ASU Researchers Study Snake Phenomenon

July 26, 2005 – Posted at 2:15 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- There's nothing that strikes fear in one's heart faster then crossing paths with a snake. Imagine having more than 50 venomous copperheads call your backyard home. It's happening at a farm in Northwest Arkansas in Marion County, but it's got researchers here in Region 8 slithering with excitement.
“Sure enough, around 9:00 o'clock in the evening, you can go out in his yard with a flashlight in this small area, and you can find Copperheads just cruising through the habitat,” said ASU graduate student Bobby Neal.
Researchers at Arkansas State University are trying to figure out what's drawing Copperheads out on a nightly adventure.
“What's interesting about it is around 10:00, you can't find any of them. It's like they shut off and once they shut off, they're gone,” said Neal.
“By the snakes following one another to this one particular site, there's something else going on. We just really don't know about it yet,” said Professor of Zoology Dr. Stan Trauth.
They plan to implant a radio transmitter into the captured snakes to study their habits.
“It could be anything from feeding aggregation. Some people might think its summer aestivation, but frankly we just don't know,” said Neal.
 While running into a Copperhead unexpectedly can make your heart pound; it's not that uncommon in Region 8.
“We have lots of fields of grain and animals that feed on the grain,” said Dr. Trauth, “When you have lots of small mammals, you're going to have lots of pit vipers.”
The Copperhead is one of six venomous snakes found in the state of Arkansas, while his bite won't kill you, it's not exactly a party either.
“You can be sick in the hospital for a few days, and there is a lot swelling around the bite. It’s kind of like a spider bite, but worse,” said Dr. Trauth.
“Well, as long as you don't step on them and keep your fingers out of their mouths, you're alright,” laughed Neal.
It’s probably good advice to follow.