Snakes have always had a bad reputation, from the story in Genesis of Eve being tempted by a serpent, to present day when some people just kill them because they are snakes. Snakes, even with their bad reputation, are very helpful in the animal kingdom. Black snakes eat mice and other varmint. So what would you rather have: a black snake that hangs out on your property, minding his own business and eating the family of mice that thrive in rural areas or having to go empty and reset the mouse trap every day?
What seems to be the trend in the human-animal relationship is that people are naturally scared of these slithering creatures. A few years ago, I was mowing my yard. I was using a push mower and stopped in my tracks and let the mower die. I had just seen snake #3 in my yard in about a 15 minute time frame. The grass was not overly tall; it was just the first mow of the season. Intrigued, I went inside the house, fired up the computer and Googled “Missouri Conservation Department” and decided to check into whom all of my neighbors were.
After looking around for a few minutes, I found the page that listed all of the snakes in the state, the region you would find them in, and which ones were poisonous and which ones weren’t, complete with pictures! It really set my mind at ease knowing that the 3 different species in my yard were the mellow, laid back snakes and not the kind that was featured on the movie Anaconda. The only poisonous snakes in Missouri were copperheads, rattlesnakes and water moccasins, all of which wanted nothing to do with my region of the state.
I know it’s warm and us outdoors folk like to spend a lot of time in the warm weather on the water or fishing. It’s really nice to be able to pick up some knowledge of the animals in our area instead of having a fear of them. So, just check your facts, know your snakes and be prepared in case of a run in with an unfriendly reptile.