How to get that snake to slither out of your life: Safety tips you should know

FWC officials offer advice for how to handle dealing with a snake

By Anna Johnson - Digital Journalist

ORLANDO, Fla. - When News 6 anchor Lisa Bell encountered a boa constrictor on her neighbors' roof, she reacted by livestreaming the entire event on Facebook Live.

"It might come out and it could squeeze you, and it could tangle you and it could bite," Bell's 4-year-old son, Henry, said in the video. 

While Henry's safety tips hold true, the Florida Wildlife Commission offers even more instructions for what to do if you come face to fangs with a snake.

What types of snakes live in Florida?

Florida is home to 44 species of snakes, six of which -- the eastern coral snake, the southern copperhead, the cottonmouth, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the timber rattlesnake and the dusky pygmy rattlesnake -- are venomous. All 44 species live in different habitats all over the state, from low, wet areas to dry vegetation.

Most of these species are harmless and eat common pests like rodents and insects. Some are even endangered. You can find a full list of Florida snakes here.

How should you react if you see a snake?

The FWC's first tip for when a snake slithers into your life is to leave it alone. Snakes would much rather avoid encounters with humans and are more likely to flee then attack. Snakes bite as their only means of self-defense, typically avoiding humans unless confronted.

If you happen upon a snake in the wild, give it a wide berth and slowly back away. Snakes can strike up to half of their body length's distance away.

The FWC website states, "There is no good reason to kill a snake except in the unlikely situation of a venomous snake posing immediate danger to people or pets."

That includes venomous snakes found in the woods or crossing the road, as they pose no threat to humans. Large snakes are also known to travel great distances, so a snake in a backyard one day could be long gone the next day.

If you continually see snakes in one area, there may be an easy fix.

An accumulation of debris, brush or lumber in your yard can attract rodents, which in turn attract snakes. Spilled bird seed from feeders and scraps from pet food bowls are also enticing to vermin. Clearing out yards and moving food sources inside may be able to help curb snake sightings. 

Wildlife trapper Bob Cross with a boa constrictor around his neck that was caught in Lisa Bell's neighbor's yard.

I want a snake gone. What should I do?

If you've encountered a venomous snake in close proximity to your home, or in Bell's case, a 6-foot boa constrictor loitering on a roof, the best course of action is to call a professional.

FWC officials will only capture exotic species that are not typically found in Florida's ecosystem. For native nuisance snakes, officials from FWC recommend contacting a wildlife trapper in your area. Bell called local trapper Bob Cross.

If you find an injured snake or other wildlife, call a local rehabilitation center. You can find a list of FWC licensed rehabilitators here.

Snakes found in the wild often want the exact same thing as the humans encountering them -- to be left alone. If you find yourself in a situation that merits a snake removal, stay as far away from the snake as possible and call for help.

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