Biologists Warn Snakes Still Active - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/25/07-Longview

Biologists Warn Snakes Still Active

With cool mornings and warm afternoons, East Texas biologists said you may come into contact with snakes, sometimes venomous. Four cases of venomous snake bites have been reported in Texas in just the last week.

Underneath rock ledges, wood piles and in decaying vegetation is where biologists said snakes often curl up in cool weather.

"During the cooler weather, the food base, which is normally rats, mice and other rodents, move into the warmth, which is where people are," said Tyler biologist David Sierra of Texas Parks and Wildlife. "Snakes will look for that warmth and that food, so they're going to be moving in to where people might be warm also. Most of our venomous snakes are pit-vipers. They're going to have a triangular shaped head, very broad, triangular shaped head." 

Wood County wildlife biologist Mark McDonald is regularly called out to remove nuisance wildlife from homes and property, including venomous snakes.

"When you are cleaning up brush and leaves this time in the Fall, there's a good chance there could be snake in it," said McDonald.

There are four venomous species in the United States: Copperheads, rattlesnakes, cottonmouths and coral snakes. Of the four species of venomous snakes, all four of them are here in East Texas, sporting anything from a neurotoxin to a hemotoxin. And though a bite may not be fatal, it is always serious.

"Hemotoxin is the most common venom and that's carried by the pit-viper, which is our major venomous snakes. And it travels basically through the blood. It effects the blood system through the lymph's and it causes tissue damage" said Sierra.

If bitten, you have a 24 hour period to get anti -venom.

"The most effective thing to do if you know someone has been bitten is calm them down, reassure them and transport them to the hospital. If you want to do some first aid, immobilize the extremity. Usually it's an arm or a leg, so it can't move. You can take a bandage and wrap it, not tightly, but firmly around the limb to stop the movement of the limb." said Sierra.

Biologists said try not to give snakes any shelter. Keep underbrush and leaves away from your home, and do not stack wood against your home. If bitten, you should put ice on the bite and seek medical treatment. If you can, find out what kind of snake bit you. That way the hospital knows which anti-venom to give you.

Bob Hallmark bhallmark@kltv.com.

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