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Warm and sunny weather means snake season is here

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 6:43 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Every spring the weather warms up and snakes come out from their warm homes.

Love them or hate them, the slithering species plays an important part in the ecosystem.

“Snakes do provide a lot of value to South Dakotans. As I mentioned before, they do provide some rodent removal. Mice, moles, they do eat some lizards, other amphibians, and insects as well. So, a lot of those species that I mentioned there, people don’t find a lot of value in at least in high number so snakes help out with that,” said Mike Klosowski the Regional Wildlife Supervisor for Rapid City’s Outdoor Campus.

South Dakota is home to around 15 species of snake and only one of which is dangerous.

The prairie rattlesnake is the only venomous snake in the state and, as their name suggests, they primarily like to hang out in open prairie-like areas or rocky slopes.

If you hear this familiar rattle, do not be alarmed. The snake is only trying to make you aware of its presence.

“They do have an inherent alarm system that they’re trying to put to use to let you know, ‘hey leave me alone.’ So, that’s designed to let large animals know that rattlesnake is there,” said Terry Phillip, the Curator of Reptiles at Reptile Gardens.

But what do you do if you are bitten by this venomous snake? Phillip said, “you do not want to use tourniquets, you do not want to use cut and suck methods, you do not want to use ice, you do not want to hook yourself up to your car battery and electrocute yourself. These are all common things. What you do want to do is immediately get rapid contact and transport to the nearest hospital. The only treatment for snakebite in this country is antivenom. Antivenom is only given in the hospital.”

Ultimately, the best thing you can do is to not approach the snakes and to leave them alone.

If snakes are an issue at your home, you can call animal control or a professional to remove them.

Reptile Gardens and the Outdoor Campus both provide additional resources to educate yourself on the animal.

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