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Snakes are some of the most beautiful and misunderstood animals in nature, but they are so very important to the natural environment. Snakes are found throughout the world; existing on every continent except Antarctica, and throughout the world, they are (sometimes loved) but often feared by humans. Because of misconceptions, often taught to them as young children, people oftentimes choose to harm snakes instead of letting them live. But why is this?

Snakes: Predators or Prey?

It is very true that some snakes are a threat to humans; some are venomous, and some are defensive and may in fact bite to try and save themselves. (You would probably do the same thing if suddenly a strange, stomping giant approached you with unknown intent.) But it is also true that snakes are a huge benefit to have around. Snakes are predators, and primarily eat rodents, and other warm-blooded animals as part of their diet. And though rodents have a place in nature as well, too many rodents can have a very negative impact on the health of others around them (even us humans.) We absolutely need predators, such as snakes, in the food chain to keep those populations of rodents, and other potentially harmful pest animals, in check for us.

But if it is true that the benefits of sharing our spaces with snakes outweigh the risks, why are some people still so fearful of them? Is it because they are so different from us—because they don’t have limbs, or because they have smooth, scaly skin? Is it the way they move & slither? Or is it because we have been taught to fear them, instead of to admire and respect them? Equally dangerous, if not even more dangerous animals, such as wolves, lions, chimpanzees, elephants, bears, and so forth, are almost universally beloved by humans, even though most of us know they are very dangerous. Snakes have far more prejudices against them, unfortunately. It just doesn’t seem fair.

Respecting vs. Fearing

Maybe we should think about that; why are there animals that are more beloved by humans than others? Is it right that animals who aren’t as popular are often harmed based on the opinions of us humans? How many other animals are we affecting due to misconceptions about them? The fact is, if you leave wild animals alone, including snakes, and other misunderstood creatures, they will often give you the same respect you give them. And it is not the animals’ fault that we are sharing space with them; they were after all, here long before us. What if the world viewed snakes as the heroes they are, instead of the villains we have turned them into?

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