FGCU researchers help create app to identify poisonous snakes



Researchers at Florida Gulf Coast University have collaborated with scientists around the world to create an app that can help you quickly identify different species of snakes and determine whether or not they are poisonous.

Doctors and people who have been bitten by snakes will be able to tell within minutes, if not seconds, how dangerous that bite could be.

A man takes a picture of a snake with his phone. 1 credit

Dr. Andrew Durso, Assistant Professor of Wildlife Biology at FGCU, has been working with a team of researchers from the University of Switzerland and the World Health Organization for four years to create this app. Every year, half a million people around the world are bitten by poisonous snakes. Durso hopes this app can help people, especially in a snake-rich place like Florida.

“You can expect to be able to send a photograph of a snake from anywhere on Earth and get, within seconds, a prediction from the computer vision algorithm, as well as – ideally, within minutes – maybe as long as an hour or something – verification, or not, by a human,” Durso said. “Of course, the computer isn’t perfect, is it? He makes mistakes sometimes, and in serious situations where identity is really important, you want to keep that human in the know.

A rattlesnake in a plastic container. 1 credit

WHO’s plan is to halve the number of deaths and disabilities caused by poisonous snakebites. Durso says he hopes this app can help people stay safe.

“It’s perfectly fine to use it to identify the snakes you see and I think the more we learn about snakes, in general, the more comfortable people can feel about making good decisions when they see a snake in their yard or neighborhood,” Durso said.

The application is not yet available for download on your phone, but there is a site for that.


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