Reported by: Meredith Garofalo
BRADENTON – There is certainly no shortage of snakes in Florida, as the state is home to more snakes than any other in the Southeast. This year, they seem to have come out of hiding earlier than normal, as some experts say the mild weather is to blame.
For the past nine years, one wildlife educator has been working closely with many types of animals. “One of my main jobs is to go out and capture injured animals, and rehabilitate them and release them back to the wild,” says Damen Hurd, who works at the Wildlife, Inc. Education and Rehabilitation Center.
Includes All Types Of Snakes
Hurd said that includes the slithering reptile that many hope to never find in their homes.
“I have a ton of experience with snakes especially,” Hurd said.
And although the snakes Hurd works with look to be under control, they actually can be pretty dangerous if you interact with the wrong ones. “We definitely have quite a few venomous snakes in the state of Florida,” Hurd said. “We also have exotic snakes like pythons and things like that here in the state. I never recommend anybody who’s not professional or doesn’t have any sort of training and ever touching any snakes in the wild or anything like that.”
Especially with reports of snake sightings up already this year.
“This year we have had a 70% increase of calls compared to last summer,” said Christy Norris, vice president of Nuisance Wildlife Removal.
Norris said it is something experts attribute to the warmer winter, early spring, and recent rains. “We’ve had an abundant call of snake removals,” Norris said. “With all the rains and stuff they’re looking for dry, high lands.”
Snake Bites Are On The Rise
So far this year, 235 snake bites have been reported in Florida as of May, up from the average for the last four years at 220. “What’s happening is people are thinking that it’s not a poisonous snake, and it actually is and they don’t realize that,” Norris said.
So the next time you see this creature chilling in your yard or house, it’s best to let them be. “Your best bet is to call you know a wildlife trapper that will come out, remove it, and take it to a safe habitat,” Norris said.
It’s important to remember that snakes would rather flight than fight. They usually will give you an ample warning before choosing to bite, which is their defense mechanism.
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