Ohio snakes: Why we need them


DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)- Snakes are not everyone’s cup of tea, but they are a very important reptile in our ecosystem.

Snakes are known as being aggressive animals out in the wild, but in reality, they are quite the opposite, looking to mind their own business.

Donna Harrison, curator of live animals at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery explained their routine.

“Wake up in the morning – they kind of have their little territory, and then they want to eat their food – kind of go back to sleep. They really don’t want to bother people,” she said. “They don’t want anything to do with us. They are generally really shy creatures and they want to be left alone, so the best thing to do if you do see a snake is to give it its space.”

There are many different species of snakes in Ohio, but only 3 of them are venomous. This, along with misconceptions about snakes, give the slithery reptiles a bad name, but snakes have a vital role in keeping rodent populations down.

“These guys are so beneficial for keeping our rodent numbers under control,” Harrison said. “Without snakes, birds of prey, foxes, coyote, we would be up to our eyes and ears in rats and mice, so we want to give these guys a little thank you for the job that they do.”

Since snakes feed on rodents, and are preparing for winter hibernation, you can find them where the rodents are, but always give them their space.

Jacob Barnes, owner of Barnes Wildlife Control said, “This time of year you are going to find them starting to feed heavily on rodents to try to put on weight before winter hibernation. You are generally going to find them in brush piles, places that mice, moles, shrew, different types of small chipmunks will harbor, especially around watersheds, creek banks, things like that,.”

He explained, “Treat all of them as they are venomous if you really don’t know, especially if you travel out of town.”

Barnes said that most of the venomous snakes reside south of the Miami Valley.

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