Snakes— even the scary ones— are vital to the health of our ecosystem, and even to human beings. Fleas and ticks carried by rats are frequent carriers for human diseases such as Lyme disease and even plague. An ecosystem full of snakes has fewer rats, meaning fewer ticks, meaning fewer human infections. Snakes are also a vital food source for raptors and foxes. If you see a venomous snake on your property in Tennessee, you are permitted to kill it only if it is posing a real threat to your safety (such as if it was found in your child’s bedroom and can’t be safely removed alive). A snake outdoors in the wild should simply be left alone.