2019 is shaping up to be the worst year for snakebites in many parts of the US. According to the Wallstreet Journal, venomous snakebites are on the rise in North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas and look to set new records.
According to each state poison control centers, North Carolina and Georgia saw a 10% rise in venomous snakebites, while Texas is seeing a rise of 27% over May and June of this year.
The Majority of bites are from Copperheads and most are in newly expanding suburbs. The two major reasons biologists give are rapid urbanization, and last winter’s record-setting rainfall, which has a huge correlation to snake activity.
“There’s no question as we build out more, we’re definitely inhabiting the areas where snakes reside,” said Gaylord Lopez, the managing director of the Georgia Poison Center.
Copperheads are extremely adaptable and finding a niche in suburban environments. People just go about their normal business and do not even realize they are in close proximity to a snake until its too late.
Wet winters also drive snake activity, according to Grant Lipman, who conducted a 2018 study of 20 years of California snakebite data. He found that snakebites decreased after periods of drought and increased after periods of heavy rain. This past winter was the wettest on record in the U.S., with 9.01 inches of precipitation, 2.22 more than the average.
Scientist postulate that increased rain displaces snakes from flooded swamps and rivers as well as causing a boom of flora and fauna, creating a ready food source for rodents who become food for snakes.
The best advice I can give to avoid being bitten is to pay attention to your surroundings. Especially when working outside.