Serpent warning: Shrinking green areas, large-scale construction blamed for recent snake activity in Armenia

Environmentalists say that the frequent appearance of snakes since early May in different residential areas of Armenia, including in Yerevan, is caused by the large-scale construction works and tree logging.

The Ministry of Health of Armenia reports that during the first quarter of 2012, 64 cases of snakebites were registered in Armenia, in 37 of them got antidote injections.

Snakes are most frequently met in the Kotayk, Aragatsotn, Ararat and Tavush provinces, and the most recent case of residents encountering reptiles in capital Yerevan was on Thursday, in the southern Ajapnyak and Davidashen districts of the city. The residents turned to the operative group of the Crisis Management Center at the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Armenia, and the members of the group managed to move the snakes to a safe area.

Chief toxicologist of Armenia Michael Gabrielyan says that all medical institutions of Armenia are provided with antidotes, and the medical personnel have all the corresponding preparedness and potential to provide medical care of high quality.

Karen Martirosyan, head of the aquaterrarium of the Yerevan National Park, chairman of the Exotarium Company, says that 23 types of snakes are met in the territory of Armenia, four of which are venomous snakes. He says that snake activity is common in spring, which is conditioned by the period of their pairing.

Environmentalist Silva Adamyan, head of the Bird Lovers’ Center NGO, told ArmeniaNow that the number of snakes has increased during the recent years especially in Yerevan, because “the green area in Yerevan, created during the Soviet period, has gradually shrunk and is being replaced by asphalt-concrete, high-rise buildings, turning the capital city into a semi-desert, the main residents of which are scorpions and snakes.”

“Generally, the natural environment throughout the whole world is being changed, and in Armenia, which has few forests, and the existing ones are being logged, and the uncultivated lands cannot feed snakes anymore, they search for food near residential areas,” Adamyan says.

Even though some biologists, taking into consideration the recent earthquakes in the region, link the activation of snakes with increased seismic activity Adamyan discards the assumption.

“Snakes are very sensitive, and when the earth’s interior is active, snakes start migrating from that area, however, now there are no movements of their population,” Adamyan concludes.