JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – For those who don’t like snakes, experts say buying snake repellant is not the way to repel these animals.
According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, these repellants, whether commercially made or improvised, do not work. Substances such as pesticides, kerosene, diesel oil, sulfur and mothballs, as well as commercially available “repellents” are ineffective and extremely dangerous to spread around your home. The fumes and presence of these pollutants are bad for air quality, the environment and any preexisting health conditions. Using any pesticide, like mothballs, other than for its intended purpose is illegal.
According to MDWFP, snakes aren’t the enemy. They promote balance in the ecosystem. Only six of the 55 types of snakes in the Magnolia State are even venomous. However, to prevent seeing snakes or getting snake-related injuries, the agency recommends keeping the following in mind.
Don’t kill snakes:
Snakes are important predators for injurious rodents and insects. The vast majority are nonvenomous and completely harmless to people. Nearly all snakebites take place while people are killing the snake or otherwise tormenting, capturing, skinning, or handling them.
Watch where you walk, sit or place your hands:
Snakes like to hide in stumpholes, under boards and sheet metal, in brush piles, and next to fallen logs. If you encounter one, simply back away from the snake.
Leave dead snakes alone:
Recently killed snakes can bite reflexively. Never try to examine the mouth for the presence of fangs to determine if the snake is venomous. The fangs are enclosed within gum tissue and may be difficult to locate.
Keep your property clean:
One can never completely rid a given area of snakes. To reduce the number of snakes around your property, keep areas free of trash, brush and log piles. Mow the grass near your home frequently. Rats and mice make up the diet of most snakes and they are attracted to unkempt areas. As a result, snakes follow in search of both food and shelter.
- More than 85% of all snakebites are by nonvenomous species.
- Of all bites by venomous snakes, 25-50% do not inject any venom.
- More importantly, mortality is less than 1% for physician-treated venomous snakebites in the United States.
- Snakes are not aggressive. Snakes do not chase people and they bite only when they are threatened. When approached most flee, or lie motionless to blend into their surroundings and escape notice.
For those wanting to know if the snake they saw outside is venomous, look for these features.
Located between and slightly below the eye and nostril on each side of the head. These indentations are heat-sensitive scanners that detect temperature changes, serving as an aid to the snake in hunting its food and identifying large warm-blooded predators. Snakes with these organs are collectively called pit vipers.
Vertically elliptical pupils:
Rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads have slit-like pupils (cat eyes). Native nonvenomous snakes have pupils which are round.
Single scale rows underneath the tail:
If the scales crossing the underside of the tail are made up of single rows (just like the regular belly scales), the snake is venomous. Native Mississippi nonvenomous snakes have a double row under the tail.
Rattle on the tail:
Three of the state’s six venomous snakes are rattlesnakes. The rattle consists of dry, interlocking segments which click together to create a sizzling sound. Baby snakes have a single button and new segments are added with each shedding of the skin. Pygmy rattlers have only a small rattle, which produces a sound no louder than a buzzing insect.
No pits, rattles, or “cat-eyes”- the coral snake breaks the rules. Brightly banded with red, yellow, and black, the warning colors are side by side (“red touches yellow, kill a fellow”). In the similarly colored and harmless “false coral snakes” the red and yellow rings are separated by black (“red touches black, friend of Jack”).