AUSTIN (KXAN) — Warmer weather is here and with it, familiar creatures: snakes.
Before you take your family photos in a nearby field, beware.
“With the early bluebonnets, we’ve definitely seen an increase in snake bites,” said Payton Bowyer, with St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. She has seen an increasing need for anti-venom to treat bites from venomous snakes in the Austin area.
As hard as it sounds, not panicking can actually increase your chances of survival.
“The more your heart rate increases, the more that venom is going to be circulating through your body. So you want to stay as calm and keep your heart rate as low as possible until we can get you to an emergency center,” Bowyer added.
Spring is the time of year for snakes to be more visible.
According to Hope Carr with the Austin Zoo, “Native snakes are going to be going coming out of what’s called brumation, which is kind of like a low metabolic rate, they’ve been taking it easy over the winter, not eating as much kind of in hiding, making sure they’re staying as warm as they can.”
So now snakes will be out looking for food and searching for a mate.
During the spring months, when it’s not too hot, snakes are most active around late morning, but once we start seeing more triple digit temperatures, snakes avoid that type of heat, and they come out early in the morning or late in the evening.
Carr expects we may see more snakes this year, because of the weather we experienced in the winter and the debris piles that remain.
“There’s going to be less need for them to roam as far, potentially to find a good place to seek shelter, and food again, you know, the ice storm created essentially a lot of new habitat or what you call a microhabitat for animals to inhabit,” Carr added.
The native venomous snakes in Central Texas are the Diamondback Rattlesnakes, Coral Snakes, Copperheads and Cottonmouth Snakes.
But snakes are not all bad. Rat snakes, among other types of non-venomous snakes, serve a beneficial purpose, eating rodents and acting as a free pest control.
If you see a snake that you recognize as venemous, back away.
If you get bitten…
“You may get dizzy, nauseous, kind of like loss of sight, things like that swelling, redness, burning pain, all of those,” said Bowyer.
But with most major hospitals in the area carrying anti-venom, that’s the best place to get to as snake bites are very treatable if you get to a hospital quickly.