KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
June 5, 2021
By Natalie Cook Clark
Katy weather forecasts more rain after days of downpours leaving many residents concerned about more than rising water, but what else often is brought out with it. People need to be cautious, not alarmed by the Katy’s slithery residents. Know when to walk away and when to call for help when you encounter one of these snakes.
DeKays Brown snake (Storeria Dekayi) non venomous species. Photo courtesy of Tomball/Cypress/Katy Texas Snake ID
Heavy Rains Bring Snakes Out Making Encounters More Likely
Katy residents are long use to living amongst snakes, but this rain makes close encounters of a more frequent nature much more likely.
One Katy Resident Found Not Two
Jeremy Hopkins in Elyson found not one but two Diamondback water snakes at his front door.
“I was actually at home when I saw them,” says Jeremy Hopkins. “I went out to pick up a package and they were right there by my bare feet when I looked down. My heart definitely skipped a few beats there.”
He called someone from his neighborhood that came and safely relocated the snakes away from his home.
Photo credit: Jeremy Hopkins
“The ‘a dead snake is the best snake’ comments are archaic and unnecessary,” says Angelina Allen, a Katy resident. “Snakes are vital to our ecosystem and help control rat and inset populations.”
“If you happen upon a snake the best thing to do is leave it alone,” says Allen. “If you’re unsure about an ID do not touch it.”
“Touching a snake puts you at the most risk for a bite because you have to enter their strike zone,” stresses Allen.
Most Common Katy Snakes
The greater Houston area has 34 different kinds of snakes. Of that number, about four are venomous and considered aggressive. If you see a snake, leave it alone or call Animal Control. Animal control says the water moccasin, or cottonmouth, is one of the most frequently seen venomous snakes.
Venomous, Very Common, Aggressive/Defensive
MARKINGS: Tan or pale brown body with dark brown, hourglass-shaped bands on its back
Although copperheads are typically found in the eastern part of Texas, they have been known to make frequent appearances in Katy.
Copperheads like to hide in wooded, suburban areas, and are unaccustomed to being in close proximity to humans.
Northern Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin)
Venomous, Moderately Common, Moderately Aggressive
MARKINGS: Dark colored, indistinct bands or markings, and a large, flat head that is wider than the neck
Although only 7% of all snakebite cases in Texas involve cottonmouths, this snake is on the list because it has been known to hang out in creeks, irrigation ditches, and rice fields in the Katy area. Their bite can cause severe tissue damage.
Katy resident Bessy Gomez provided this picture of a snake in her landscaping.
Texas Coral Snake
Venomous, Moderately Common, Not Aggressive
MARKINGS: Black head, red, black, and yellow stripes on body
A coral snake's diet consists mostly of small lizards and other snakes. It can be found in urban areas, in gardens, and wooded lots. With neurotoxic venom more potent than other species, it's a good thing they will only bite if provoked.
Western Rat Snake
Not Venomous, Very Common
MARKINGS: Dark-colored, square "spots" on light brown skin
The coloring can vary greatly, but the Texas rat snake is usually yellow or tan, and all have a solid gray head. These snakes can mostly be found around farmlands or fields. They can climb well, and feed mostly on rodents and birds.
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Venomous, Rare, Aggressive
MARKINGS: Black and white banded tail, dark, diamond-shaped blotches, head is wider than the neck
The western diamondback rattlesnake is the most abundant of all venomous snakes in Texas. But the humid Katy climate is not its preferred habitat, as it usually prefers a more dry and arid terrain. Easily provoked, this snake will warn you by shaking or "rattling" its tail if it feels threatened. Seek medical attention immediately if bitten.
Texas Brown Snake
Non-venomous, Very Common, Not Aggressive
MARKINGS: Brown with common black vertical stripe; young ones can have a reddish tint
The Texas brown snake can commonly be found in gardens and flowerbeds. They feed on insects and earthworms.
Social Media Helping Snakes
Social media has brought with it many great resources to the snake identification community and also a place where people can go to get more information in general on a creature that use to be very feared.
Tomball/Cypress/Katy Texas Snake ID is a Facebook group that helps educate people and ID’s snakes in the local area.
“I had an irrational fear of snakes that was keeping me and family out of my backyard,” says Claire Cooper, a local mom who started the site. “I had to overcome it and had to learn as much as I could about snakes because they aren’t going anywhere, they are a part of life.”
Cooper has served as admin for serval pages over the years and now is a known as a local snake lady because of her ongoing knowledge for the subject and belief that not all snakes are bad.
Who do You Call for Help?
There are so many options. The social media sites above can help connect residents with services to relocate snakes.
"You shouldn't have to pay to relocate a snake," says Cooper.
This link can help residents find free location services.
“The best way to ward off unwanted animals is to control what they eat,” says Chris Williams of Urban Jungle Wildlife Removal. “To avoid snakes, spray for bugs to ward off lizards, control rat and rodent population. Everyone has them but if you control the food source, you’ll avoid those types of predators.”
Keep Snakes Away
Photo courtesy of Tomball/Cypress/Katy Texas Snake ID
If you see a snake, call a removal company such as Urban Jungle Wildlife Removal, or your local Animal Control. Katy has three counties and therefore, three animal control offices:
Harris County 281-999-3191
Fort Bend County 281-342-1512
Waller County 979-826-8033
Your neighborhood can also direct you on who to call as Elyson did in the case of Mr. Hopkins when he found his two visiting snakes.
Katy residents need to stay alert and know to not touch a snake if they see one. Try to ID it and seek help when needed. Snakes do serve a purpose in our community, make the effort to live together.