Spring’s approaching and snakes are on the move in Central Texas

(Texas A&M photo)
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(KWTX) Spring is approaching in Central Texas, snakes are on the move and Texas A&M Associate Professor of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Jill Heatley says that’s bad news for people and pets.

Heatley and other veterinarians at the A&M College of Veterinary Medicine’s Small Animal Hospital say they’re expecting to see an increase in snakebite cases as temperatures rise.

“If you believe your pet has been bitten by a snake, you need to seek veterinary care and the doctor can determine what kind of treatment is necessary,” Heatley said.

In fact, the veterinarians at the clinic have already treated dogs for snakebites this year.

“One pet required significant care after being bitten by a coral snake, but is thankfully going to be fine. Coral snake bites and rattlesnake bites are uncommon, but are life threatening when they occur. Copperhead and cottonmouth bites are extremely common during the summer, as are bites from grumpy non-venomous snakes,” said Christine Rutter, a small animal critical care veterinarian.

When snakes bite people, it can be painful, and expensive, experts say.

Hospital bills of as much as $50,000 aren’t uncommon.

Texas is home to four types of venomous snakes, the coral snake, the copperhead, the rattlesnake and the cottonmouth, but even bites from nonvenomous snakes can case infections.

“The thing to remember about snakes is that they generally want to be left alone,” Heatley said.

“They are probably more afraid of you than you are of them.

It’s important to remember that not all snakebites are the same, Heatley said.

“Sometimes an animal or person will get just a small amount of venom from a bite, and sometimes it’s much more,” she said.

“There is also such a thing as a ‘dry bite’ in which no venom is injected at all. Interestingly enough, larger snakes tend to have lesser amounts of venom than smaller ones.”

The best way to keep the snakes away, Heatley says, is to create open habitats that are less attractive to the reptiles and to be mindful of surroundings.

“When cleaning up brush and leaf piles, it’s a great idea to wear closed toed boots, heavy pants and garden gloves for protection against snake bites,” Heatley said.