Temperatures are high and summer is in full swing, which means that native snakes are no longer in hiding. Over the past few months, 11 children have already been treated at Cook Children's Hospital for snake bites. That's why many hospitals refer to this period of the year as "snake bite season. "
When it comes to native snakes, not all of their bites are life-threatening, but some of them can be. There are really only four kinds of venomous snakes you'll encounter around here, but those are the ones you want to watch out for.
Copperheads: Here in North Texas, this species is by far the most common. There are different kinds of copperheads, and most of them can be found in areas with abundant leaf litter. This allows them to blend in with their uniquely patterned scales. In general, you won't see a copperhead fleeing your approach. They tend to sit still and rely on their camouflage to go unnoticed, which means it's often difficult to spot them from afar.
Rattlesnakes: Although rattlesnakes are more common in the western areas of the state, local residents have occasionally spotted them in rocky areas around the southern portion of Dallas. Err on the side of caution and steer clear of the distinctive rattle these snakes employ as a warning device.
Cottonmouths: These dark-colored snakes are also referred to as "water moccasins" and are usually found near swamps, rivers, ponds, or streams. When threatened, you'll notice they display white tissue inside of their mouths as a warning sign. That's when you hightail it out of there immediately.
Coral Snakes: We've all heard the saying before - “Red on yellow, harm a fellow. Red on black, friend to Jack.” Coral snakes are easy to identify and have been spotted fairly frequently near the Dallas area. Don't mess with them, no matter how cool their bright colors may be.
What makes many venomous snakes so easy to encounter is their incredible camouflage skills. You might not even realize you're about to tred on a copperhead until you're too close for comfort. Children are especially at risk while playing near rocks and grassy areas. One misplaced hand or foot is all it takes for a bite to happen.
However, there are things you can do to prevent snake bites during this hot season. Here are the top three tips recommended by local authorities on the subject.
1. Avoid piles of leaves, debris, or rocks. In fact, you should keep your yard as cleanly kept as possible. This will make it much harder for your kids (or you) to stumble across well-hidden reptiles in the tall grass or cluttered areas.
2. Educate your children. Kids are curious by nature, which means they often stick their hands in places without looking. Teach them to be cautious while playing outside and remind them to never approach a wild snake by themselves, no matter how harmless the creature may appear.
3. Don't walk around outside barefoot. The more protection your feet and legs have, the lower your chances of being bitten are. Kids are especially at risk of encountering snakes, so make sure they're wearing appropriate footwear when traversing in snake-populated areas.
If you or someone else is bitten by a snake, seek medical attention quickly. Snake bites can become serious problems within a short amount of time, so the faster you can receive treatment, the safer you will be. Most antivenoms cannot be prepared in under half an hour, so you should also call the hospital and let them know you are on your way well ahead of time.