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South Texas Poison Center

Texas Snakes

 

Snakes are beautiful and exciting to watch but the South Texas Poison PoisonHelp 1-800-222-1222 Center (STPC) urges caution and respect for these lovely creatures. There are many websites and local programs that can educate people about snakes. Overcoming snake phobias isn’t always easy when you are taught to fear and hate these creatures. A little reptile knowledge can be very useful in Texas -- give snakes the respect they deserve. Some interesting and educational snake websites are:

Texas is home to the following venomous snakes: the Copperhead, Cottonmouth, Rattlesnake, Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Timber Rattlesnake, Mojave Rattlesnake, Blacktail Rattlesnake, Western Rattlesnake, Massasauga, Pygmy Rattlesnake, and Harlequin Coral Snake.

Texas is also home to hundreds of other snakes, some of which mimic their venomous cousins. The Texas bull snake does a very realistic job of imitating a rattler -- even down to the rattling sound! A milksnake and a coral snake look alarmingly alike -- same colors but in different orders. Learn to tell the difference.

 

milk and coral snakes
Which is which?
The snake on the LEFT is a CORAL SNAKE. Venomous.
The snake on the RIGHT is a MILKSNAKE. Not venomous.
Look at their stripes -- remember this rhyme: Red and yellow, kill a fellow. The coral snake has red next to yellow stripes.
Red and black, friend of Jack. The milksnake has red next to black stripes.

 

Prevention is the key when dealing with snakes. Wear boots and heavy pants when hiking. Avoid walking in tall grass or underbrush and do not reach into rocky crevices, under logs or rocks.

Do not try to kill a snake - ANY snake, and if you see what appears to be a dead snake, do not touch it.

A snake can strike up to one hour after death.

Is the only good snake a dead snake? This and other interesting and well-written info on the Texas Snakes website.

 

Photos of Venomous Snakes of Texas

Photo of copperhead Photo of copperhead Photo of copperhead
Copperhead
Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin)
 
Photo of rattlesnake Photo of timber rattler Photo of diamondback rattler
Rattlesnake
Timber Rattler
Diamondback Rattler
 
Photo of mojave rattlesnake Photo of blacktail rattler Photo of western rattler
Mojave Rattlesnake
Blacktail Rattler
Western Rattler
 
Photo of mojave rattlesnake Photo of blacktail rattler Photo of coral snake
Massasauga Rattler
Pygmy Rattlesnake
Coral Snake

 

Snakebite FAQs

Q: How common are venomous bites?
A: Of the estimated 45,000 snakebites each year in the United States, approximately 7,000 to 8,000 involve venomous species.

 

Q: Are all snakes venomous?
A: Two families of venomous snakes are native to the United States. The vast majority are pit vipers, of the family Crotalinae, which include rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths (water moccasins). About 99 percent of the venomous bites in this country are from pit vipers. The other family of domestic venomous snakes is Elapidae, which includes two species of coral snakes found chiefly in the Southern states.

 

Q: Are all snakebites fatal?
A: No. While about 8,000 people a year receive venomous bites in the United States, only five to six victims die. Some experts say that it is because victims cannot always positively identify a venomous snake, they do not seek prompt medical attention or they may not believe the snake is venomous.

 

Q: What are the early onset and long-term signs and symptoms of injury?
A: Early onset symptoms of venomous snakebites include pain, puncture wounds from fangs, blurred vision, blood from the wound, dizziness, excessive sweating, fainting, loss of muscle coordination, swelling, weakness, rapid pulse, nausea and vomiting. Long-term effects of venomous snakebites include loss of limb, decreased mobility and tissue death or necrosis at the site of the injury.

 

Q: How can I avoid getting a snakebite?
A: Some bites, such as those inflicted when snakes are accidentally stepped on or encountered in wilderness settings, are difficult to prevent. But experts say a few precautions can lower the risk of being bitten: leave snakes alone. Many people are bitten because they try to kill a snake or get a closer look at it. Stay out of tall grass unless you wear thick leather boots, and remain on hiking paths as much as possible. Keep hands and feet out of areas you can't see. Don't pick up rocks or firewood unless you are out of a snake's striking distance. Be cautious and alert when climbing rocks.

 

Q: Should you immediately seek treatment if you are bitten?
A: Yes. If you cannot seek attention immediately, many health-care professionals embrace just a few basic first-aid techniques. According to the American Red Cross, these steps should be taken:

  • wash the bite with soap and water
  • immobilize the bitten area
  • keep the bitten area lower than the heart
  • seek medical attention as soon as possible

 

Q: How should you NOT treat a snakebite?
A: Here's a list of things not to do:

  • Do not eat or drink anything unless okayed by medical sources
  • Do not engage in strenuous physical activity
  • Do not apply oral (mouth) suction to bite
  • Do not cut into or incise bite marks with a blade
  • Do not drink any alcohol or use any medication
  • Do not apply either hot or cold packs
  • Do not apply a narrow, constrictive tourniquet such as a belt, necktie or cord
  • Do not use a stun gun or electric shock of any kind
  • Do not waste time or take any risks trying to kill, bag or bring in offending snake
  • Go to the nearest healthcare facility

 

Q: How are venomous bites treated today?
A: Prior to the FDA approval of CroFabª in 2000, the only specific treatment for crotalid snakebites was Antivenin (Crotalidae) Polyvalent, which was introduced by Wyeth-Ayerst in 1954 and is commonly referred to as the 'Wyeth serum'. In January 2001, Wyeth announced the discontinuation of their antivenom.

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