Heavy rains, flooding forcing snakes to seek higher ground in Arkansas- KATV
Posted: May 27, 2015 11:44 PM EDT
By Matt Mershon, Reporter
LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -Emergency rooms, even veterinarians' offices are reporting more and more snake bites. Recent heavy rains in Arkansas are the apparent cause of the problem. Snakes and other animals are seeking higher ground as flooding ensues.
Not only have heavy rains either flooded and washed away the natural habitats for Arkansas native snakes, making snakes seek shelter elsewhere, much of the snake's food supply is on the run as well due to the high waters.
“If the rats and mice and other small animals that they feed on have moved out, they're following that prey source,” said Neil Curry, facility director at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center.
Curry said most of the snakes people will end up encountering are probably harmless, but both venomous and non-venomous can and will bite if provoked.
Out of 36 species of snakes in Arkansas, only six of those species are classified as venomous. The way, although not easy, to tell the difference is that non-venomous snakes tend to have more rounded features – rounded head and pupil. A venomous snake tends to have more slit-like eyes and more rigid head.
The most common venomous snake in Arkansas is the copperhead. The cottonmouth snake, commonly referred to as a water moccasin, is the only venomous water snake.
There are three rattlesnakes common to Arkansas – the Western Diamond Rattlesnake, Timber Rattlesnake and the Western Pigmy Rattlesnake. The last venomous snake is the Texas Coral Snake.
“If it's red, yellow and black, you don't want to mess with it,” commented Curry regarding the Coral snake. Two snakes native to Arkansas mimic the Coral snake, but are not actually venomous.
Keeping a well-groomed lawn and making sure brush piles are cleared away give snakes less room to hide. If cleaning up brush, be sure to do it with a rake first to potentially dislodge any unwanted creatures seeking shelter.
As warmer temperatures approach, the inclination to wear sandals, flip-flops or just be plain barefoot isn't a great idea if snakes are lurking.
“A study pair of boots can make a big difference,” said Curry.
Snake bites, regardless of being poisonous, can still hurt and be dangerous. If not treated properly, snake bites from non-venomous snakes can become infected.
“Soap and water and remain calm,” recounted Curry as two things to do post-snake bite. “We always say get your car keys, get to the doctor, have it checked out and they'll take appropriate action if it is determined that it's a venomous snake,”
Rule of thumb is if you see a snake and don't know what type of snake it is – just leave it alone. Snakes try to avoid people.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says they can identify pictures of snakes. You can upload a picture to the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center for identification directly to their Facebook page or by messaging them by clicking here.