Spring brings increased snake activity to Mississippi
Photo courtesy of MDWFP

Watch out for snakes as the weather gets warmer.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife says that along with the chirping of birds and the blooming of flowers, spring also brings an increase in snake activity to the state.

With the temperatures rising, the department explains that snakes will begin to emerge from their winter habitats and seek out sunny areas in an attempt to raise their body temperature.

“They need their body temperature to rise so they can be more active for finding mates, producing offspring but, most importantly, they need the energy to search for food because most of them have not eaten anything all winter. People should be aware of this activity and pay close attention to their surroundings if they want to avoid a surprising encounter with a snake.”

Those who hunt and fish have an increased chance of having an encounter with a snake.

“Turkey hunters, in particular, should check thoroughly around their area before settling next to a tree stump or pile of brush before attempting to call a turkey,” the MDWFP warns.

Mississippi has more than 50 species of snakes, and while only 6 are venomous, the department urges you not to get close enough to find out the difference.

  • Suggestions for avoiding snake bites

Although snake bites are quite rare, leaving snakes alone and allowing them to go on their way is the best way to keep both you and the snake safe. Most snakebites occur when people try to move, kill or harass them. If you do not have a lot of experience with snakes, it is not always easy to distinguish venomous snakes from nonvenomous. Glaring distinguishing features such as eye shape or heat-sensitive pits are not easily recognizable from a distance. If you are close enough to see those variations you are probably too close to the snake.

Consider the following to reduce your risk of being bitten.

  • When you are in areas where there may be snakes, wear long pants and/or shoes that protect your ankles.
  • Always look carefully where you are walking or placing your hands.
  • Always use a flashlight for activities after dark such as gathering firewood.
  • Choose a campsite that is away from woodpiles, cave entrances, swampy areas, or thick underbrush.
  • Use care when moving boats left on shore for several hours.
  • If you see a snake, carefully step away from it. Never attempt to capture or kill snakes.
  • Treat “dead” snakes as you would live snakes.
  • If you are attempting to identify a snake, make sure you are not within its striking distance, which is usually 2/3 of the snake’s body length.
  • Bring a companion when traveling in areas where there may be snakes.
  • Remember that venomous snakes can climb trees, can bite underwater, and may enter saltwater.

For more information on venomous snakes in Mississippi – click here