Missouri is home to 43 species of snakes, 25 of those species have been documented on Fort Leonard Wood

Missouri is home to 43 species of snakes, and 25 of those species have been documented on Fort Leonard Wood. The species found on Fort Leonard Wood range in length from the eight-foot-long bullsnake and the eight-inch log flathead snake. All species of snake are unique in their own way, and for the most part, they are nonvenomous. However, many may bite in self-defense. Furthermore, some venomous snakes can inject a toxin with their hollow fangs. Snakes found on Fort Leonard Wood are the northern cottonmouth, also known as a water moccasin, and the eastern copperhead. Jeff Pebworth, a Directorate of Public Works wildlife biologist, says there has also been one sighting of a timer rattlesnake, although that is scarce in the area. Copperheads are reclusive, non-aggressive, and secretive, but hide in sheltered areas and have unique hourglass patterns on their bodies. They are very common around rocky wooded remote areas. Cottonmouths have a distinctive white line across their face and swim high on the surface of the water, unlike nonvenomous water snakes. They, of course, are common around streams such as the Big Piney River and the Roubidoux Creek. Snakes are also dependent on the sun to maintain optimal body temperature, meaning they can be found on warm rocks or anywhere sunlight is directly hitting the surface. Pebworth recommends that caution and respect are shown toward these snakes. Make sure not to panic, but try to give them their space. Harassing them or trying to kill them only causes accidents. If one is bitten, try to identify the species safely. If nonvenomous, treat the wound with topical antibacterial as needed. If venomous, seek medical attention. Two telltale fang holes will be present. For more information, visit the Missouri Department of Conservation website. The MDC has field guides available for all ticks, spiders, and snakes found in Missouri.