Monday, February 21, 2011

Snakes in Texas

Snakes occur throughout the state of Texas. Of the 254 counties in Texas, not one of them is snake free.

Granted some Texans may be reluctant to brag about this one, but the Lone Star State is, undeniably, a cornucopia of snake diversity. Although the exact number of species is hard to determine, we boast a stunning 76 species of snakes. If you include both species and subspecies in that number, it gives you a grand total of 115 or more - the highest number in all of the United States.

Snakes often occur in the vicinity of suburban and urban residential areas. They can even show up occasionally in your backyard. If the presence of snakes is deemed undesirable, removing their shelter is one of the most effective ways of discouraging them.

In Texas, we have an average of 2 to 3 deaths per year from snakebites. This is in comparison with 5 to 7 deaths per year from insect bites and an average of about 8 deaths per year from lightning.

Large species of snakes may live to a ripe old age of 40 years or even longer.

Snakes can absorb heat from the ground, from the surrounding air, and from objects next to them.

An animal that has venom is called "venomous." An animal that would make you sick if you ate it is "poisonous." Only a small number of snakes have venom. So although some people refer to snakes as "poisonous," technically, they should be called venomous.

There is no one simple hard and fast criterion a person can use to tell a venomous snake from a harmless one. None of the popular criteria such as a broad, triangular head, a heavy body, cat's eyes (vertical pupils), a flat body, or rough scales are safe since both harmless and dangerous snakes are known to share some or all of these traits.


Visit the source for more facts about snakes in Texas:

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/junior_naturalists/moresnakes.phtml#s25

Be aware. be informed. Be prepared.

Riverwalker

14 comments:

Shreela said...

I almost walked into a coiled snake in our driveway - thankfully I dropped my little kid lawn chair on it mid-strike. The neighbor across the street killed it for us. A few years later, they found a snake in their dishwasher!

As a young adult, my dog found 2 snakes (different times). The first time the city cops killed it for me (yea smaller towns!). I tried to kill the second snake, but when the head and tail shot straight up into the air when I struck it with the hoe, I almost threw up on the snake, so I got a neighbor to finish it off.

I moved back to my childhood neighborhood - one street away, but bordering the same field. Hubby was berry picking and encountered a copperhead that actually chased him a bit before he beat it with my cane (we both use my old post-op cane when berry picking, thank goodness!)

A few years after the copperhead incident, I look up to see a guy in hunting gear walking down our street to the field - toting a rifle in a city suburb! He quickly explained his intent when he saw my eyes widen LOL. One of his hunting dogs came down sick, and the vet found the snake bite, so he was going to hunt down and kill the field snakes. We wished him good luck, telling him we'd ignore any shots we might hear.

Never run into a rattlesnake on the coast though, not sure if they live here.

Shreela said...

Oh, forgot one of our other neighbors' found a snake in their house after we flooded in 2001.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. Sometimes we forget the little guys that live with us. One more point of note. While I was woking at a childrens hospital in San Antonio, we got a few coral snake bites in last spring. As a medical professional, at that time, I was shocked to learn that all the anti-toxin for that snake venom was expired and no one knew how to make more nor had anyone made any in the last 10 years in the US, as the incidence of being bit had droped so much it was no longer profitable.
I left the medical field in August, and up till then there was no anti-toxin available. Hopefully things have changed. If you do get bit, please seek medical help, there are still ways to save your life.

Thx,
Tigertaz

sonderegger said...

killed a copperhead last week, also in my driveway, killed 2 a couple years ago in the back yard(we border a field too). i saw a rattlesnake in the dunes on the beach 20 ish years ago when i was living on the beach between hs and college.

True Texan said...

Next door neighbor had a two foot coral snake in her back yard last summer! We are in San Antonio, and I have 3 boys that I had a very stern talking to about backing away! I had no idea there was no anti venom. Good post, by the way!

Anonymous said...

found this about the antivenom while looking for other things.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/coral-snake-antivenom-crisis

tigertaz

Riverwalker said...

To: Shreela

Most snakes are not migratory and don't travel very far from their "home territory". If you have a vacant lot or field close to your home, you will probably have more than your share of encounters. I have over 18 acres of open land across my home at the edge of town and get more than my share.

Thanks.

RW

Riverwalker said...

To: Tigertaz

Good advice...seeking medical attention right away is your best course of action.

Thanks.

RW

Riverwalker said...

To: sonderegger

If you live next to a vacant lot or field as you mentioned then the probability of running across a snake or two goes way up.

Number one reason to keep the grass mowed...snakes like tall grass!

Thanks.

RW

Riverwalker said...

To: True Texan

Make sure the young ones learn the safety rhyme about coral snakes...

Red touch yellow, kill a fellow; red touch black, venom lack!

Thanks.

RW

BTW: Thanks for the link Tigertaz!

Shreela said...

@sonderegger - sounds like we've lived kinda near each other at times,

@tigertaz - thanks for the coral snake antivenom info, even if it is scary. Interesting how they extended the expiration date a few times.

@Riverwalker - the field used to be owned by the city, who'd mow it once a year. It was purchased a few years back, and until hurricane Ike, the new owners mowed it more than the city used to, since they have a grandfathered mini-ranch next to it. But after Ike knocked down a few big trees, they haven't been mowing it very much.

Groundhog said...

"There is no one simple hard and fast criterion a person can use to tell a venomous snake from a harmless one."

I got one sure fire method :)

I recently found a Texas Juvinile Rat Snake curled up in my pantry! After I re-swallowed my heart I set about trying to identify and capture it. For some reason I gave it the benefit of the doubt. THAT one got relocated. I've had two in my house since living here. Had one dog killed and two others bit by rattlers. Not a big snake fan.

Hubert said...

"Guys,I came across this website while searching for antivenom and I found out that regarding all the details of antivenom (or antivenin or antidote) you can visit this site:
http://www.antiven.in
You will get all the details in this website regarding the venomous bites or stings of snakes, spiders, scorpions, insects or other venomous insects. It will explain every single thing about antivenom as to how they are made, supplied, dealt with and lots more. This is seriously helpful for serious venomous attacks. Go and check this out.




"

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