I was at a client’s house the other day doing a Wood Destroying Insect report and we got on the subject of our new business. I was telling him about it and soon we got to trapping live animals and he brought up snakes. He asked if we took care of those and I said yes, we do. Now, this was not a small man, he was 6’2” and weighing 230 pounds or so (Everyone is big to me). He said if he ever did see a snake in his house, I would then see several holes in the floor the size of shotgun patterns. It got me to thinking, is this a rational fear or not?
First off, how dangerous is a snake? They can be very dangerous, one bite can send you to the hospital and possibly kill you. But how many people are killed a year by snakes in the United States? Take a guess? Is it 100, 1,000, 10,000, or more? The truth is only about 12 people are killed every year in the United States by snakes. Considering all the time we spend in their habitat, that’s not a whole lot, even the lowly bee kills an average of 53 people per year and man’s best so-called friend, 31 per year. So the question remains, is that enough for a fear that can make some people unable to move, scream uncontrollably, or make some of your floor hard to walk on (shotgun guy, read above)?
I would say no. It’s an irrational fear. There is no snake in our area of East Texas that is going to actually hunt you down. They are going to stay away from you if they can, but sometimes they will chase prey (mice or rats) into your house or outbuilding. This was their area long before we got here and started taking their habitat.
Snakes are actually very beneficial to our environment. As stated above, they help to keep the rodent and insect population down. During the Black Plague of Europe, an estimated 50 million people died. The plague was brought on by fleas off of rats, bet they wished they had not killed so many snakes. They do this without the need for poisons or traps and tend to leave very little behind.
I am not suggesting that you go around picking up every snake you see. Most people who get bit by snakes are walking along a path and didn’t even know they were there. Most people who die from snakebites are actually inebriated. Think of a teenage boy, drunk and messing with a snake trying to impress some girl, they get bit and don’t go to the hospital.
How do you know if one is poisonous or not? Non-venomous snakes have a spoon-shaped rounded head, and venomous snakes will have a more triangular head. This is because of the venom glands (this is less noticeable on the coral snake, if you see red touching yellow on its body, it’s a coral snake). This method is not fool proof, so be careful if you don’t know for sure. If you ever are bit by a snake, if you know it’s not poisonous, get some antiseptic on the bite. There are all kinds of bacteria in snake bite that could get infected. If you don’t know or if it is poisonous get to the hospital as quick as you can.
I know this is not going to convince anyone to get over their irrational fear, and that isn’t the point of this blog. If you do find one in your house give us a call. We will remove it, and take it back to nature where it belongs. Snakes get enough bad press, I just thought I would put in a good word for them since they can’t speak for themselves.
The Bug’s End