Warmer Weather Means its Snake Time!

The warmer weather means its snake time, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine says as the temperatures start to rise, snakes squirm out of their underground burrows where they spent the winter.

Dr. Jill Heatley says at this time of the year, pets are particularly susceptible to snake bits. She says dogs and cats are already being treated at A&M's small animal hospital for encounters with snakes.

Dr. Heatley says dogs are most likely to be bitten on the nose and face, while kitties generally are bitten on the paws.  She says the natural curiosity of animals gets them into trouble with snakes this time of year.

“The area that has been bitten will usually begin to swell almost immediately, which is a tell-tale sign of a snake bite,” Heatley notes. Venom can spread quickly inside the animal, potentially resulting in kidney failure within 12 to 24 hours.

She says snakes also bit humans who may come across them while raking leaves or trimming hedges.

"The thing to remember about snakes is that they generally want to be left alone," Dr. Heatley says. "They are probably more afraid of you than you are of them."

She says there are four types of venomous stakes in Texas, the coral, copperhead, and rattlesnake are 'almost never aggressive unless they are provoked.

The snake to be particularly concerned about is the cottonmouth.

"It has been known to be a little more on the aggressive side, so you should be a little more wary of it, especially if you are near a creek or lake where they are frequently seen."

Dr. Heatley says while snake bites hurt and can be fatal, they are very expensive.  Treatment for a snake bite could set you back $50,000 in hospital bills.“

One of the questions we often get in the veterinary hospital is, ‘How can you tell a venomous snake from a harmless one?’” Heatley said. “The answer is that it is difficult because there are numerous types of snakes that are not venomous that look very similar to a venomous one.” Heatley suggests looking for a triangular-shaped head in identifying poisonous snakes but does not encourage getting too close.

She says even though snakes have gotten a bad rep dating back to the days of Adam and Eve, they perform a critical function in the ecosystem, mainly by holding down the population of rats, mice, and other rodents which frequently carry disease.

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