Back when Advocates for Snake Preservation was going by the name Social Snakes, we (Jeff and Melissa) were lucky enough to live on a nature preserve, surrounded by snakes. Circumstances changed, we moved back to the city (Tucson, Arizona), but never forgot how amazing it was to live with snakes. Well it took us a couple years, but we finally found a new home in nature, just outside Silver City, New Mexico.

That’s one of our new neighbors, a Madrean alligator lizard, pictured at the top of this page.

How will this change ASP’s work?

For the most part, it won’t. Most of our campaigns focus on national issues and not all of our regional/local campaigns were in Arizona. We’ll now mainly participate in events and give presentations in southern New Mexico, which will enable us to reach a new audience with our message.

To introduce ourselves to our new neighbors, we appeared on the local radio show, Earth Matters, in November. And we quickly responded to a horrible article in the Albuquerque Journal with this letter:

LTE

Image by Joseph E Newman.

As a wildlife biologist and lifelong advocate for snakes and other misunderstood animals, I was dismayed to see “Don’t look now, but that creepy, crawly thing may be lethal” in the Journal. This article was rife with myths and misinformation and serves no purpose than to stoke fear and hatred of already persecuted and misunderstood animals.

In the United States, fewer than seven people die annually from spider bites and scorpion stings and fewer than five from snake bites (CDC: 1999-2016). In New Mexico there were NO recorded deaths from spiders, snakes, or scorpions during those same years.

Rattlesnakes view us as predators, not prey, so they do not attack or chase people. Snakes cannot strike more than their own body length (usually less than three feet) nor jump nor leap at all. They just want us to leave them alone. Once you are aware that a snake is nearby, keeping at least five feet away will essentially guarantee your safety.

Our only native coralsnake is the tiny, shy Sonoran coralsnake, rarely exceeding two feet in length with a pencil-sized girth. Although they are venomous and should not be handled, bites are extremely rare and there are no deaths attributed this species. If you encounter one in the extreme southwest part of the state where they occur, enjoy the rare sighting of one of our most beautiful snakes.

The vast majority of snake bites happens when people handle, approach, or try to kill the snake. Respect snakes, keep your distance, and watch where you put your hands and feet — this would prevent virtually all snake bites. By exaggerating the danger of these animals, you will only encourage people to try to kill them, which increases the chance of a bite.

Our native wildlife attracts visitors from all over the world. Let’s celebrate and enjoy these animals (from a safe distance), not spread fear and hatred.

So you are not likely to notice a difference, but if you have questions or concerns about the move, feel free to reach out.