Around the world, increased vehicular traffic on roads is causing issues for wildlife. In the USA alone, 250 million cars and trucks traveling on roads kill unknown millions of animals a year. In 2010, the number of cars on the world’s roads surpassed one billion. This sheer number of vehicles on roads impact the structure of ecosystems, the dynamics of ecosystem function, and has direct effects on ecosystem components, including their species composition. As a result snake populations are increasingly threatened by vehicular traffic.
Why do snakes get run over by cars?
1. Snakes need heat and roads are warm.
Snakes are ectotherms or “cold-blooded”, meaning they are dependent on external temperatures to regulate their body heat. Roads are generally exposed to the sun and quickly heat up in the early morning and retain that heat far into the night. Unfortunately, this ends in disaster as many snakes are run over by vehicles as they attempt to heat themselves.
2. Snakes use roads too!
Snakes are forced to cross roads because roads divide forests, wetlands and all other habitats that snakes call home. As a snake is crossing the road, be it day or night, they are often struck by oncoming traffic. Also, concrete roads may help cars go fast, but new research finds they slow down snakes!
How can you help snakes on roads?
Brake For Snakes! While driving make sure to be alert and always watch for wildlife. If you see a snake on the road, slow down and allow the snake to cross the road. As you slow down, make sure to put on your emergency lights.
Snake not moving? It is possible it may be dead or is unwilling to move. When it is safe to do so, pull over and use a long stick to gently tap the snake’s tail. This will prompt it to move across the road. Never use your hands to touch or pick up a snake you find on the road.
Tell other drives to Brake For Snakes:
Snake Road Mortality Survey & Awareness Program
In recent years, there has been an unprecedented rise in snake road kills due to increased vehicular traffic in South India. Save The Snakes Founding Partner, the Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society, has been documenting dead snakes run over by vehicles almost every day across the Eastern Ghats. Therefore, there is an urgent need to address these threats through appropriate site-specific interventions and generate awareness among all identified stakeholders, including the communities in the Eastern Ghats and travelers driving through.
The EGWS documents snake road kills and we have initiated an awareness campaign to encourage drivers to slow down and watch for wildlife.