When do snakes get aggressive?
Snakes that are startled and threatened will react defensively – and it will usually be obvious! Rattlesnakes are renowned for announcing their displeasure with their telltale rattle. Other species will raise their heads and face you, perhaps hiss and in the case of cobras, raise their hoods. This is a clear signal that the snake is warning you to “Back off!” and it is always advisable to heed this warning.
Taking a few simple precautions can help you avoid disturbing a snake and possibly putting it on the defensive. First, again, never provoke a snake by doing things such as throwing rocks at it – this is a common cause of many snake bites in the United States and reflects human stupidity with regards to snakes. Surely, nobody would throw rocks at a lion or a grizzly bear? Why at a snake then? Secondly, don’t try to be hero and attempt to capture a snake unless you are an experienced herpetologist. Thirdly, if you are out walking in an area known to have snakes, be aware of your surroundings and the ground you are walking on, especially if it is thick with undergrowth. Don’t lift any large stones or fallen tree trunks unless you really have to and do so with extreme caution. Take care about where you are treading and if you are unsure, go very slowly. If you are out at night in such an are, a torch is crucial – remember, many snakes are nocturnal hunters. Finally, remember to wear protective footgear when walking through snake-infested areas.