Snake season returns to Big Country: What to do if bitten


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Warmer weather has brought the copperheads and diamondbacks out of hiding and into the open in the Big Country. That is, when they’re not blending in to their surroundings.

“Usually the snakes will start coming out a little bit the first warm days we get in the spring, and the longer and warmer the days get, the more active they’ll be,” says Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist Annaliese Scoggin.

Copperhead, Texas Parks & Wildlife website

There are dozens of different kinds of snakes in Texas, but the two most common venomous types in the Big Country are the copperhead and the diamondback.

The copperhead has a light brown color and is known to blend in with dead foliage, like leaves. They have a triangular head and no rattle.

Diamondback, Texas Parks & Wildlife website

The Diamondback is a much darker green or grey and has a diamond pattern along the length of its back. Its telltale rattle will let you know if you’ve gotten too close.

It’s estimated by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services that “On average, 1 to 2 people in Texas die each year from venomous snake bites in Texas.”

If you or someone nearby does get bitten here are some guidelines to navigate the situation with relative ease.

  1. Get yourself and the victim away from the snake.
  2. Take a picture with your phone or camera if possible (do not put yourself in extra danger to do so) This can be used to identify the snake and what anti-venom should be used.
  3. Call 911 for assistance as soon as possible.
  4. Clean the wound with soap and warm water.
  5. Keep yourself and the victim calm while emergency services arrive.

There are also many misconceptions when it comes to snake bites. check this list of DON’Ts from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.

  1. Do not attempt to suck venom from the bite wound.
  2. Do not make cuts over the snake bite. This often leads to more tissue trauma and damage.
  3. Do not apply a tourniquet or other constricting device.
  4. Do not apply a cold pack or ice to the snake bite.
  5. Do not apply an electrical shock to the snake bite.
  6. Do not take pain reliever or other medications unless instructed to do so by a physician.
  7. Do not drink alcoholic beverages.
  8. Do not administer anti-venom in the field. Treatment for snake bites is best conducted in an appropriate medical facility.

While snake bites usually occur in wooded or tall grass areas, snakes can be found just about anywhere humans are. Exercise caution when moving large rocks, logs, or woodpiles. If possible, wait until colder weather when the snakes will be less active.

“The most important thing to remember about venomous snakes is that they aren’t out to get you, they’re only trying to defend themselves, because most bites happen when people are messing with a snake that wasn’t messing with them first,” said Scoggin.

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