AUSTIN (KXAN) - Officials at Seton Healthcare warn the public to be aware that the streak of hot weather is also affecting the behavior of venomous snakes and other wildlife in the area as they broaden their search for water and food.
Medical staffs have seen a 14 percent increase this year so far in venomous bites and stings, and the number of children treated at Dell Children's Medical Center is up 46 percent, officials said.
Residents, farmers and ranchers may be more likely to come across potentially frightened reptiles, insects and animals.
Pit vipers strike at movement and are the most common venomous snakes found in Texas. Pit vipers include:
The second most common venomous snake in Texas is the coral snake, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services .
Seton Healthcare officials said three patients have died from snake bite at University Medical Center Brackenridge since May 2010. While that is not a huge number, on average, fewer than one Texan per year dies from a snake bite.
Texas Parks and Wildlife says the only sure way to tell a venomous snake from a harmless one is an examination of the snake hollow of grooved fangs and venom glands -- and that the best way not to get bitten is through avoidance.
Information from TPW about snakes and their habits
- Snakes are often found under rocks, fallen limbs and in the leaf litter
- They can also be hidden in tall grassy and brushy areas
- Rodents are one of a snakes favorite meals, so avoid areas where mice and rats may be, such as trash, brush and rock piles, stacked lumber and stone walls fences
- When outdoors, always look where you step. When you know you are going to be in snake territory, wear boots, thick jeans or chaps and gloves.
- Never reach under rocks or into holes or other blind crevices. Look before you reach.
- Don't remove or turn over stones and rocks with your bare hands.
- Be careful when climbing around rocks and watch where you sit.
- Always watch where you step on warm rocks, especially in spring. Be careful when stepping over or on fallen logs.
- If you lift a stone or log or any object under which a venomous snake might be, first move it with a stick or hook. Don't place your fingers under it.
- If you are walking in grass brush or cactus patches, stay in the cleared areas as much as possible. Rattlers are hard to see in their natural habitat as they are protectively colored.
- Avoid walking around a campsite in the darkness. Rattlers are nocturnal much of the year.
- If you have to move about, use a flashlight to light your way and don't go barefoot. Step on a log never over it.
- Carry a stick when walking through tall grass and brush and beat the ground with it. This will warn the snake that you are in the area. Most snakes will try to escape from the vibrations.
If you spot a snake, remain still and slowly move away.
If you hear a rattlesnake, but don't see it, don't move until you have determined which direction the sound is coming from so as not to move towards instead of away from the snake.
How to discourage snakes from coming into a yard or home
Removing shelter that snakes can live in is one of the most effective ways of discouraging them. Eliminate rock piles, brush piles, and areas of tall grass from property.
Store lumber, wood piles and other debris around the home at least 18 inches off the ground.
Controlling insect and rodent populations in the area will also help to discourage snakes by eliminating their food supply. Snakes occasionally enter houses, barns and other buildings because they are attracted by rodents and insects and cool, damp, dark shelter provided by such places.
Seal off all entry points to a home to keep snakes out, such as openings around water pipes, electrical outlets, doors and windows. Any holes in masonry foundations should be sealed off with mortar. Hardware cloth or sheet metal can be used to seal holes in wooden buildings or siding.
Symptoms of a snake bi te
- blurred vision
- excessive sweating
- fang marks
- increased salivation
- localized pain and burning
- muscle contractions
- muscle incoordination
- nausea and vomiting
- numbness and tingling
- rapid pulse rate
- skin discoloration
- swelling in the bite area
- tissue death
What to do if bitten by a snake
Call 9-1-1 immediately or contact the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222 to find out which medical centers in your area have the appropriate antivenom.
Move the victim away from the snake
Don't attempt to capture the snake unless it's absolutely dead. Having the snake can help a physician determine what kind of antivenom to use.
Keep the victim calm.
Remove restrictive clothing and/or jewelry from the snake bite area before swelling starts.
Keep movement of a bitten limb to a minimum.
Keep a bitten limb at the same level of the victim's heart. Lifting it higher could allow the venom to more quickly disperse to other parts of the body.
Wash the bite gently
with soap and water.
Do not try to suck the venom from the wound, and do not make any cuts to the wound area. Do not apply a tourniquet and do not apply ice to the wound. Do not give alcohol to the victim and do not give them any pain medication unless told to do so by a doctor.
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