April in Mississippi means spring is in the air. The birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and snakes are becoming more active. So, if you are in the outdoors your chances of running into a snake have significantly increased because of snakes changing habitats from one season to another.
Snakes changing habitats
During the winter months, snakes go through a long period of inactivity because of their cold-blooded nature. When snakes are inactive, it is because physical activity correlates to body temperature. Cold weather means less activity. While they are inactive, snakes will seek out dens, underground burrows, and sometimes they will even get into buildings until seasons change.
When spring finally arrives, often, you will find snakes basking in sunny areas. They need their body temperature to rise so they can be more active for finding mates, producing offspring but, most importantly, they need the energy to search for food, because most of them have not eaten anything all winter.
People should be aware of this activity and pay close attention to their surroundings if they want to avoid a surprising encounter with a snake. People who hunt and fish in the outdoors may have a greater chance of having a “run in” with a snake since they are more likely to visit prime snake habitat. Turkey hunters, in particular, should check thoroughly around their area before settling next to a tree stump or pile of brush before attempting to call a turkey.
Suggestions for avoiding snake bites
Although snake bites are quite rare, leaving snakes alone and allowing them to go on their way is the best way to keep both you and the snake safe. Most snakebites occur when people try to move, kill or harass them. Mississippi is home to more than 50 species of snakes, but only six species are venomous. If you do not have a lot of experience with snakes, it is not always easy to distinguish venomous snakes from nonvenomous. Glaring distinguishing features such as eye shape or heat-sensitive pits are not easily recognizable from a distance. If you are close enough to see those variations you are probably too close to the snake.
Consider the following to reduce your risk of being bitten.
- When you are in areas where there may be snakes, wear long pants and/or shoes that protect your ankles.
- Always look carefully where you are walking or placing your hands.
- Always use a flashlight for activities after dark such as gathering firewood.
- Choose a campsite that is away from woodpiles, cave entrances, swampy areas, or thick underbrush.
- Use care when moving boats left on shore for several hours.
- If you see a snake, carefully step away from it. Never attempt to capture or kill snakes.
- Treat “dead” snakes as you would live snakes.
- If you are attempting to identify a snake, make sure you are not within its striking distance, which is usually 2/3 of the snake’s body length.
- Bring a companion when traveling in areas where there may be snakes.
- Remember that venomous snakes can climb trees, can bite underwater, and may enter saltwater.
For more information on venomous snakes in Mississippi in visit https://www.mdwfp.com/media/news/education-outreach/venomous-snakes-of-mississippi/