Spring is upon us and with warmer weather comes wildlife reappearing in our homes and yards. Here are some helpful links and tips on what to do if you spot a critter you don't recognize.
KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
February 19, 2018
By Jennifer Skelton
Opening photo by Matt Greene
Snakes, fire ants, and spiders are a few species that will be creeping and crawling their way into our lawns and homes this Spring. Below are links and reminders for how to handle them.
Copperheads have chestnut or reddish-brown crossbands on a lighter colored body. In the spring, these can be found near rivers, streams, and bayous along with weed-covered vacant lots. Their venom is not deadly because they don't see humans as prey. The bite, however, becomes infected easily so those bitten should seek medical treatment immediately. If a Copperhead bites, it is due to a fear response. This is the most common snake bite because in fear they don't retreat but freeze and area often stepped on.
Cottonmouths are also known as 'water moccasins' because they can be found in and around water. They will coil and show fangs when they feel threatened. It is important to retreat at that point or they will bite. Their bite is painful and deadly in severe cases due to the high rate of infection. If you are bitten, seek treatment immediately even if you don't feel immediate symptoms.
Although there are many types or Rattlesnakes, the Western Diamondback is the most common snake in Texas. They are active in the daytime from April to May, when the temperatures are milder. In the summer months, you will find them hiding in dark places such as trash piles and junk yards. Rattlesnakes are dormant in the winter months but can be seen out if the temperatures are above 50 degrees. Although their venom is quite potent, few deaths are reported. Immediate medical attention is the key. Rattlesnakes feed on a diet of rodents, therefore, authorities ask that they only be killed if necessary.
'Red on yellow, kill a fellow; red on black, venom lack,' is a handy way to distinguish the highly venomous Coral snake from nonvenomous ringed species. Coral snakes have by far the most deadly venom...a lethal dose for an adult is 5 - 10 milligrams. Since its toxic peptides spread rapidly through the blood stream, the application of a tourniquet and immediate hospital administration of antivenin is recommended. 1% of snake bites are by Coral snakes and only 10% of those are fatal. Due to them being secretive and non-aggressive towards humans, most bites are to people that handle them. They are mostly seen in Spring and Fall.
For a detailed list of Do's and Don't when you encounter a snake, please visit the Texas Parks & Wildlife website. (click here)
Red imported fire ants came to the US, from South America, in the 1930's by accident through a port in Mobile, Alabama. They were in the soil used for ship's ballasts. When disturbed, fire ants emerge aggressively, crawling up vertical surfaces, biting and stinging “all at once”. Their sting usually leaves a white pustule on the skin. If you are stung, watch the area affected for excessive swelling, itching or redness, or other symptoms like shortness of breath, thickening of the tongue, sweating, etc. that could indicate a severe systemic allergic reaction. If this occurs, seek medical attention. Otherwise treat stings as you would stings of other insects and keep them clean and intact to avoid secondary infections.
For ways to control fire ants, visit the Texas A&M AgriLife (click here).
The safest way to interact with wildlife is with a camera from a distance. Many times what we perceive as injured wildlife is NOT injured.
If you do find injured wildlife that is not a reptile, you need to get it to a licensed rehabber within 3 days. In Texas you can find these listed on TPWD website. https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/rehab/list/
If it’s a reptile, you can join one of these groups for identification. TEXAS Reptile & Amphibian Identification, U.S.A. Reptile & Amphibian Identification, Greater Houston Area Snake Identification and Relocation, and if you absolutely need it removed you can find a volunteer The State of Texas : Reptile Relocation.
As always, they are available to relocate and ID.