We all know Indiana hates snakes, but should he? Here, a couple of snake experts give us three big reasons why when it comes to snakes, the more the better.
1. More snakes = fewer venomous bites.
Here’s how it works: Non-venomous kingsnakes eat other snakes, like venomous copperheads. Where kingsnake populations drop, copperheads (and therefore perhaps potential for copperhead bites) leap. Keep your kingsnakes, folks!1
2. More snakes = less disease.
Snakes eat rodents. When that happens, researchers in Oklahoma say that incidence of rodent-borne disease like hantavirus and Lyme disease take a nosedive. They’re slick and smooth disease-weeding machines!
3. More snakes = more food for us.
While they weed disease, snakes are also scarfing down field pests and stored grain pests like some birds, mice, and rats.2,3,4
Despite these good deeds, Dr. Jones isn’t alone in hatin’ on the slink and sliver. Snakes remain one of humans’ most common phobias, and we may have evolved this fear to keep us safe in the olden days.5 But we’re not in the olden days anymore. We need to know more about snakes, to watch them without trying to kill them, to understand and appreciate their contributions to our backyards.
By Roar and David Steen.
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Meet our experts!
Dr. David A. Steen (@AlongsideWild) is a research fellow with the Alabama Natural Heritage Program; his research currently focuses on the conservation and ecology of the Indigo Snake, an animal that was recently reintroduced to the state. David blogs about his work and natural history at www.LivingAlongsideWildlife.com.
Dr. Warren Booth is an assistant professor in the Biology Department at the University of Tulsa. In addition to his renowned molecular ecology and population genetics work, Warren also sits on the board of directors for the United States Association of Reptile Keepers and discovered some kinky tidbits about some snakes’ sex lives.
Brooke Hatfield is a writer and illustrator who’s releasing a zine of Flannery O’Connor portraits next month as part of the Atlanta Zine Fest. Her dad has murdered a lot of rattlesnakes and kept their rattles, so she has spent ample time around snake butts.