Do Snakes Chase People?

Often, it happens without warning: you are wandering through the woods, minding your own business, when you come upon a snake. Spooked, you might begin to flee, only to look back and realize that the snake is chasing you, causing you to be more afraid of a venomous bite. However, when dealing with snakes, the myth that snakes will chase you is mostly untrue, and simply boils down to the adage ‘they’re more afraid of you than you are of them.’

Most times, when people talk about how they were chased by a snake, it is simply a half-truth that has been blown out of proportion by a scared hiker that happened to come upon a sleeping or unaware snake hanging out in the woods. Generally, when someone comes upon a snake in the wild, both snake and human are caught off-guard, which leads to an automatic panic reaction: the human worries that the snake might be venomous and may decide to attack, so the flight response is taken; often, a snake will often have a similar reaction, causing it to choose a fast escape route and flee. The problem arises when both snake and human pick similar routes, causing the snake to slither in a similar path to the frightened human, giving the illusion to the person that they are being pursued.

While this myth is only a half-truth, there are a few instances where it is, in fact, true. There are some species of snakes that will ‘chase’ a human, such as the bushmaster snake in Central America, which is an enormous serpent, that will actively chase humans who it thinks are threatening it- which could mean anything from actively coming after it, to harmlessly coming upon it. However, most of these snakes will be known by local tourism departments, and hikers will often be warned well ahead of time of any hyper-aggressive snake breeds that are common in the area.

Many snakes may seem to be hyper-aggressive when chasing away intruders, however, many simply defend themselves with hissing, or other forms of defense- such as rattlesnakes rattling their tails when humans get too close- as opposed to ‘chasing’ these interlopers off. However, many of these hyper-aggressive forms of defense, such as striking, lunging, or hissing, may also be taken by scared hikers as the snake ‘chasing them’.

While there are generally not issues with snakes chasing humans, you should always approach a snake with caution. If you come upon a snake while hiking or camping, you should give it a wide berth, as well as not be scared: most snakes are non-venomous and will just be trying to get away. However, if you do happen to get bitten, you should always seek a medical professional as quickly as possible.

Read the How to get rid of snakes page for helpful information and to learn more about Do Snakes Chase People?

Do Snakes Chase People?

© 2018 - Wildlife Control Education