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Short-tailed snake. Photo by FWC.

Snake fungal disease

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Greetings and welcome to the Southern Appalachian Creature Feature.

Many people have heard about white-nose syndrome, the fungal disease responsible for killing more than a million bats in the eastern United States that has left biologists, researchers, and land managers scrambling to halt its spread and reverse the damage done – an effort still very much under way, and far, far from completion.

While perhaps the most well-known wildlife disease, it certainly isn’t the only disease issue facing our animals. The simply-named snake fungal disease is emerging in eastern and midwestern states, including western North Carolina.

Signs of snake fungal disease included scabs or crusty scales, nodules below the skin, abnormal molting, white opaque cloudiness of the eyes not associated with molting, and localized thickening or crusting of the skin.

The disease has been known to kill snakes, though, population-level impacts of the disease aren’t yet known. In areas where rare snake species occur in small, isolated populations, the added threat of SFD may threaten the long-term existence of these populations. Wild snakes are valuable because they consume pests that damage crops, prey on rodents that carry disease, and serve as food for many predatory animals.

As its name implies, snake fungal disease is only known to afflict snakes.

For WNCW and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this is Gary Peeples.

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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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