State environmental officials want you to learn to like snakes.
No, really. Even if the squirming, cold-blooded, legless reptiles make your skin crawl the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which is taking part in the Year of the Snake promotion, says there's a lot you should appreciate about Connecticut's snake population.
Just consider some of these heart-warming attributes about snakes the DEEP included in a recent press release:
- Some snakes constrict their prey until it suffocate
- Some eat their prey alive
- Venomous snakes inject their prey with venom through fangs
- Snakes have special jaws that help them swallow their food whole, and strong digestive juices, called enzymes, that quickly dissolve prey, including fur, feathers and bones
- Snakes bodies are covered with scales
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The DEEP this year is teaming up with the group Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC), which has declared 2013 "The Year of the Snake," in an effort to raise awareness of snake conservation and the importance these animals play in our ecology.
And just beause no one's passing along cute snake photos on Facebook these days doesn't mean there really isn't a lot to appreciate about our no-legged reptile friends, DEEP officials say. (They eat a variety of rodents that might otherwise overpopulate, for instance.)
There are 14 snake species living in Connecticut. Four of them(the common ribbonsnake, eastern hog-nosed snake, smooth greensnake, and timber rattlesnake)are currently on the state's endangered, threatened and special concern species list. Only two of Connecticut’s snakes are venomous, the northern copperhead and the endangered timber rattlesnake, which are not common in most areas and avoid human contact.
"Hundreds of snakes are needlessly killed by people each year because of mistaken identity, fear, and misunderstanding," the DEEP says in its release. "Very often, when a snake is found near a home, people panic and may even assume that the snake is dangerous or venomous. Few Connecticut residents realize that they are unlikely to encounter a venomous snake around their home."
Here's how, the DEEP says, you can help protect snakes.
- Never release a captive, pet snake into the wild. It could have a disease that is difficult to detect, but can harm native snakes.
- Never collect a wild snake to keep as a pet. Any person who collects (or kills) a protected snake species could be faced with fines or legal action.
- Watch for snakes basking on or crossing roads.
- Avoid running over snakes with your vehicle, but only if it is safe to do so.
- Learn more about snakes and educate others.
For more information about snakes and snake conservation in Connecticut during the “Year of the Snake” subscribe to the DEEP’s Connecticut Wildlife magazine. You also can visit PARC’s website, as well as the Year of the Snake page on the DEEP’s website.
Connecticut's Native Snake Population
Common Ribbonsnake (special concern)
Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (special concern)
Northern Red-bellied Snake
Smooth Greensnake (special concern)
Northern Black Racer
Timber Rattlesnake (endangered)