With warm temperatures you have snakes making more appearances in yards, brush, and hiking areas. Teaching kids about venomous snakes is important not only for their safety, but also for the safety of the snakes. Many people kill snakes needlessly out of fear. Not all snakes are venomous, and many are great assets to our lives. Snakes help get rid of other vermin like rats, mice, and creatures that can cause more damage in and around your home. Knowing the difference between venomous and non venomous snakes can save not only your kids lives, but a valuable snake’s life.
Teaching Kids About Venomous Snakes
Teach common characteristics. The first thing to do is understand what venomous snakes often look like. There are a handful of visual characteristics to make sure your children are aware of when they spot snakes in your yard or when out for a walk.
- Triangular Head Shape
- Vertical Slit Eyes
- Brightly colored scales in ring patterns (coral snakes)
- A venomous snake swims with their whole body in movement (water moccasins)
Teach your children to listen for the rattle. Rattlesnakes are a common venomous snake in the United States. While the color may vary, their sound does not. Some snakes will try to move their body to simulate a rattle sound against leaves or brush, but there is no mistaking the visible movement of the very end of a rattlesnake tale and it’s sound. If it sounds like a rattle, it should be avoided.
Teach them how to handle a situation where a snake is present. No matter what you believe a snake to be, you need to be careful and watch for snakes. Even non venomous snakes can bite. While they may not be fatal wounds, they will be bothersome and should be treated. Your children should know to watch not only for snakes, but what to do if they come across them.
- Stop and let the snake pass. A lot of times a snake is simply moving across the yard, trail, or area you are in. Instead of trying to walk around it if in tight quarters, stop and wait until the snake moves on. Usually if you are not posing a threat to them, they will simply go on their way.
- Choose an alternate route. If you see a snake in the area, simply go around it. There is no need to approach and remove the snake, unless you are sure it could be venomous. In that case an adult with proper tools should handle it. Children should be taught to go another direction.
- Don’t make sudden movements. If you stumble upon a snake and are caught in tight quarters with it, don’t make sudden movements. Stop, wait, and be patient until the snake moves on. If an adult is nearby, quietly alert them to the presence of a snake and wait for help.
While the visual rules are common, there are snakes that will not fall into the category of being venomous. Teaching kids about venomous snakes is about basic safety. You can look into information in your local area about snakes that may be prevalent. There are a multitude of books on recognizing snakes that you can pick up and go over with your children so they can see a better look at what may be venomous. Familiarize your kids with non venomous snakes as well. A trip to the zoo, an aquarium, pet store or reptile house can also be beneficial in teaching hands on recognition regarding snakes.