Dealing with uninvited guests

Published 10:52 pm Wednesday, July 9, 2008

After many months of waiting for warm weather to arrive, many of our reptile friends are making their way into our yards and homes. It is during the summer months that snakes, lizards and other reptiles emerge from their winter dorms and become active. Many people have a fear of a few reptiles, mainly of the snake nature.

“Although people should practice caution when walking through the woods or rocky areas, they shouldn’t be terrified of something that is very unlikely to ever happen to them, since it is rare that someone ever gets bitten by a snake,” Regional Extension Agent Patrick Cook said.

In our area, the most common rattlesnake is known as the Timber Rattlesnake. These snakes can grow to be many feet long and are poisonous.

Cook said that type of snake can most often be found in forested areas and in places where there is little to no development. He added that they have been known to come into yards looking for prey.

“These animals do not look for people to bite. They are not very aggressive unless provoked, which is what causes most snake bites,” Cook said.

When walking or working in your yard, it is important to make sure that you have a full-footed shoe on each foot and that you pay close attention to where you are placing your feet and hands. If you are out hiking and run into a snake it is important to just leave the snake alone.

“Often a person is bitten because they have tried to catch a snake or they have tried to kill a snake. If a snake, especially a poisonous snake is not by your immediate home or yard then don’t even try to kill it,” Cook said. “The more interaction between you and the snake, the better chances you have of getting bitten and suffering from a painful treatment at the hospital.”

If bitten by a rattlesnake or any other snake that you think may be poisonous, the first step you need to take is get to a hospital as quickly as possible. If you have the opportunity to kill and collect the snake that you were bitten by, there is a much better chance of you getting the proper medical care for that particular bite.

“If you can bring in the snake, then the doctors can verify the type of snake bite that you have and can administer the proper anti-venom,” Cook said.