Discover Nature this week with Jefferson Elementary School in Cape Girardeau as we learn about snakes.
Some people have such a fear of snakes that they actually avoid going outdoors to fish, hunt, hike, or picnic. Others kill every snake they see. This is too bad, both for the people who let the fear of snakes keep them from enjoying nature, and for nature itself. It's relatively easy to avoid direct encounters with snakes, and all snakes — even venomous ones — help control populations of rodents and other pests. They also are a food source for other wildlife such as hawks, eagles, skunks and herons. Learning about Missouri's snakes can help you overcome your fear and appreciate the role of snakes in nature.
Contrary to popular belief, snakes do not go looking for people to bite. In fact, snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them. To avoid attracting snakes to your property, keep things tidy. Don’t keep piles of boards, fence posts, or piles of rock or other items. Piles look like good hiding places to a snake. Also, make sure there are no holes or openings around doors or windows where snakes might enter. If a mouse can get in, be sure that a snake can follow it.
One type of popular snake is the Speckled King Snake. This snake is not venomous, and it’s great to have around because it eats venomous snakes and rodents. It’s a shiny black snake covered with small yellow spots. The belly is yellowish with some black markings. It’s also known as the salt and pepper snake.
You can learn more about Speckled Kingsnakes and other snakes at mdc.mo.gov.