Local wildlife experts offer tips on identifying venomous snakes - KOAM TV 7

Local wildlife experts offer tips on identifying venomous snakes

Federal health experts estimate 7,000 to 8,000 people in the United States are bitten by venomous snakes each year.

Local wildlife experts offer some tips on how to identify which snakes in our region are safe and which are not.

Some residents in the Four States say they have seen an increase in snakes lately.

"It seems like in the past week, I've seen a whole bunch of them on the road," said John Thompson, Pittsburg resident.

"I ran one over the other day," said Andrea Thompson, Pittsburg resident.

And their approach after finding the slithering creatures varies.

"I would run very fast in the other direction," said Eva Connolly, Pittsburg resident.

"I would freak out, grab a shovel and kill it," said John Thompson.

Local wildlife experts say there are only 5 venomous snakes found in the state of Kansas, which are the copperhead, the cotton mouth, the timber rattlesnake, the prairie rattlesnake and the massasauga.

The copperhead is one of the most common venomous snakes in this area, but experts say even those are rare.

"For any one poisonous snake you see, you see probably 10 to 20 non-poisonous at least," said Logan Martin, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.

The prairie rattlesnake and cottonmouth snakes are not found in the Four States area.

Martin says the others can be identified by key characteristics, such as a sensory pit located between the eyes and nostrils.

"They will have a bigger head sticking out and the eyes are a dead giveaway," Martin said. "They will have cat-like eyes. They'll have the vertical pupil when they're exposed to light."

Martin says the color patterns on venomous snakes can vary depending on age and surrounding.

Should a snake bite occur, he says having an accurate description is crucial.

"If you could get a picture of the snake that bit you, or at least a good mental picture, you could tell somebody what kind of snake it was and they can get you the right anti-venom," Martin said.

He says the poisonous snakes in our region are not generally aggressive.

"If somebody almost steps on one, the snake feels threatened," Martin said. "They're not going to be chasing you or anything like that."

That is why he recommends taking non-poisonous snakes to a wooded area rather than killing them.

"If it's helping everybody else out, killing mice and stuff like that, there's no need to kill it," said Derek Brooks, Girard resident.

Area wildlife experts also say snakes follow the food source, which could mean a high abundance of rodents or frogs in an area seeing an increased amount of the reptiles.

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