Happy World Snake Day! Each year on July 16, people all across the globe celebrate snakes – a group of animals that are often underappreciated and misunderstood. Most snake species found in Virginia are naturally reclusive and avoid contact with humans whenever possible, which can perpetuate the negative myths and misconceptions people may have about them.
This year, the Wildlife Center is reflecting on the snakes that have been admitted during the past 12 months, common circumstances of injury and rescue, and the valuable lessons therein to help people better understand and protect these incredible animals.
Since July 16, 2022, the Center has admitted a total of 50 snakes:
- 1 Black Kingsnake
- 2 Cornsnakes
- 1 Dekay’s Brownsnake
- 1 Eastern Copperhead
- 8 Eastern Gartersnakes
- 1 Eastern Hog-nosed Snake
- 3 Eastern Kingsnakes
- 1 Eastern Milksnake
- 28 Eastern Ratsnakes
- 3 Northern Ring-necked Snakes
- 1 Northern Watersnake
It’s not possible to know the exact details of every patient’s circumstance of injury, but based on the information provided by eye-witness rescuers and volunteer transporters, the three most common reasons these snakes were admitted to the Wildlife Center included:
Young or juvenile snakes failing to thrive on their own
Snakes are a highly adaptable group of animals that occupy many ecological niches, but they face many of the same threats that affect other species, such as habitat destruction and segmentation, global climate change, and pollution. Some of these issues are on such a large scale that it may seem impossible for a single individual to make a difference – in reality, simple modifications to human behaviors and the way we treat snakes can make an impact! Learn more about living with snakes as neighbors, and how to help them thrive in the wild, here.
Snakes (and most reptiles in Virginia) are more active during the spring and summer months compared to other times of the year. Consistently warm temperatures and abundant sources of food result in many snakes traversing their environments more often – when roadways or parking lots infringe on those environments, snakes are likely to be hit by moving vehicles. Always remain vigilant for wildlife crossing roadways, but be especially mindful of snakes during the spring and summer months. Be prepared to help injured snakes by keeping a Car Rescue Kit for Wildlife on hand!
Attacks from outdoor cats, dogs, or other animals
In 2016, The Journal of Wildlife Management published an extensive 11-year study conducted by the Wildlife Center of Virginia, which shows that domestic cat attacks are one of the most frequent and most lethal causes of animal admissions at the Center. These non-native predators kill billions of birds, small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians each year. Sadly, when wild animals are attacked by cats, their chances of survival are extremely low, due to both the severity of direct injuries and the very aggressive infection that invariably occurs with cat-related injuries, including minor scratches or bites. Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives compared to free-roaming felines – and wildlife are safer, too. It can be challenging to transition a free-roaming outdoor cat to an indoor-only lifestyle, but with patience, diligence, and enrichment, a successful transition is possible.
World Snake Day is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about native snakes and how we can protect them. Check out the latest video created by the Center in honor of World Snake Day that covers frequently asked questions, myths, and this helpful infographic with tips for living side-by-side with these fascinating reptiles. Be sure to share with friends and family to help us spread the word – snakes are worth celebrating!