Reptile expert gives safety tips as snake season slithers into East Texas

Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 6:15 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2022 at 6:54 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Snake season is slithering in to East Texas.

Caldwell Zoo Supervisor of Reptiles William Garvin said snakes have been slow to emerge, but get ready.

“We would have caught somewhere between 20 and 25 snakes by this point, and I think only we’ve caught less than 10 this year,” Garvin said.

Garvin said there are about 30 different types of snakes in East Texas. Of the 30+, five are venomous.

“There’s only five venomous, so if you can just learn what those five are then you don’t have to worry about really the rest of them,” Garvin said.

The venomous snakes in East Texas to keep an eye out for?

Timber rattlesnakes, pygmy rattlesnakes, cottonmouth snakes, copperhead snakes, and coral snakes.

Garvin said the rattlesnakes are typically found in rural areas, whereas copperheads and cottonmouths can be found just about anywhere. Garvin said it is not as common to find coral snakes.

In order to prepare for the season, Garvin recommends you keep your grass cut, install outdoor lighting or carry a flashlight to see where you are stepping after dark, and watch where you reach because snakes hide in holes or wood piles.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Diversity Biologist Dave Holdermann said be aware of your surroundings:

  • Be aware of snakes where you live, work, and recreate.
  • In most cases, when you encounter a snake―look, admire from a safe distance, and avoid handling the snake.
  • Snakes may seek out sheltered areas around our homes for thermal cover and prey (insects and small rodents). Avoid stacking fuel wood and refuse close to your home. Be careful when pulling fuelwood from the wood pile.
  • Creek and river bottoms are favorite habitats for two common, venomous snakes in East Texas―copperheads and cottonmouths. Be on the lookout for these snakes when you visit your favorite swimming hole or go fishing.
  • Teach children to appreciate snakes as part of the a natural world and to practice snake safety.

“As soon as the temperature gets a little bit warmer and those cold fronts start going away, they’re going to come out,” Garvin said.

If you come across a snake, “The easiest way to reduce your chances of getting bitten is don’t go up to a snake, don’t try and catch it, harass it, kill it. If you could admire it from a distance, you’re way better off,” Garvin said.

While you admire snakes from a distance, Garvin said snakes are good for the ecosystem.

“They prey on things, and likewise they are preyed on by other things, and everything of that nature, so everything’s got to have something to eat. And if you start just taking things out, then the system just kind of starts collapsing.”

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