LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission will have a free online workshop on how to identify venomous snakes native to The Natural State on March 25 at 6 p.m.
Lori Monday, a regional educator with the commission, will be the presenter of the Zoom workshop.
According to Arkansas Game and Fish, Monday has held hundreds of workshops and school presentations on reptiles and amphibians in Arkansas.
Monday has tailored this online workshop specifically for people to learn the best ways to identify venomous snakes at a distance.
“With spring, we have a lot of people who are ready to get out and enjoy some fishing, bird-watching and turkey hunting,” Monday said. “But more than a few will express some fear of running across a venomous snake. We want to give people the tools they need to be safe and more confident in the woods and on the banks of our streams and rivers.”
Monday says some of the old methods of identifying venomous snakes can mislead people and even put them at unnecessary risk.
“A common misconception is that all venomous snakes have slit or ‘cat’s eye’ pupils,” Monday said. “That may be true for rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths, but the coral snake which is a venomous snake native to Arkansas has round pupils. And if you’re close enough to tell what kind of pupil they have, you’re probably getting too close to the snake.”
Monday says other methods, such as looking for a broad head, doesn’t always work.
“Again, the venomous coral snake has a slender head and many nonvenomous watersnakes have broad heads or can flatten their heads out when threatened,” Monday said.
The workshop will focus on the six venomous species in Arkansas and give tips on how to identify them to help people keep their distance from them.
“For instance, the copperhead has a bold peach color and its pattern from the side looks like a Hershey’s kiss,” Monday said. “From the top, it’s an hourglass shape, but that view puts you too close for comfort. Instead, by knowing these two characteristics together, you’ll be able to spot that species and stay away. Each species I cover will have a group of characteristics that are pretty easy to remember.”
Monday will also share more resources, including information on general herpetology and what to do in the event of a snakebite.
Arkansas Game and Fish said it’s illegal to kill snakes in Arkansas unless they pose an immediate threat to people, pets or property.
According to the commission, most snakebites are the result of people accidentally stepping on an unseen snake, purposefully agitating or trying to kill it.
“It’s just a good idea to know which ones are harmful and let them have their space,” Monday said. “Aside from the legal issue, getting close enough to kill or move the snake puts you in danger. In cases where the snake may be near a home or where it could cause a threat to people, you can call someone who is trained to handle and relocate these animals safely and humanely.”
Find more information about the workshop on the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center Facebook event page or register for the event on Zoom .