Fungal disease affects snakes in 19 states and Puerto Rico

The timber rattlesnake is one of a number of species that can be infected by the snake fungal disease.
Credit: L. Brian Stauffer

A new large-scale snake survey has found that a deadly fungal disease has spread through 19 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. The snake fungal disease Ophidiomycosis is caused by the fungus Ophidiomyces ophidiicola, and was first confirmed a timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) in 2006 in New Hampshire. Researchers, including TWS member Matthew Allender, examined 657 snakes to find that 17% were infected, representing some 25 species, including copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix), eastern diamondback rattlesnakes (Agkistrodon contortrix), Puerto Rican boas (Chilabothrus inornatus and sidewinders (Crotalus cerastes). They also found that adults were more likely to become infected than younger reptiles. “Ophidiomycosis has potentially serious consequences for the success of snake conservation efforts in North America, threatening biodiversity across several habitats,” Allender said in a press release.

Read the study at PLOS ONE.