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Ever heard of a snake orgy? One is taking place in Lakeland

The incident lead the City of Lakeland to temporarily shut down a park.
A Burmese python moves through the grass during a demonstration by the Florida Fish and Conservation Commission for the news media to promote the Python Challenge in 2015. Florida is hiring more python hunters and expanding the area where they can stalk the invasive snakes. [Associated Press]

Valentine’s Day might be over but the animal kingdom must not have gotten the memo.

The city of Lakeland closed off a section of ground near Lake Hollingsworth after receiving reports that numerous snakes had swarmed the area.

“It appears they have congregated for mating ... as they seem to do yearly,” the city’s Parks & Recreation department wrote Thursday on Facebook.

That’s not as unusual as you might think. Narcisse, Manitoba in Canada is known for its annual orgy of red-sided garter snakes, when tens of thousands of wriggling reptiles emerge from their dens and, er, enjoy each other’s company for as long as 10 days each spring.

Although the Lakeland slithery creatures aren’t garter snakes, “They are non-venomous and generally not aggressive as long as people do not disturb them,” according to the city’s Facebook post.

Regarding snakes spotted on Lake Hollingsworth near the roundabout: Our Parks Division was able to receive assistance...

Posted by City of Lakeland Parks & Recreation on Thursday, February 13, 2020

Officials confirmed that they appeared to be water snakes, which Florida Museum of Natural History experts say mate from mid-winter to spring.

One resident, however, indicated he had seen water moccasins in that same location.

“While we cannot rule out the presence of other species being in that location or other locations around the lake we believe the water snakes have congregated in that area,” the post continued.

Not being able to identify the snakes could be dangerous. Although the city put up caution tape and plans to hang signs, that might not be enough.

Unlike the water snake, moccasins are a venomous species. Their bites can cause severe pain, swelling and even death without proper medical treatment, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Knowing how to tell the two apart can be the difference between life and death. Although their similarity in color and size might make it difficult to distinguish the species, paying attention to the eyes and behavior could prove useful.

According to the FWC, water snakes have round, bug eyes while moccasins have more elliptical, oval-shaped eyes. Water snakes are also more inclined to retreat into the water if encountered. Moccasins, on the other hand, will usually stay put and flash their fangs.

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