If You Live Here, Prepare for an Influx of Snakes
If you're scared of snakes, you may want to spend a bit more time inside if you live here.
If the thought of finding a snake slithering through your grass near your home breaks you out in a cold sweat, you're far from alone. According to a 2014 poll conducted by YouGov, snakes topped U.S. residents' list of biggest fears, beating out spiders, mice, claustrophobic spaces, and even public speaking, with 64 percent of those surveyed admitting to having a fear of snakes. Unfortunately, that's particularly bad news for residents of one U.S. state, which is primed to have an influx of the legless reptiles this summer.
Speaking to DeseretNews.com, Utah State University Extension wildlife specialist Terry Messmer, PhD, explained that due to recent wildfires and drought conditions, residents of Utah are more likely to encounter snakes in residential and recreation areas this summer.
"We're getting calls earlier this year than ever," said Messmer. "All of them occurred in early June, while other incidences of snake sightings and bites were in later June in previous years. One deadly incident last year was with a person who was out recreating on trails, and these are all sightings in parks."
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DNR) notes that, during the summer, individuals are more likely to stumble upon a snake—including the five types of rattlesnake native to the state—on their property as the animals seek out water and food, which are typically plentiful in close proximity to humans. However, there are a number of ways to reduce your risk of a venomous snake encounter turning dangerous. The Utah DNR recommends staying at least five feet from a rattlesnake if you see one, not throwing anything at a rattlesnake or attempting to kill it, clearing your yard of debris where snakes can hide, and keeping rodent populations at bay to avoid attracting rattlesnakes seeking food. And while it may not be welcome advice to the snake-averse, the DNR suggests not trying to rid your property of non-venomous snakes, as the presence of another type of snake may prevent rattlesnakes from taking up residence.
While Utahns may be more likely to discover snakes in or around their homes this year, the state has long been a haven for the often frightening reptiles. According to a 2016 study published in the journal Pediatrics, Utah—a state that's home to 31 native varieties of snake—ranked 23rd among U.S. states for pediatric snake bites between 2000 and 2013, with 89.5 total snake bites per one million residents. However, the state's snake bite statistics pale in comparison to other U.S. locales. Read on to discover where you're most likely to be bitten by a snake in the U.S.
Proportion of total pediatric snake bites: 7 percent
Rate of pediatric snake bites per million: 69.7
Proportion of total pediatric snake bites: 9 percent
Rate of pediatric snake bites per million: 357.2
Proportion of total pediatric snake bites: 10 percent
Rate of pediatric snake bites per million: 223.6
Proportion of total pediatric snake bites: 16 percent
Rate of pediatric snake bites per million: 208.4