BE ALERT: Poisonous snakes in the Iwakuni area
There are only two poisonous snakes in the Iwakuni area which will be active over the summer months. They are the Mamushi and the Yamakagashi. Luckily for us, both of them are very inoffensive creatures who would much rather run and hide than bite you. Even better than this is the fact that even if they do bite you, they have what are called “rear facing fangs” so it is unlikely that they would be able to inject venom into an adult even if they do bite. We are just too big for them to get there fangs into.
The biggest thing to be concerned about with both of these snakes is that while they would most likely not be able to inject any venom into an adult human being, they would certainly be able to do so if they were to bite a small child. Therefore it is important to keep an eye on your children and make sure they are safe.
If you do happen to see one of these animals on base the most important thing is to leave it alone! Do not try to capture or bother them. Just give them a wide berth and immediately call PMO, who will dispatch an animal control officer with specialized training to come and collect the creature.
In the unfortunate event that you are bitten by one of these animals, the most important thing to do is remain calm and either come in to the clinic or call for an ambulance. The venom of both these snakes is very slow acting, so you are not in any immediate danger after you are bitten and anti-venom for both of these snakes is available.
In conclusion I would just like to state again that these are very inoffensive creatures. The only recorded instances where someone has been bitten by one of them are where people have tried to pick them up and handle them. All they want is to enjoy some sunshine, and maybe eat a tasty frog or two. As long as you leave them in peace they will most certainly extend you the same courtesy.
The Yamakagashi is a thin snake which varies in length from about 2 to 4 feet, with the average being around 2 ½ feet. Its back has black dots, separated by yellowish brown bands which are spotted with red patterns. It has a thin neck and a triangular shaped head. They tend to inhabit flatlands and low hills around rice paddies, lakes, and marshes. An added area of concern with the Yamakagashi is the fact that they have specialized glands in their neck which secrete a poisonous substance that can cause blindness if you come into contact with it.
The Mamushi is the smaller of the two snakes. It varies in length from 1 to 2 feet and its main characteristics are a triangle shaped head with a narrow neck and flared jaw. Unlike some other poisonous snakes, the Mamushi is not particularly colorful. Generally they are either grayish brown or dark brown black with pairs of blackish brown dots going down both sides. They can be found in damp forested terrain, bamboo thickets, and even dry riverbeds. The Mamushi also tends to be very slow to react to things so it may not move right away if you approach it.
If you have any further questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact the Preventive Medicine Department located in the Branch Health Clinic at 253-5236.