HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The warmer months in the South means more reptiles are out and about, especially snakes. The Hattiesburg Zoo offered some tips to keep safe during outdoor activities.
Snake Expert Stephanie Buckley said, snakes are now waking up from their brumating slumber and residents will see them on the road and outside property. “You are going to see them on roads more, trying to warm up” Buckley said.
Buckley said out of the 48 species of snakes in Mississippi only 6 are venomous. “It is very unlikely to run into a venomous snake” said Buckley.
The six venomous snakes in Mississippi are: Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Canebrake Rattlesnake, Pigmy Rattlesnake, Copperhead, Water Moccasin, and the Coral Snake.
She said one way to tell if a snake is venomous is by its eyes. “The best way to tell is kind of the dangerous way…the pit vipers around here will have cat like slit eyes, and non-venomous snakes, will have sort of a round pupil eye” said Buckley.
She added, “But at that point you are getting really close to a snake, so the best thing to do is leave them alone.” Buckley mentioned if you do get bit by a snake to try and take a picture of the snake for proper medical attention as local hospitals are required to carry anti-venom.
“The number one thing you want to do is stay calm, you do not want to raise your blood pressure, and raising you blood pressure will have the venom going through your body faster” Buckley said.
Also, if you are bit on the leg to be as still as possible or have someone carry you. “Try not to move especially if it is your leg or ankle, if it is your arm, do not raise it above your head, keep it down heart level or lower” said Buckley.
She said to ignore all the myths, such as, sucking out the venom, do not put a tourniquet on it, “this can actually cause the tissue to be damaged quicker, and you can lose a limb” said Buckley.
The best thing to do is to be aware of your surroundings and if you do spot a snake to leave it alone and don’t go near it. “Avoiding them is the best thing you can do, whether they are venomous or on-venomous you are out in their home” Buckley said.
She added, “You do not want to kill it, they are helping you the eat rats and mice which carry diseases. So they are keeping you clean.”
If snakes continue to be a problem and come around your property, family, and pets often you can call animal control to remove the snakes.