Five slender snakes slithered away recently after taking up residence in an umbrella in the backyard of a Victoria home.

“I have a stand for the umbrella, but with the least bit of wind, it blows over, so it spends a lot of time lying on the ground,” said Pat Tally.

Tally was thankful the snakes weren’t venomous. She’s had one other, scarier encounter with a snake at her son’s home on Lower Mission Valley Road years ago.

“I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to take a picture,’ but all of a sudden it started rattling, and I was like, ‘What the hell am I doing taking a picture?’” Tally said.

A snake’s body temperature and level of activity increase the warmer it gets outside, said Shannon Lawrence, a biologist at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Victoria office.

She said snakes are born in the summer, so the snakes Tally saw in February were likely adults.

Crossroads residents may see ratsnakes, coachwhip snakes, hog-nosed snakes and garter snakes, all of which are nonvenomous. They may also see copperheads, which are venomous, Lawrence said.

And don’t expect the Victoria Fire Department to respond if you find one. Unless you’ve been bitten, the department will refer you to Victoria County Animal Control.

Animal Control occasionally receives calls about slithering or hibernating snakes at residences, at businesses or in vehicles, said Arnold Ecle, assistant supervisor. He said Animal Control will consider the snake dangerous even if it isn’t venomous and will take the snake back to its natural habitat and away from people.

Jim Kienig, the owner of Bugmobiles, chuckled when describing how customers have repeatedly told him over the years that they’ve found cobras in and around their homes.

A hog-nosed snake tries to appear venomous by flaring its neck like a cobra. It may also play dead.

“A hognose (sic) will roll over, convulse a few times and loll its tongue out,” Sheryl Smith-Rodgers wrote in an article for the August 2011 Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. “It may even defecate and smell bad. Once the coast is clear, the hognose turns back over and slithers away.”

Kienig said whether Bugmobiles will remove a snake for a customer depends on the situation.

“I’ll tell them, ‘No, it’s not a cobra unless a circus has come to town,’” he said.

To see snakes safely, head over to the Texas Zoo inside Riverside Park. It has snakes native to the area as well as pythons, boas and an indigo snake.

“When (indigo snakes) are in the sun, their skin just shimmers, and they are a good snake to have because they kill rattlesnakes,” said Liz Jensen, the executive director of the Texas Zoo.

The snakes, she said, will soon be available for the public to view in what was once the entrance to the gift shop at the Texas Zoo. The building where they were kept before was damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

“But we do bring them out when we do birthday parties and sometimes walk around with them on the weekend,” Jensen said.

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Former Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest worked for the Victoria Advocate from August 2012-September 2019, first as the courts reporter and then as the environment/investigations reporter. Read her work now at www.jessicapriest.me.

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