It seems like my social media feed has been full of snakes lately. Lots of my friends are posting pictures of snakes they've found while out hiking or even in their backyards around Billings. One friend recently stumbled upon a large rattlesnake while hiking on the Rims. Luckily she saw it before her and her dog got too close.

Why are most of us terrified by snakes?

Livescience explains that humans' fear of snakes is likely an evolutionary trait. Don't get bit by a deadly snake = living another day to reproduce. That makes sense. They took their study even deeper and found that while babies and toddlers do not seem to have a natural-born fear of snakes, children as young as three were able to quickly find snake images hidden in test pictures.

Thankfully, snake fatalities are rare in Montana.

We talked to Jeff the Nature Guy from ZooMontana and he explained that fatal snake encounters in Montana are actually extremely rare. Out of the 10 snake species in the state, only one is venomous and that is the prairie (or western) rattlesnake. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reports that out of the hundreds of thousands of people who enjoy our outdoors each year, there are usually only 5 - 6 reports of bites annually and that there has not been one death reported out of 45 bites in the past eight years. Jeff said that snake population numbers don't really vary much from year to year. It just seems like you are seeing a lot of the slithery creatures.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Only ten snakes are native.

The ten species of snakes you'll find in Montana (outside of a pet store) are:

  • Eastern Racer
  • Rubber Boa
  • Western Hog-nosed
  • Smooth Greensnake
  • Western Terrestrial Gartersnake
  • Plains Gartersnake
  • Common Gartersnake
  • Prairie Rattlesnake (also called Western Rattlesnake)
  • Milksnake
  • Gophersnake
Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Snake massage therapy? Hard pass.

While all of them may creep you out, remember only the rattlesnake is venomous. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says "the chances of being bitten by a rattlesnake in Montana are less than being struck by lightning," but you should still be cautious in snake country.

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Some of their common sense tips include: wearing stout leather boots that cover your ankles, not sticking your hands into snakey looking places, watching where you walk, keeping a clean campsite, traveling in groups of at least three people and if you happen to encounter a rattlesnake DO NOT try to kill it or poke it. Just go around. You can read their full list of tips HERE.

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