Reasons to Not Kill Snakes
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4 Surprising Reasons to Not Kill or Pester Snakes


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Snakes. We know these reptiles make many people's skin crawl. It's likely something that was hard-wired instinctively into us by an ancient ancestor who was the first to succumb to a venomous snakebite. Thousands of generations later, that fear persists in many people to this day. Before we go any further, we should note we're not saying you should never kill a snake. We completely understand some people like to harvest and cook them for food, or to use their skins in line with a state's designated hunting season. Maybe there's a problem snake near your home that leaves few other options. Before you click off this article, at least hear us out on four solid reasons why you should avoid killing snakes whenever possible. At least in situations where you are not planning to eat or otherwise make use of the carcass.

Because snakes are much more helpful to humans than many people realize. Love them or loathe them, they are a vital part of the outdoor spaces most of us enjoy spending so much time in during our favorite activities. We just hope you'll keep an open mind about the subject and consider other options the next time one surprises you unexpectedly.

Snake Venom Has Led to Serious Medical Advancements

Reasons to Not Kill Snakes

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For many people, the venom of a snake is their number one reason for killing a serpent. It's true there are thousands of dangerous species out there that can cause great pain, suffering, and even death in some of the more dangerous varieties like the black mamba. However, snake venoms contain many complex enzymes and ingredients. Once separated, doctors can use them to treat many different ailments, thus prolonging the life of humans who may have died from preventable diseases.

One prime example according to the BBC, is the venom of Bathrops jaraca, a pit viper native to South America. From this snake's potent venom, scientists were able to develop drugs to treat coronary problems like high blood pressure and even heart attack. In another example, the National Library of Medicine reports how snake venom is being studied as a possible cancer treatment. More specifically, researchers are finding the proteins and enzymes from snake venom may bind to and even destroy cancerous tumor cells. Who would have thought?

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Obviously, more research needs to be done to unlock to the true potentials behind snake venom, but what has been done so far is promising. There's a bit of irony in one of nature's most feared creatures possibly being the solution to end one of humanity's most feared diseases. For us, that's a good reason to leave them alone unless it's absolutely necessary.

Snakes Kill a Ton of Pests to Humans

Reasons Not to Kill Snakes

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Perhaps the biggest reason to leave snakes alone is simply because of the rodents they kill. A healthy population of snakes will help keep rats and mice in check in areas where they might otherwise be overrun. For homeowners, that means less rodents in the home, for farmers, it's less of the pests raiding grain storage, or taking up home in barns where they could spread disease to domestic livestock or pets. It's not just threats by the mice themselves that snakes inadvertently affect either.

We recently spoke with tick expert Dan Wolff. He told us younger ticks start their lives by feeding primarily on mice and rats. This is also where nymph stage ticks usually pick up the bacteria that causes things like Lyme disease. As a result, places with more of a rodent problem also often have more cases of tick-borne illness. If you are regularly killing all the snakes on your land, you are inadvertently increasing the chances you might catch a disease. There are also snakes that feed primarily upon insects like grasshoppers or locusts that can be extremely harmful to a farmer's crops. Some people may not like it, but between ticks, mice, or snakes, we'll take the snakes every time.

A Snakebite Can Leave a Hefty Hospital Bill

Reasons Not to Kill Snakes

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If you start diving into many reports of venomous snakebites, few attacks are unprovoked. Many snakebites seem to happen when someone tries to either handle or kill the reptile. Some snakebite victims have then been left with hefty hospital bills. Antivenin can be insanely expensive. We know of at least one case where a rattlesnake victim was left with a six-figure hospital bill. The guy who got that bill was bitten while trying to take a selfie with the serpent. We're guessing after his injury he was left wishing he'd just left the animal alone.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 7,000-8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes here in the United States every year. Of that bunch, only about five people die from a bite. You are at much greater risk of dying of a heart attack or in a car accident. This simply means a lot of the fears on snakes are mostly unfounded. That's not to say you shouldn't have a venomous reptile under your kid's swing in the backyard removed. However, in most cases you aren't likely to see a snake again once it sees you. Most just want to get away and live to see another day. Unless you're harvesting the snake for meat in a legal hunting season, or one has been raiding your chicken coop regularly, there's not a lot of valid reasons to kill one.

Kill Snakes Takes Prey Items from Predators

We've already mentioned how snakes are an integral part of rodent control, but they serve another purpose on the food chain, as a prey item for many other species. Every time you kill one yourself, that's one less snake left over for larger predators. We can understand if you don't care about badgers, coyotes, raccoons, and foxes missing out on a snake meal. However, there's a bevy of bird species like bald eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls most of us can appreciate that use snakes as huge part of their diet. Even wild turkeys will sometimes kill and eat rattlesnakes if the opportunity comes along. Unless there's a good reason to take a snake out, like an over-population of serpents, you're likely just upsetting the natural food web of your area. If you don't like snakes, odds are at least one of these predators lives in your area and might take care of the problem for you.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram For original videos, check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels

READ MORE: A QUICK GUIDE TO ALL 18 SPECIES OF MICHIGAN SNAKE

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