Snakes are some of the world’s most feared animals. But why? Many people are afraid of snakes, even if they’re not Ophidiophobic (phobia of snakes). But what makes snakes so terrifying? Is it the way they resemble mythological sea serpents that attack ships in the ocean and eat humans alive? Is it because of the seemingly creepy way they slither? Or is it simply because sone snakes are venomous, which makes them scary to people? People may fear snakes because they don’t know which ones are venomous and which are nonvenomous, so they have to assume a snake is dangerous and could kill you. But in reality, only 25% of all snakes are venomous. Venom is often confused with poison, but they are different toxins. Venom is when an animal stings or bites. An example of a venomous stinging animal is the European Hornet. All bees, wasps and hornets are venomous. An example of a venomous biting animal is the King Cobra, the largest of all venomous snakes. Venom needs to be injected through either fangs, like a snake, or a stinger, like a wasp. Poison, is when you ingest something or touch a poisonous animal, such as a Strawberry Poison Dart Frog. Many people also think snakes are slimy, but snakes have smooth, dry skin. The most common snake in the U.S. is the Eastern Garter Snake. The chances are, you’ve seen these before.
Eastern Garter Snake in tree
Other snakes you are likely to encounter in the forest are Racers, Rat Snakes and Ring-necked Snakes. Near a river or pond, you are likely to see Northern Watersnakes.
Northern Watersnake, photo by me
Watersnakes are nonvenomous snakes, but are more dangerous than Rat and Garter Snakes. Watersnakes are agressive and will try to bite you if you try to pick them up, so it is best to leave these snakes alone. If you do handle a snake, it will take a little while to smell you and realize you’re too big to be prey. As long as you handle it gently and don’t hurt it, the snake will not bite. Venomous snakes, on the other hand, are a little different. If you handle it gently it won’t bite, but it is recommended you don’t handle these snakes. You should stay a safe distance away so you don’t get bitten and the snake doesn’t feel threatened.
Timber Rattlesnake warning not to get too close
Snakes are misunderstood animals, but in reality snakes are very helpful. They control the White-footed Mouse population by eating them. These mice ticks that cause diseases to humans. Next time you see a snake, you shouldn’t try to hurt it. You should leave the snakes alone, because they are fascinating animals and are helpful to the environment. You should learn about the snakes in your area. If you live in Virginia, the Virginia Herpetological Society is a good website on snakes and other herps. Snakes are beautiful animals, and I hope that more people can learn to understand and protect these amazing reptiles.