of humans than we are of them.  If you still see one, take a step back and assess the situation.

If a nonvenomous snake bites you, it'll feel like a scratch, Miller said.  Even if you're bitten by a venomous snake, your chances of dying are extremely low due to modern medicine.  Some venomous snakes don't inject venom, or don't have enough venom to kill a healthy person.

Miller hopes snake education early in a child's life will help dispel those fears in the future.