NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - While you may be venturing outdoors for the first time in months remember snakes have not been quarantining and this is the time of year when bites drastically increase.
While summer hasn't officially started the hot, dry weather has already overtaken North Texas -- and snakes like warm weather.
According to officials with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, the copperhead is among four venomous snakes, including rattlesnakes, cottonmouths and coral snakes, that people should watch for while walking. The pattern of the snakes blends well with fallen leaves and debris.
Wildlife specialist Maureen Frank, Ph.D., with Texas A&M AgriLife, said, "People can encounter snakes while walking trails, camping or just doing summer yard work around the house."
Snakes are integral to Texas' regional ecosystems. While many Texans view them as a dangerous pest, they are an important predator of insects and animals. There are around 75 snake species in the Lone Star State, but only about a dozen are venomous.
Snakes are typically not aggressive and will typically escape an area if they hear someone approaching.
To reduce the risk of snakes being attracted to your house Frank recommends that homeowners remove potential shelter and food.
"Cutting the grass, removing brush and debris, and trimming the lower branches on bushes and trees will go a long way in reducing the places a snake might want to hide," she said.
Since most snake bites to humans happen on the feet/lower leg or the hands experts recommend removing socks and rings because of swelling. You should try to identify the snake -- either with a good description or by taking a picture -- and if the snake is believed to be venomous head to the nearest hospital.
Experts say tourniquets, suction devices and other mythologized methods to remove snake venom can do more harm than good.
When heading outdoors this summer remember:
- Snakes will typically give a warning before striking. Pay attention.
- General rule of thumb: "It's best to just leave them alone," whether venomous or not.
- Reduce snake habitats around the house.
- If bitten, stay calm and get to a hospital.
- Dead snakes can still bite.
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