Updated 12:50 PM EDT, Wed, Sep 22, 2021

Snakes Killed by Mysterious Fungus! 'We Have No Control Over It', Biologist Says

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A mysterious fungus has been identified in Vermont, where timber rattlesnakes are slowly being wiped out in the eastern part of the United States.

The fungus, which has been identified in nine easter snakes, has been especially threatening to rattlesnakes, such as those in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachussetts, and New York according to The Ledger.

Timber rattlesnakes in Vermont were estimated to have a total population of several hundred and limited to two locations near Lake Champlain.

However, it is even more threatening in Illinois, as it threatens the eastern massasauga rattlesnake - already a candidate for the federal endangered species list even before the appearance of the said fungus.

The Associated Press reported that the fungus is already killing 80 to 90 percent of the species' already scant 300 or so population in four countries.

The deadly disease causes crusty scabs and lesions on the snakes, and, sometimes, even on the head.

Last year, the same fungal disease made waves when a female mud snake was found in Georgia to have cloudy eyes and patches of thickened scales.

Live Science reported that dark-gray material also covered the inside of the snake's mouth and the skin on her face has already peeled away to reveal an red scabs.

Biologists have compared the appearance of the mysterious fungus to the one that causes white nose syndrome in bats, killing millions of creatures in North America since 2006.

However, it is still unclear whether or not the snake fungus, called "ophidiomyces ophiodiicola," was brought to the United States.

ABC News reported that Doug Blodgett, a biologist who has been studying the rattlesnake population of Vermont for the last 15 years, said, "I think potentially this could overwhelm any conservation effort we could employ to try to protect this last remaining population. We don't have any control over it. It's just completely out there in the wild."

Microbiologist Jeffrey Lorch, from the US Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin said that he's been getting reports of the fungus affecting snakes all over the eastern part of the country.

"It does seem to be a disease that has different effects in different areas."

Little is known about the disease.

However, experts say that the fungus posed a greater risk to snakes that are known to reproduce slowly, like the rattlesnakes found in Vermont.

Without greater understanding of the disease or a cure to help fight it, this mysterious type of fungus may be able to wipe out several snake species in the eastern United States.

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