Thursday, June 2, 2016

Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Snakes

With recent heavy rains, snakes have been out in full force. At a North Texas daycare, a little boy was bit by a copperhead (read here). In Birmingham, a 4-year-old girl and a 76-year-old woman were both bitten by snakes while in a garden (read here). Most snakes are harmless, but some are venomous and can be very dangerous. Here are the snakes in Texas that you should keep a lookout for this time of year:

Cottonmouth: A cottonmouth can reach lengths of up to five feet long. Commonly called a Water Moccasin, these snakes enjoy being near bodies of water and are usually dark black in color with wide bands on its body. This type of snake can be aggressive so keep your eyes open when playing by lakes, ponds and rivers.

Rattlesnake: The Western Diamondback rattlesnake is one of the most common rattlesnakes you’ll find in Texas (except for the eastern part of the state) and accounts for most of the serious envenomations. It can reach lengths of up to seven feet and has a triangular shaped head. They often spend their days hiding in low-growing shrubs or under rocks. The most identifiable part of this snake is its rattle, followed by an equally banded black and white tail and diamond-shaped patterned skin (hence its name). They are not usually aggressive but can be if their habitat is disturbed or threatened or if they feel cornered; so watch where you’re walking when out on hikes!

Copperhead: These snakes are also very common Texas (except for the western part of the state). It can reach up to 30 inches long and has a reddish-brown head and a coppery body. These snakes are usually not aggressive and most people only get bitten by accidently stepping on them. The reason it might be easy to step on one is because they blend in so well with oak leaves and other vegetation. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings and where you are walking when in wooded or park areas.

Texas Coral Snake: This snake is the most colorful of the bunch, only reaching about 2 feet in length. They are not too hard to miss with their bright red, black and yellow rings on the body, but there are other non-venomous snakes that look very similar. Although we don’t see very many Coral snake bites, the bite can be dangerous, especially in children. Their mouths are quite small so they have an easier time biting young children than they do an adult. It is best to avoid these snakes and remember the saying: Red touching yellow, kills a fellow, while red touching black, venom they lack!

Think you've been bitten by a snake?

·         Remain as calm as possible. The more calm you are the slower your heart beats, slowing the spread of the venom.

·         Call your local poison center (1-800-222-1222) right away! Keep the number programmed in your phone so that you have it when you need it. They are available to help 24/7.

·         Avoid food, drinks, and medications -including medications for pain and/or aspirin.

·         Do not try to capture the snake for any purpose.

·         Remove jewelry or anything that may constrict swelling.

·         Do not try to suck the venom out.

·         Do not pack the wound with ice.

·         Do not cut the wound

·         Do not apply a tourniquet

Attempting to treat the bite incorrectly can result in further injury to the area. It is important to remain calm and get to your nearest hospital right away.

Snake bites can be scary, but calling the poison center immediately can help ease your worries and give you some peace of mind. Please do not hesitate to contact the Texas Poison Center Network for FREE assistance. And in case you forgot, here’s the number to save in your phone: 1-800-222-1222.