Venomous snakes to avoid this season

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB)-- As you head out for your afternoon hike, you'll need your eyes and ears alert for wildlife.

As the weather warms, more animals make their way out as well, including snakes.

The cottonmouth, coral snake, copperhead, pygmy rattlesnake, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, and timber rattlesnake are all venomous species of snake that live in Gainesville.

According to Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Florida, Steve Johnson, with the warmer weather, these snakes will be more present as they search for food and their mate.

"Their activity is really largely dictated by temperature, so with it getting warm snakes are going to be active. wear close-toed shoes when you're hiking, avoid thick brush if you're really worried about snakes, hike with someone else if you're worried about it, keep your cell phone with you,” he said.

And while it is rather unlikely that you would get bitten if you do Johnson said to seek medical help right away.

"You don't even want to worry about symptoms and wait for them to develop if you think you've been bitten, you cal 911 and you get immediate medical care,” he said.

According to Doctor Coleman Sheehy at the Florida Museum of Natural History, the safest thing to do would be to leave the animal alone.

"Don't try to kill it, don't try to catch it. You're putting yourself at much higher risk of getting bitten, especially if you don't know what it is,” Sheehy said.

He also said snakes are an important part of Florida's eco-system and urges people not to kill them.

"They're important as predators and they're also important as prey so lots of things eat snakes and snakes eat lots of things, and a lot of the things snakes eat, we would consider pests. Things around our houses like rats, or mice or sometimes insects that get into the house, there are a lot of species of snakes that are native to Florida that eat those things,” he added.

Among snakes, alligators, and bears are also more active during this time.