Poisonous Snakes in Missouri
With the weather warming up, you just might start seeing snakes slithering through yards, fields and creeks. I'm one of those people that hates snakes. I can handle spiders, I can handle mice, I can handle about anything else, but I can't handle snakes. The good news is, very few of the snakes native to Missouri are venomous.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, only five of the nearly 50 species and subspecies of snakes that live in the state are poisonous: copperhead, cottonmouth, western pygmy rattlesnake, massasauga rattlesnake, and timber rattlesnake. The Department of Conservation says that the copperhead is the most common of the poisonous snakes in Missouri.
Here's even more good news. There are very few fatal snakebites on record in Missouri. In fact, less than a handful. There were a couple of stories in the news in recent years about individuals in Missouri dying from snakebites, and in at least one of those cases it was thought the underlying health issues may have contributed to the death. Before those recent events, there were only two known fatal snakebite cases in the state: one in 1933 and another in 1965.
If you do come across a snake in the coming months, it is important to realize that killing it would be against the law. "The Wildlife Code of Missouri treats snakes, lizards, and most turtles as nongame," says the Missouri Department of Conservation. "This means that there is no open season on these animals, and it is technically unlawful to kill them. There is a realistic exception, however: when a venomous snake is in close association with people, which could result in someone being bitten."
The best thing to do if you come across a snake, as long as no one is in danger, is to leave the snake alone, or gently shoo it away. Or do what I normally do, which is run like heck and get as far away as possible!