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UC Davis Researchers Warning Of Invasive Water Snakes

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A southern watersnake, which commonly eats mole salamanders, a group that includes two endangered species in California. The non-native snakes are invading California waters, posing a threat to native fish, amphibians and reptiles. (Source: J.D. Willson/University of Arkansas)

A southern watersnake, which commonly eats mole salamanders, a group that includes two endangered species in California. The non-native snakes are invading California waters, posing a threat to native fish, amphibians and reptiles. (Source: J.D. Willson/University of Arkansas)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Researchers at UC Davis are warning of an invasion of water snakes, threatening to put a strain on California’s native and endangered species.

About 300 water snakes have been found in the Roseville and Folsom areas recently, according to a new study from UC Davis. Another 150 snakes were found in Long Beach.

The snakes – which are said to be nonvenomous – are suspected to have been introduced into the wild by people looking to set their pet snakes free, researchers believe.

While there is cause for alarm, researchers say the problem can be stopped with quick action.

“The issue is not yet out of control,” said Jonathan Rose, lead author of the study, in a release. “However, we recommend that action be taken now to control emergent populations of these nonnative snakes while they remain somewhat restricted in California. Waiting until they become entrenched could cost more ecologically and economically.”

The study was pushed Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Three species, including two that are endangered, were identified in the study as being threatened by the snakes’ expansion: the giant garter snake, the California tiger salamander and the foothill yellow-legged frog. The frog, while not classified as threatened, is labeled as a species of special concern.

Two water snake species are causing concern: the common water snake and the southern water snake.

Concerned citizens can report possible water snake sightings by emailing californiawatersnakes@gmail.com.

 

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