|Great Plains Rat Snake, Courtesy MDC|
Snakes are much maligned creatures. They don't deserve their reputations and they truly are more afraid of you than you are of them. There are 46 species or subspecies of snakes in Missouri and only 5 are poisonous. Only one snake, the Copperhead is commonly encountered. Few people in Missouri ever get bitten by a venomous snake and more people die of lightning strikes each year than die of snake bite. I've heard that most people get bit by snakes because they do something stupid, like grab the snake.
For the most part if you watch where you walk and place your hands you'll never have a problem with snakes. Snakes will try and get away from you if they can rather than bite. They only bite when they have no other choice. Snakes are actually beneficial in that they help control rodent populations. If you encounter a non-venomous snake use a long handled tool such as a hoe or shovel to carry them to an isolated and safe habitat to be released.