JACKSON, Miss. – With rain and warmer weather in the forecast, snakes could be closer to you than you think.
While deadly snake bites are rare here in Mississippi, experts say snakes still strike hundreds of people in the state year.
“People say a good snake is a dead snake, but that’s not true,” Corey Wright at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science said. “Snakes are very helpful to the environment.”
Wight has worked with the Museum of Natural Science for 16 years and he says Mississippi is home to 55 snake species–six of those venomous.
“I always tell people if an animal such as a snake or a reptile has a mouth, they will bite…they can and will bite,” Wright said.
Terry Vandeventer, a Herpetologist and snake expert tells us the United States sees 8,000 venomous snake bites every year–with four deaths on average. Here in Mississippi there are around 200 snake bites each year.
“Generally, you’re bitten on the hand and/or the foot, because you’re doing something to get bitten,” Wright said. “Meaning either you’re either doing something or moving something.”
Vandeventer says 80-90% the bites come from people too close trying to kill the creatures.
“Snakes are defensive, so generally if you’re doing anything…it will protect itself,” Wright explained.
Warmer weather, heavy rain and invasion of snake habitats are all reasons Wright says Mississippians are seeing more of the serpents. Keeping a watchful eye out for snakes could keep one from striking you.
“The best thing to do is take two steps back, turn around and walk away,” Wright said.