With warm temperatures and plenty of rainfall this spring, experts say this could be a bumper-crop year for snakes.
Jill Heatley, associate professor of veterinary medicine, notes she and other veterinarians have already seen several snake-bitten pets brought into the Small Animal Hospital at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
She says a snakebite on a human can be painful – and very expensive.
It is not uncommon for a person bitten by a venomous snake to have medical bills of $50,000 or more because of hospitalization, which can run from one day to several weeks, treatments on damaged tissues, plus antivenin treatments that can run into the thousands of dollars, she adds.
Although snakes are found in most of the world – Ireland, Iceland and New Zealand are some of the few snake-free countries – only four types found in Texas are venomous: the coral snake, copperhead, rattlesnake and cottonmouth (also called water moccasin), and the state is a ground zero, slithering paradise for all of them.
“The thing to remember about snakes is that generally, they want to be left alone. They are probably more afraid of you,” Heatley explains.
“Of the four types of venomous snakes in Texas, the coral, copperhead and rattlesnake are almost never aggressive unless they are provoked. The cottonmouth has been known to be a little on the aggressive side, so you should be a little more wary of it, especially if you are near a creek or lake where they have been frequently seen.”
Heatley says an inquisitive pet can be a snakebite victim.
If bitten, a dog usually suffers the bite on its face or nose, while cats tend to be nicked on their paws, she explains.
“The area that has been bitten will usually begin to swell almost immediately, and that’s a tell-tale sign to look for,” she notes. Venom can spread quickly inside the animal, and kidney failure can result within 12 to 24 hours, which is why a bitten animal needs immediate treatment.
She says it’s important to know that all snakebites are not the same.