If You Live Here, Prepare for a Massive Influx of Snakes, Authorities Warn
This one area of the country could be see thousands of the slithering creatures in the near future.
Whether it's a garter snake in your garden or a copperhead in your crawlspace, encountering a snake can be an undeniably alarming experience. And while there are certain ways to reduce your risk of facing off with a snake on your property, from clearing brush from your yard to keeping wood piles away from the exterior of your home, not everyone is lucky enough to entirely avoid pests of the slithering variety.
In fact, one area of the U.S. is about to see a major influx of snakes, experts say. Read on to find out where a huge number of snakes will be out in full force in the near future.
RELATED: 5 Cleaning Habits That Attract Snakes.
One part of Illinois will see a major uptick in snake activity this month.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, Union County in Southern Illinois will soon see a massive number of snakes emerging from their habitats.
The snakes will be making their way through the LaRue-Pine Hills-Otter Pond Research Natural Area on the aptly named "Snake Road." Each year, the 2.5-mile road shuts down to allow for snakes, other reptiles, and amphibians to move from the animals' summer feeding ground in the LaRue swamp to the limestone bluffs across Snake Road. The area is home to 35 varieties of snakes, including some venomous ones.
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The snakes will be migrating for the remainder of the month.
The snake migration, which begins at the beginning of September, will continue through Oct. 30, according to experts from the USDA's Forest Service.
During this time, cars are prohibited from driving along Snake Road and visitors are not allowed to camp in the area overnight; build fires or use grills, fireplaces, or fire rings; or harass, remove, or kill any of the animals in the reserve. In an Oct. 4 interview with the Courier & Press, Scott Ballard, a biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, noted that individuals can be fined up to $1,000 for a first-time snake poaching charge, a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois.
The snakes are rarely aggressive to humans.
While the snake migration does include venomous snakes like cottonmouths, copperheads, and timber rattlesnakes, they're rarely aggressive or harmful to humans who encounter them.
"Snakes get a bad rap. They are not aggressive. They are very afraid of people," said Ballard. "If somebody steps on a dog and it bites them we say, 'Oh, it was just defending itself.' If somebody steps on a snake and it bites you, it's always, 'It attacked.' Well no, there are only two snake species in the world that will actually attack," neither of which are present in the LaRue-Pine Hills Research Natural Area.
If you encounter a snake, certain measures can keep you safe.
The same area will see an uptick in snake activity in the spring as the same snakes migrate once again. From Mar. 15 to May 15, Snake Road will close once again as the local snakes and amphibians return from the limestone bluffs back to the LaRue Swamp.
Whether you're in the area this fall or spring, the Forest Service recommends "slowly moving away if you encounter any snake." Experts at UC Davis Health also recommend wearing boots and long pants, steering clear of underbrush and weeds, never touching snakes even if they appear dead, and getting immediate treatment if bitten.