July 16 is World Snake Day

"Why did it have to be snakes?" - Indiana Jones

In the eyes of the world, snakes are almost always the villain. From the biblical tale of the serpent in the Garden of Eden all the way to current pop culture, you rarely see snakes portrayed as anything but the bad guys. Look at these examples, ranging from actual snakes to people using snake-themed names to signify their awfulness:

  • Cobra Commander: Evil terrorist leader from G.I. Joe
  • Kaa: The sly, sneaky snake in the Disney version of The Jungle Book
  • Jake "The Snake" Roberts: bad guy wrestler who used a real boa constrictor to terrorize his opponents
  • The Serpent Society: a gang of snake-themed supervillains from Marvel Comics with names like Sidewinder, Viper, Asp, Diamondback, and Cottonmouth

Yes, it's true that many snakes can be dangerous. But it's important to remember that they are also a very important part of our overall environment and ecosystem. For World Snake Day, we thought we would share some information to help you better appreciate our reptilian friends.

Alabama Snakes

Alabama is home to a wide variety of snakes. Here's a rundown of some of the snakes that call our state home.


  • Black Racer
  • Southern Hognose
  • Scarlet Kingsnake
  • Eastern Coachwhip
  • Pine Woods Littersnake


  • Copperhead
  • Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • Cottonmouth/Water Moccasin
  • Pigmy Rattlesnake
  • Timber or Canebreak Rattlesnake
  • Eastern Coral Snake

For a more comprehensive list of snakes in Alabama, visit Outdoor Alabama.

For detailed descriptions on how to recognize many of these snakes, visit Children's of Alabama's Poison Information Center

Snakes Can Be Good Neighbors

Believe it or not, there are benefits to having snakes around. For example, many snakes eat things like ticks and spiders and other arachnids and insects. Timber rattlesnakes eat mice and rats, and when they do they also eat all the ticks those rodents may be carrying. That in turn makes these rattlesnakes an important ally in controlling Lyme disease!

This video from Save the Snakes shows why snakes should be viewed in a more positive light. 

Keep Snakes Away

Even if you recognize that it's a good thing to have snakes nearby, you probably don't want them hanging out in your yard or chilling on your porch. Here are some simple things you can do to keep snakes at a distance:

  • Mow your lawn regularly.
  • Use pest control to keep snake food like insects and rodents away from your home.
  • Eliminate standing water.
  • Clear away clutter like coiled hoses and piles of tree limbs or brush - anything that looks like a nice, shady hidey-hole for snakes.
  • Use natural repellents like sulfur, vinegar, and garlic and onions.

What to Do If You Get Bitten

If someone is bitten by a snake, call for emergency assistance immediately. While waiting for help, Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends taking the following steps:

  • Wash the bite with soap and water.
  • Keep the bitten area still and lower than the heart.
  • Cover area with a clean, cool compress to ease swelling and discomfort.
  • Monitor breathing and heart rate.
  • Remove rings, watches and other constrictive items.
  • Note the time the bite occurred.
  • Draw a circle around the affected area.
  • Try to gather any details you can about the snake.
  • DO NOT apply a tourniquet.
  • DO NOT try to suck the venom out.

Visit the National Capital Poison Center for more information on snakebites.

We don't have to love them --- we don't even have to like them --- but at the very least we can all appreciate that snakes are an important part of the natural world around us.