For some reason far less people are bothered by lizards than snakes, yet the two are closely related. Both are pest predators. Perhaps if one thinks of snakes as legless lizards, it might help to make them seem less “scary.” There is no reason to fear snakes, and the benefits they provide make it worthwhile to have them around. When I meet someone scared of snakes, oftentimes it’s because they overreact or were mistakenly led to believe as children that “all” snakes are “bad.”
“Taking a few simple precautions can help diminish the chance an unwanted encounter with a snake turns into a problem,” said Dr. Dwayne Elmore, Oklahoma State University Extension wildlife specialist. He provided some helpful tips for folks who may run across snakes while cleaning up storm debris.
· Learn to identify venomous snake in your area, as not all snakes are venomous and most provide benefits in terms of controlling pests;
· During clean-up activities, wear heavy leather or rubber high-top boots, as well as heavy gloves, and wear pants legs outside your boots;
· Keep children away from debris, and use rakes, pry bars or long-handled tools when possible;
· Avoid sudden movement when you see a snake, as many tend to lose interest in a stationary target;
· If the snake does not leave after a few moments, back away with deliberate movements; and
· If somebody is bitten by a snake, stay calm and seek medical help. Try to identify the species of snake that bit the individual so medical personnel will know how to treat the patient.
Heath Herje is an agriculture educator with Cleveland County Cooperative Extension service.