Evaluating Current Attitudes towards Snakes in the Nicholas School of the Environment’s (NSOE) Environmental Master's Student Community

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Calderon-Arrieta, Diego

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Snake populations have been found to be on the decline both globally and in the United States. As these populations have continued to decline, particularly in the American Midwest, cropland and agricultural plots have begun to develop, which have become an inviting place for agricultural pests like insects and rodents. Rodents have been deemed one of the largest threats to global and national food security, and snakes can serve as a great natural pest control mechanism. However, people’s diverse attitudes and exaggerated concerns can be a great barrier to the acceptance of snakes protecting the welfare of humankind. Previous literature has documented factors shaping attitudes towards snakes among laypeople and undergraduate students. My research project will instead evaluate current attitudes towards snakes among the Nicholas School of the Environment (NSOE) master’s student community and explore methods that can be implemented to ameliorate anxieties about snakes. This is a community worth exploring, because these are future policymakers and conservation planners whose decisions will likely broadly impact populations of snakes, and it is important that they keep their attitudes towards snakes separate from what management recommendations they give about them. Using an online survey and ordered logistic regression models, I demonstrated that – compared to natural science-focused students – students not pursuing a natural-science focused concentration are less likely to indicate higher levels of positive attitudes towards snakes. The survey also indicates that there is high demand for seminars like learning how to handle snakes safely or general knowledge about them. Future researchers will have to measure these methods’ respective efficacies in reducing negative views towards snakes in this particular population. For the benefit of humankind and snakes alike, NSOE students should develop more conservation-driven views of snakes to protect snakes from unnecessary persecution and humans from snake-induced stress.





Calderon-Arrieta, Diego (2017). Evaluating Current Attitudes towards Snakes in the Nicholas School of the Environment’s (NSOE) Environmental Master's Student Community. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/14150.

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.