(Gray News) – Thank you, Mother Nature. It looks like it’s going to be a slithery spring.
After a winter that was warmer and wetter than average across much of the U.S., the country needs to be on snake watch, according to the experts.
“We’ve had a lot of rain and we had some pretty warm spells in February,” Virginia Wildlife Management owner Richard Perry told WWBT.
Snakes like those conditions. Increased populations are expected.
What the experts say
New research shows snakebites go up after a rainy season.
In their study that analyzed 20 years of snakebite data in California, Stanford University’s Grant Lipman and Caleb Phillips of the University of Colorado found that rattlesnakes and other venomous reptiles may bite more people after rainy seasons.
The study found “there was a significant increase in snakebites the year after a rainy season,” Lipman told Forbes.
“If it is a super rainy winter in 2019, people should be wary of increased snakes in summer and autumn 2020.”
Kurt Broz, a wildlife biologist for the Pala Band of Mission Indians in Southern California, said it comes down to simple biology.
“Snakes will be breeding because there’s more food,” Broz told Valley News.
That means babies, but they won’t be obvious immediately.
It will take a season or two for the surviving snakes to grow into adults, according to Broz.
“But if we have a couple more years of heavy rains, then we will see more snakes,” he said.
Wet and warm
The winter of 2018-2019 certainly ranked as one of the wettest and warmest on record.
For parts of the central and eastern U.S., this winter was wetter than average, the Weather Channel reported.
And while there were severe cold snaps late in the winter, much of the country still recorded near average temperatures.
The Southeast was the exception. Temperatures there were very mild.
In the Southwest, an Arizona fire department has already issued a rattlesnake warning ahead of the summer, WRDW/WAGT reported.
A family in the city of Buckeye, about 30 miles west of Phoenix, reported finding a family of rattlers living in their pool noodles.
Wildlife removal experts say snakes can easily get into places people frequent, which means folks need to be wary.
“One of the biggest problems we run into are snakes in garages, sheds, crawl spaces and attics,” Virginia Wildlife Management owner Richard Perry said.
The one good thing is snakes aren’t looking to attack humans. They tend to be shy creatures.
This is how the Humane Society of the United States recommends handling things when you encounter a snake:
-- Leave it alone
-- Identify it by species
-- Continue to leave it alone so long as it is not venomous and not inside a house or building
The rules change with venomous snakes, according to the organization.
“If you encounter a venomous snake in your yard, take it seriously,” the group’s website says. “The snake should be removed to ensure that no one, including pets, gets hurt. Note: This does not mean the snake has to be killed.”
A professional snake remover can handle the job and relocate the unwanted neighbor.
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