Whenever I visit classrooms to do presentations, or are out at Nature Nights, with live animals, you will most likely hear something to the tune of “I don’t like snakes,” “snakes are gross” There is no way I can convince someone who is terrified of snakes not to be, but perhaps a discussion of their benefits will deter a few would-be killers of these wonderful and efficient predators.
Before we talk about snakes lets first take a look at mice, and mouse reproduction. Start with 2 baby mice, one of each sex. At 6 weeks old the female can become pregnant. Gestation is 3 weeks, and under optimal conditions the female can become pregnant again immediately after giving birth. Assume a litter of eight, four male and four female, which are paired and bred when they are 6 weeks old. By the end of 52 weeks you could have 131258 mice. That’s over 100,000 mice a year!! And that just started with 2 mice.[
Mice are one of the main food sources for snakes. When rodent populations serge, the animals can destroy crops at an alarming rate, effecting supplies of food and industries. They can also spread many harmful diseases. A single snake that averages a life of 15 years can eat around 3400 mice in its lifetime. That really does help the rodent population.
Snakes are absolutely paramount to the health of many ecosystems, the environment and to biodiversity. They are extremely valuable components to the ecological communities in which they live; playing several complex roles, including that of predators and prey. This means that without snakes some animals like owls, hawks, badgers, otters, and many other animals would lose out on a valuable source of food.
Snakes are also helping to save the lives of millions of people every year, as the venom from certain snakes is being used to treat many serious health ailments like cancers, heart disease, Parkinsons, alzheimer’s, and many more.