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Texas Snakes and How To Avoid Their Bite

June 19, 2017 at midnight

It's important to remember that the summer months lure more into the sunshine than just people. Did you know there are 76 different species and 115 subspecies of snakes that slither their way across Texas? While the majority pose no danger to humans, around 15 percent are venomous. If you're an outdoor enthusiast, know your enemy and be wary!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

While it's best to avoid confrontation with a snake altogether, being able to tell the venomous and the harmless apart is advantageous. Texas is home to four large species, each with distinct features.

The Copperhead

The copperhead's venom is unlikely to kill you, but will certainly cause infection, pain, and discomfort. Its colors and pattern are ideal for hiding among dead leaves in wooded areas, showing a blend of rust, tan and brown. It only attacks if threatened.

If you enjoy trekking, keep an eye out. Although real copperheads are rare, they are about; keep in mind too that other species that are more dangerous might look similar.

The Cottonmouth

Able to grow up to a length of five feet, the cottonmouth—or water moccasin—gets darker as it gets older, transitioning from light brown color to shades of black. Its name comes from the white lining in its mouth. It will attack if threatened. The cottonmouth's venom is very toxic, will cause severe bleeding, and requires medical intervention.

The Coral Snake

Dangerous enough to be mimicked by other species to trick predators, the coral snake tends to be a recluse. It hunts at night and spends its days under soil or in rock burrows. Its scales show lines of black, yellow and red. It's easy to tell the coral snake apart from imposters; the coral snake never has black bordering red. Its bite can cause paralysis for a number of hours. The first symptoms following a bite are impaired vision and slurred speech.

The Rattle Snake

Unlike other venomous species, the rattlesnake will give out a warning if you step too close. The rattle at the end of its tail is composed of a series of hollow, interlocked segments of keratin. If you hear such a noise, it's best to back away slowly. There are several types of rattlesnake in Texas, from the pygmy—a small snake that prefers to live close to streams and marshes—to the diamondback that can grow up to eight feet in length and is found in dry areas with thick vegetation.

How To Avoid Snake Bites

Non-venomous species are common around households in rural areas, making their homes in small spaces away from sunlight. To stay out of trouble,

  • always watch your step when working around trash dumps and wood piles. Watch where you place your arms and keep these piles as far away from the house as possible;
  • consider all things stored on the floor—such as tools and tarps—as possible shelters for snakes. Keep livestock barns and storage areas as neat and as clean as you can.

If you're likely to spend a lot of time outdoors, there's a good chance you'll cross paths with snakes in their natural habitat. Keep safe by:

  • not reaching inside animal burrows without checking them out first.
  • making use of a flashlight when moving on foot at night.
  • always being aware of where you place your feet and hands before actually moving.
  • using a long stick or a tool to clear out areas that could serve as good hiding places for snakes. wearing snakebite-proof trousers and heavy footwear.

What To Do If Bitten

Proper first aid can make a huge difference in the ultimate consequences of a venomous snake bite; it can save a life. If either you or your companion has been bitten:

  • seek medical attention as soon as possible; remain calm;
  • remove clothing near the bite area;
  • keep bite area immobilized.

Never forget that it's always better to be safe than sorry!


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