When hear the word 'snake' or see one, chances are you or someone you know react with fear.
That reaction is becoming a huge a problem in the Houston area with consequences that may surprise you. The Houston Zoo is partnering with a conservationist in India for the King Cobra Project aimed to give the community an understanding of how to live cohesively with snakes without killing them.
“Snakes are incredibly valuable in the eco system. If we lose them then people will see that it will affect them because of the rodent control and rodents carrying disease issue. Snakes really keep a balance, so we really need them,” said Renee Bumpus.
“Most people, if they have a gun, they will shoot it. Sometimes they don't have a gun so all they have is a machete. They will use that,” said Chris Valdez who is part of the herpetology department at the Houston Zoo.
The same problem in Houston lives 9,000 miles away in the Eastern Ghats, located in southern India.
“I see that the attitude towards snakes is universal,” said Murthy Kantimahanti who is a conservation biologist for the Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society (EGWS.) “I always found them fascinating because snakes don't have external ears, they don't have eyelids, they smell with their tongue, they don't have limbs.”
He's an award winning conservationist visiting Texas as part of a project funded by the Houston Zoo.
“We hope that this project will become a symbol for a lot of other countries to take on and model, so they can replicate this on species that are difficult to deal with because of the fear level,” said Bumpus.
To keep snakes alive Murthy and members of the Houston Zoo are exchanging information with ways to keep snakes alive.
“Where he is from he has his top 4 venomous snakes that are a problem in his community, and we have our, you can say four or five venomous snakes,” said Chris.
We have several venomous snakes that call the Houston area home.
- cotton mouths
-timber rattle snakes
- coral snakes
“They are all venomous again they are very reluctant to bite you if you stay away from them,” said Chris. “You can just educate someone a little bit and it goes a long way.”
If you see a snake, Chris says leave it alone.
Now is the time to find a professional pest control company, if you haven't already, and have their contact information handy. If you see a snake outside or inside your house, Chris says leave it alone and call the professionals.
“There are plenty of people to help. It's just trying to get people to think about that first and engage in asking for help verses killing it off the bat,” said Chris.