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Snakes on the Move!

Did you know Harris County is home to 30 species of snakes, but only three are venomous? Most of the snakes encountered in nature are harmless and even beneficial. These tubular, scaled reptiles comprise an important part of our ecosystem.

They help control populations of garden pests, like mice, rats, slugs, and snails, and sometimes even eat venomous snakes! Read More Their sleek, muscular bodies are adapted to aquatic and terrestrial habitats. They can live underground, in trees, and in oceans. There are even “flying” snakes that drift between trees in the tropics. These unique animals see by detecting heat, hear by sensing vibrations, and smell by tasting the air.

The United States is home to more than 200 varieties of snakes, while Texas alone boasts more than 100 documented species. “Education is the best tool to understanding snakes,” said Matt Abernathy, horticulture coordinator at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center. Jones Park houses a variety of snakes in a live display within the Nature Center.

Staff will discuss the common local species and how to identify them Saturday, Aug. 19 at 10 a.m. during a Reptiles & Amphibians program. Also enjoy a Reptile Open House Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 19 and 20 from 1 to 4 p.m. to learn about these fascinating creatures and their natural history. Snakes are usually most active in the summer at dawn and dusk when it’s less hot. They also tend to seek shelter to stay cool during the day, which can be in and around homes sometimes. Before placing a hand in a bush or flower, use a stick or garden tool to check the area for snakes first.

While in the woods, watch where you step and place feet, hands, or arms. “If you encounter a snake, slowly back away to avoid contact,” he said. If you are bitten and unsure of the species, seek medical attention immediately. If it can be done safely, try to snap a picture of the snake. Do not try to capture or kill the snake though since that could result in another bite. “Work to remove all jewelry and tight-fitting clothing from the bite area, stay calm, and keep the bite below the heart,” said Abernathy. Also, take a picture of the bite and note the time to help healthcare providers monitor the progression of swelling.

Snakes are protected by law at all county, state, and federal parks in Texas. Over one dozen species of snakes found in Texas are threatened or endangered with extinction. To learn more, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/junior_naturalists/moresnakes.phtml.



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