Venomous snakes are among the most feared animals in the world, and they may start slithering into new places.

Yanez-Arenas: “So as our climate changes, so too will the potential for a species to expand their ranges and come in contact with people they never will have before.”

Carlos Yanez-Arenas is a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In 2015, while a post-doc at the University of Kansas, he used climate models to predict where dozens of species of snakes will be able to live by 2050.

He found that with warmer temperatures, many snakes, such as copperheads and some species of rattlesnake, will be able to survive farther north than in the past. How far the snakes move will depend on how much the climate warms.

For example, if carbon emissions are limited and warming is minimal, the copperhead could become more common in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and parts of Illinois.*

But if emissions are not reduced and warming continues unchecked, the venomous copperhead could grow more common in Michigan, New York, and parts of New England.*

More snakes could mean more snake bites – that’s bad news for people who enjoy spending time outdoors.

Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.

*Editor’s note: These sentences were updated on 9/18/2017 to reflect the fact that the copperhead is already present in these regions.

Eileen Mignoni

Eileen Mignoni

Eileen Mignoni is a South Florida-based visual journalist who has been working on stories about science, the environment, and energy for nearly 10 years. In addition to her work at Yale Climate Connections,...