A lot of the baby snake-themed Christmas decorations at Target and Walmart stores are meant to mimic the look of baby copperhead frogs.
But the decor may also be designed to terrify your kids, who are terrified of snakes.
The decor has been around for decades, and Walmart and Walmart-owned Target stores in Indiana and Illinois have seen a spike in the number of customers asking for copperheads to decorate their cars.
But these snakes aren’t cute, and they’re a no-no for preschoolers, according to experts.
The little snakes are poisonous to adults, and if your kids aren’t allowed to get close enough to touch them, they could suffocate.
“If the kids don’t touch the snake, they’ll probably get a lot of poison,” says Dr. Mary Crouch, a wildlife veterinarian at Indiana University.
“It’s very dangerous.”
What You Need to Know Before Buying Copperheads The snakes are most commonly found in southern Indiana and northeastern Illinois, where the warmer weather helps to drive their populations up.
But there are other areas where the snakes are also plentiful.
Indiana has been experiencing its warmest winter in decades, so they’re now being sold at a more competitive price than ever before, according the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
“You’ve got a lot more of the snake on the market,” says Crouch.
“I mean, we’ve seen the prices go up about 40 percent in a matter of a couple of weeks.
I’m really glad to see that, because I think that means we’re getting more of these.”
What to Do If You See a Copperhead Snake At Target or Walmart, keep it at a distance.
“Don’t try to get the little snake on you or around you,” Crouch says.
“The big snake can get you, too.”
If you’re still not sure what to do if you find a snake, take a look at these tips: Use common sense when trying to identify them.
“We don’t want to be doing anything wrong, so don’t just assume that if you have a snake on your finger, that means that it’s a baby,” says Debbie Wier, a certified wildlife care specialist with Indiana University’s Center for Wildlife Health.
Wier recommends keeping it away from children and pets.
“When you’re dealing with a snake that you’re trying to scare away, make sure that you have enough space to hold your hand up, and make sure it’s just the size of your palm,” she says.
Keep an eye out for a red snake, a snake with a red tail, or a snake in the middle of its back.
If you see one of these, it’s likely a copperhead.
Wider caution: Don’t touch any snakes in the store, as they could become entangled.
“This is a very dangerous thing to do,” says Wier.
“A lot of these snakes will bite people.
That’s why it’s important that you don’t handle a snake if you can’t get away from it.”
When the snakes bite, take them to a veterinarian.
You can buy a “snake venom kit” online or at the pharmacy to make sure you’re not getting bitten by a venomous snake.
But it’s worth it, according Crouch: “I would do this for the life of me if I had to see it happen,” she said.
“And I think the people that have done it before are going to have a hard time doing it again.”
How to Protect Your Child and Family at Home: Avoid touching snakes.
“They can bite your hands and you could really be bitten,” says Darlene Ritter, a reptile expert at Indiana State University.
Keep children away from snakes and don’t let pets get close.
“Children should be the last people to touch a snake,” says Ritter.
“Parents shouldn’t be in the same room as their kids.
I don’t care if you’re a dad and a mom.
Don’t get them close enough.”
What To Do If a Copperheads Snake Strikes At You: Call 911.
“All we do is call 911,” says Fortunato.
“Call your local fire department if you see a snake and if you get bitten.”
“If you’re getting bitten, try to grab the snake and hold it, but try to keep it as small as possible,” Ritter says.
Ritter also recommends holding your child’s hand as close to your face as possible.
“Hold the snake by the tail, not the whole head, because they can bite through your skin,” she explains.
“Just keep your mouth open and don’ t bite.”
If your child or pets are in danger, they should try to calm down and go back to their car.
“That way, the snakes won’t be able to bite your child,” says Vail.
“Because of the way they’re being handled