Although most are harmless, snakes still give a majority of the population the creepy crawlies when spotted. I’ll be the first to admit that even if they’re behind a thick glass wall at the zoo, I still feel a little uneasy. Snakes like to bask in the warmth of the sun and come out of their hiding places when it’s warm outside, which isn’t a secret. What else isn’t a secret? Temperatures are becoming more extreme and weather events are starting to become more drastic. As the global temperature rises, so does the appearance and abundance of snakes.
With changing climate comes changing habitats and ecosystems. Globally warmer temperatures mean it’s more likely that animals (like snakes) will expand and explore new territories to call home. If the temperature fits their needs, why wouldn’t they? This is a scary scenario because even though snakes usually don’t bother people, there are definitely times where that’s not the case.
According to one study, there are nearly 100,000 deaths in the world per year due to snakebites. Luckily for us, the United States accounts for only 10 of those deaths every year. But what will happen when snakes move further from the equator and into communities they hadn’t always been in? Will the snakebite reports increase?
Scientists from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico’s Laboratorio de Biología de la Conservación and the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute have their opinions about that. Using climate and habitat models, they were able to predict how nearly 100 types of snakes would react to changes in climate. Their overall conclusion is that snakebite risk may rise with temperatures, especially in remote, rural areas. Their study also found that most of the species of snakes found in North American would likely increase their range.
However, there are studies out there that serve as a sharp contrast to this finding. Other scientists believe some snake species may get wiped out completely as a result of climate change, not expand further into the world.
What are your thoughts about snakes and climate change? Let us know in the comments below.