Researchers looking for rare snake in Tennessee - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Researchers looking for rare snake in Tennessee

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A pygmy rattlesnake, Sistrurus miliaris. CDC photo A pygmy rattlesnake, Sistrurus miliaris. CDC photo
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

As it begins to warm up outside and snakes slither into the sun, some biologists in the state are on the lookout for a very specific kind of snake.

The snake they’re searching for is the Pygmy rattlesnake.  It’s native to Tennessee but is extremely rare and not much is known about it.

“Pygmy rattlesnakes are pretty short. They're maybe going to get a couple of feet long at best and they're going to have kind of a grayish color and a little bit of red.  A Very pretty animal,” said David Hedrick, the lead ectotherm keeper at the Chattanooga Zoo.        .
They’re also considered threatened species.

The TWRA and biologists at Tennessee State University want to learn more about these snakes which are important to our ecosystem and to us.

"They're important because they control pest populations and they keep rodents from overpopulating and they keep those tick numbers down and prevent the spread of disease that can directly affect us pretty harshly,” Hedrick told Channel 3.

Hedrick says a single snake can take out one thousand to two thousand ticks a year. “They eat lots of rodents and a big threat we have coming down this year, it's supposed to be a really bad year for Lyme disease and so these rodents they consume, they carry a lot of ticks,” said Hedrick.

According to the CDC, Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through tick bites.

Researchers are asking people to take a picture of the snake if they see it and document their location.  Experts say Tennesseans would have a better chance of spotting the Pygmy rattlesnake in the central or western parts of the state.

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