Beautiful, Yet Deadly

The Eastern Coral Snake is a beautifully colored creature; yet it is ranked as the second deadliest viper in the world.  We often think the rattle snake is more deadly, but it’s not.  Both the head and tail of the coral snake look much the same; both are small and rounded.  The coral snake chews on it’s victim, or hangs on, allowing for the snake to deposit more venom than snakes that strike.

This snake came out to warm itself in the sunshine as many cold-blooded creatures do after a cold snap followed by mild weather.   Never attempt to touch one of these or pick one up.  The following little poem is the best rule of thumb to know if it’s an actual coral snake or a less venomous look-alike; teach it to your children.
Red on black, venom lack;
Red on yellow, it will kill a fellow.

Enjoy our beautiful fall weather.  But stay aware!   Be watchful and wear boots.   Live life outdoors!

Easter Coral Snake; Photo by B.LaVergne, Nov 19, 2010.
Easter Coral Snake; Photo by B.LaVergne, Nov 19, 2014.

 

Colorado County Snakes

Living out in the country may, indeed, expose us more often to snakes than living in the city would.  I have decided to do some much delayed research on these valuable members of the Oakridge Ranch environment.  I hope I haven’t missed one, but did you know that there are 21 Colorado County snakes species?   Only four on this list is poisonous.

That four includes the Copperhead, Agkistrodon contortrix,  Cottonmouth Agkistrodon piscivorus, Timber Rattlesnake Crotalus horridus and Texas Coralsnake Micrurus tener.  Being familiar with their habitat and life cycle should go a long way toward shielding you.  Reiterating that being aware and being educated about these beneficial creatures as they make a living on the ranch, perhaps allows a little more co-existence.   We must take precautions around our homes.  No question.   But, the environmental impact of the old adage:  “the only good snake is a dead snake”, can be very detrimental and I submit is overdoing it.

The citizen scientists among us might want to check out:  http://www.herpsoftexas.org/view/snakes   and look for Eastern Racer, Red-Bellied Mudsnake, Plains Hog-Nosed, Eastern Hog-Nosed, Prairie Kingsnake, Common Kingsnake, Coachwhip, Plain-Bellied Watersnake, Southern Watersnake, Diamond-Backed Watersnake, Rough Greensnake, Eastern Ratsnake, DeKay’s Brownsnake, Checkered Gartersnake, Western Ribbonsnake, Rough Earthsnake, and Plains Threadsnake – – all common names from this website, with scientific names shown there, along with pictures, descriptions of habitat, etc.

If you find a fascinating snake you are unsure of, take a picture and send it in.  (use the zoom lens, right?)

Snakes in Our Environment

We have recently had some questions from new land owners here at Oakridge Ranch on snake control.   What can be done to protect small children and elderly family members from snakes and ensure your family is safe from snake bites?   What can you do in the case of a snake bite when here at Oakridge?   Attached is a link from Colorado County AgriLife Extension Service on snake control that may be useful to you as a property owner.   However, you may not want to get close enough to determine whether the snake’s eye pupils are vertical slits or round as mentioned in this article to determine whether you have a poisonous or non-poisonous snake on your hands.   http://colorado.agrilife.org/files/2011/08/snakeandtheircontrol_16.pdf

Snakes are a part of our environment whether it’s in town or out in the countryside like here at Oakridge Ranch.   Most of the information gathered from sites like Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, et. al, will tell you that keeping your place mowed and weeds down will help deter snakes.   Snakes like a place to hide such as in tall grasses & weeds around trees, rocks, logs cut for firewood, brush piles, etc.

And educating your children while making sure they wear tall boots outdoors is a must.   Even very young children can learn that snakes are quite dangerous, to not touch and to call an adult right away.   Many families use a “danger word” for such times as this.   When that word is yelled out, everyone around knows to go see and watch their step.   And children can also learn to freeze in place when a snake is sighted.   They should be taught that movement can frighten a snake into striking.

Most injuries from snake bites are on feet, legs from the knee down or on hands (when someone has reached to pick something off the ground and has not seen the snake beforehand).   So boots are best when walking outdoors here at the Ranch year round especially if the area is not mowed low.

In situations of a snake bite it’s best to call 911 immediately, immobilize the bitten person and begin moving toward the emergency room.   This will alert the Sheriff’s Department at Colorado County Dispatch to your emergency.   Colorado County Dispatch is trained for these types of events and they will direct you as needed.   County Dispatch may alert Oakridge Volunteer Fire Department (OVFD) and/or the Colorado County Sheriff’s Department whose First Responders can assist you, and help you get to the nearest emergency room for treatment or give you any needed escort to the ER.

Having said all that, the best thing is to stay alert……even in winter when snakes are supposed to be hibernating.   Because we usually have mild winters here, many snakes do not truly hibernate in our area.  Educate your children, even those who are very young.   And don’t forget your elderly family members or friends who may not be able to see quite as well as they once did.   Also, the use of a good dog who can alert you to snakes around your home is a great idea.   The local vets do have a rattlesnake vaccine for your animals that will keep them from having such a bad reaction and may actually save your dog’s life.

Live life outdoors!   Be aware!   Be safe!   Enjoy this beautiful countryside here in the Oak Prairie Region of Texas!