River flooding affects wildlife like snakes, mice, turtles

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - When the Mississippi River floods it can do more than damage homes.

Experts at Memphis Zoo said rising water can have an impact on native wildlife, especially snakes.

"Flooding would affect the native habitat of the cottonmouth. So there may be some increased activity from those animals especially as it gets warmer," Matt Thompson of Memphis Zoo said.

Memphis Zoo officials said if you do run into a cottonmouth or any snake that could be displaced by this flooding, take two steps back because snakes can only strike at one-third of their body length.

While the rising water could cause cottonmouths to move closer to homes, the water could actually be a danger for animals like mice and turtles.

"Anything that can't go hundreds of yards in a short time frame, they are going to have a difficult time getting away from floodwaters," Alan Peterson of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said.

In 2011 flooding on President's Island caused about 40 percent of the deer population to die.

But it's not all bad news. Floods are natural processes that actually benefits other things.

"As some of these backwater areas flood, it actually creates some wildlife-rich areas that native birds really like," Thompson said. "Fish swim into those areas--it's really shallow--so they can do some fishing."

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