3Reptiles and Snakes About Snakes Snakes are reptiles. Reptiles are cold-blooded, have skin covered with scales, and lay eggs. (Some snakes don't actually lay their eggs, but hold them inside until they hatch.) Snakes have no legs and no ears. Skilled predators, snakes help maintain the balance of nature by eating prey that reproduces frequently, everything from earthworms to rabbits. Snakes are especially important in the control of rodents such as mice and rats.
4Reptiles and Snakes Venomous Snakes in Texas Texas is home to around 115 species and subspecies of snakes. The 15 venomous snakes in Texas make up less than 15 percent of the total number of snakes in the state. They are separated into four categories:Coral snakesCopperheadsCottonmouths (Water moccasins)Rattlesnakes.
5Reptiles and Snakes Coral Snake Only one species of coral snake is native to Texas. Shy and rarely seen, it has, in order, brilliant red, yellow and black colors. (Other, harmless snakes have similar colors in a different order. The rhyme "red and yellow kill a fellow" has helped many remember that the coral snake's red and yellow colors touch, but the harmless milk snake's red and yellow don't touch.) The coral snake has a small mouth, and is usually non-aggressive. Its bites are dangerous, but extremely rare.
6Reptiles and Snakes What is a Pit Viper? A pit viper is a type of venomous snake. Copperheads, cottonmouths and rattlesnakes are called pit-vipers because they have a pit near each nostril which is highly sensitive to heat. This pit helps the snake in locating warm-blooded prey.
7Reptiles and Snakes Copperheads With their bands of gray and/or brown, the four subspecies of Texas copperheads are colored to blend in with leaf-covered forest floors. It's possible to stare right at a copperhead without seeing it. Fortunately, copperheads are the least dangerous poisonous snake. Because they are so well camouflaged, most bites occur when a snake is accidentally picked up or sat or laid on. Always use care when picking up or flipping over logs, boards, old tin or other items where copperheads may be resting.
8Reptiles and Snakes Cottonmouths The cottonmouth, or water moccasin, rarely strays far from water and can be found in marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes, ditches, and canals in East and Central Texas and along the Gulf coast. It is a stubby, muscular snake and can grow to nearly six feet. Moccasins can bite underwater. These snakes can be very defensive and sometimes aggressive. Swimmers, bathers and anglers on river banks should always keep an eye open for these snakes.
9Reptiles and Snakes Rattlesnakes Nine kinds of rattlesnakes are found in Texas, including the Desert Massasauga .Rattlesnakes usually "rattle" before striking, butif they are totally surprised, they may strike before rattling.
10Reptiles and SnakesSnake venom is saliva, a highly modified saliva, and is produced by modified saliva glands. It is a cocktail of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of different proteins and enzymes.
12Reptiles and Snakes Preventing Snake Bites Watching where you step, put your hands, or sit down is one of the best ways to prevent snake bites. Poisonous snakes live on or near the ground and often like rocks, wood piles and other spots that offer both a place to sun and a place to hide. Snakes avoid your huge body, but will definitely bite if stepped on or otherwise trapped. Most bites occur in and around the ankle. About 99 percent of all bites occur below the knee, except when someone accidentally picks up or falls on the snake.
13Reptiles and SnakesThe fangs of venomous snakes, though long and sharp, are relatively fragile and easily deflected or broken. These fangs usually don't penetrate canvas tennis shoes and almost never penetrate leather shoes or boots. Watching where you step and wearing boots in tall grass can prevent most snake bites.Snakes are not something to be feared, but rather a creature to be respected as a fascinating member of the outdoors.
14Reptiles and SnakesIt is important to remember that not every snake is venomous, and that, while the very mention of the word often sends chills up the spine of many people, snakes do have an important role in our Texas ecosystem.Their contribution in controlling rodents can hardly be understated!
15Reptiles and SnakesEqually important is an understanding that envenomation is a defensive mechanism for the snake - snakes do not sit in the grass waiting for the unfortunate human to come by. Nor do they pursue or hunt humans. Bites are usually a result of the snake being surprised or cornered, or from someone handling snakes.
16Safety Around the HomeSnakes in general, occur around a home for the specific purposes of seeking food and shelter. Keeping these things in mind provides us with guidelines to help prevent snakebite around the home.
17Safety Around the HomeKeep wood piles, brush piles, trash dumps and livestock pens as far as possible from the residence. When working in these areas, exercise caution. Never put an arm or leg into something if you can not see the bottom.Keep storage areas and barns as neat as possible. Treat materials stored on the floor as possible snake shelters. Treat overturned boats, tarps and similar objects as potential shelter for transient snakes moving through the area.
18Safety Around the HomeRemember snakes are adept at finding their way through small openings. Keep this in mind when entering crawl spaces, basements, garages and similar areas.
19Safety in the FieldSince venomous snakes are common in the rural areas of Texas, it is important for ranchers, hunters, rural residents, outdoor enthusiasts and other that frequent these areas to exercise caution.Be careful where you put your hands and feet - don't reach or step until you can see the bottom.Never step over a log without first seeing what is on the other side. If you must move a log - use a long stick or garden tool first, to ensure snakes are neither under, on or around these favored habitats.
20Safety in the Field Use a flashlight when moving about, even in your home yard, at night.Animal burrows make excellent habitat for snakes - don't reach in without first checking.Wear protective clothing if working in areas where you suspect snakes nearby. Heavy footwear, snake proof trousers and/or leggings will help reduce your risk.Freeze when snakes are known to be nearby until you know where they are. Allow the snake to retreat. If you must move, back slowly and carefully away from the snake.
21First AidFirst Aid for snake bites can prevent disability, disfigurement or death if it is applied effectively. The recommendations have changed drastically over the years, and remaining informed on effective first aid should be a priority of everyone working in snake habitat.Assume envenomation has occurred even before symptoms appear.
22First AidIdentify the species of venomous snake with care. This could help with the medical treatment but will complicate the situation if we have more than one victim.Keep the victim and yourself as calm as possible.Know and treat for any symptoms of shock.Wash the bite area with a disinfectant soap.Remove restrictive clothing/jewelry in the area of the bite.Prevent movement of the bitten extremity.Get medical attention as soon as possible.Under no circumstances should you cut between the punctures, or suck the venom out or apply electric shock.
23First Aid Decide how serious the bite is by considering: The age, size and general health of the patient. A small child or elderly individual will probably react much more severely than a regular adult.. The depth, location and number of bites. A single, glancing blow by the fangs is much less dangerous than multiple wounds or wounds that penetrate the flesh deeply. A bite that penetrates a blood vessel is extremely dangerous.The least dangerous bites occur on the extremities and in fatty tissue. Bites on the head or trunk are usually fatal.
24First Aid The duration of the bite. The longer the bite, the greater the amount of venom that may be injected.Clothing. A snake that bites through several layers of clothing will not leave as much venom as a snake that strikes bare skin. Maturity, type, and size of the snake. Small snakes usually do not produce enough venom to seriously harm an adult.
25First AidCondition of the fangs and venom sacs. More venom will be injected if the fangs and venom sacs are in good condition. How angry or fearful a snake is. More venom will be injected if the snake is angry or fearful.
26Preventing Snake Bites USEFUL TIPS TO REMEMBER:1. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don't just blindly wander through woods, weeds, trails, bushes, and the like.2. Avoid specific snake habitats like brush piles, debris mounds, logjams, root systems, abandoned buildings, watery areas, "cover" in general. Remember, they may be anywhere else also!3. Wear leather shoes or boots at least ankle high or better when walking in suspected snake country.4. Never sit or climb (feet and hands), or step over obstacles anywhere without first looking carefully prior to taking the move.
27Preventing Snake Bites 5. Observation is critical to avoidance - learn to check around with a sweeping glance for anything that seems out of place, for this may be your subconscious notice of a camouflaged critter lurking close by.6. Near water of any kind, be aware that many species "hang out" there and will likely be quite hidden from view while they are sleeping or hunting - just be more alert.
28Preventing Snake Bites 7. Remember that snakes have needs for shelter, water, and food basically in that order just to survive, so be aware of these "needs" and be alert when these are especially present in any combination.8. Try not to stalk along quietly as snakes have many sensing devices to warn them of your presence - let these work freely with noise, movements, etc. and thus not make the snake think it may be the target of a predator when it would need to become more aggressive!
29Preventing Snake Bites 9. Take a pet along on outings since these animals have a much more effective set of senses when it comes to snakes - a point guard is often a good confidence builder and may serve as a beneficial warning.10. When a snake is spotted, leave it alone! So many bite victims have chosen to hit the snake or try to catch it. Remember, where there is one, there are likely others! Be alert!
30Preventing Snake Bites 11. Learn more about snakes in the area where you live or play so that you better understand their capabilities and behaviors.12. Learn basic snakebite first aid. Prepare yourself and always expect the unexpected..13. Be in tune with your environment - know that most critters, including snakes, try to avoid human contact. Practice skills that make you more aware of what is happening and what critical conditions are present as you move through the fields and streams.
31Gila MonstersGila monster Our largest native US lizard comes in a gaudy color but is surprisingly hard to find. It spends over 98% of its time underground or at its den entrance. Though shy, the gila monster has a bad bite and clamps down with a tenacious hold. Venom is chewed in through groovesin rear teeth of the lower jaw. Though it packs a powerful nerve toxin, most prey are killed by the bite, not the venom.
32Gila MonstersGila monsters are listed as a threatened species, and state laws protect them throughout their US range.On an interesting note, a component of Gila monster venom called Exendin-4 is currently being investigated as a promising new drug to treat type 2 diabetes. This peptide stimulates secretion of insulin in the presence of elevated blood glucose levels.It also has the effect of slowing gastric emptying. Phase I clinical studies have recently begun with this exciting investigational drug.
33RodentsRodentsRodents can carry a variety of diseases and behave in ways that are likely to contaminate food and water. Keep all food and snacks stored in impenetrable containers.
35Insect Bites/Stings INSECT BITES Insect bites and stings are common, and most are considered minor. It is only when the insect is poisonous or when the patient has an allergic reaction and runs the risk of developing anaphylactic shock that the situation becomes an emergency. Even under those conditions, accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment can save lives and prevent permanent tissue damage.
36Insect Bites/StingsThe normal reaction to an insect sting is a sharp, stinging pain followed by an itchy, swollen, painful raised area.The swelling may be there for several days but usually goes away within 24 hours. Local reactions are rarely serious or life-threatening and can be treated with cold compresses.
37Insect Bites/StingsThe stinging insects that most often cause allergic reactions belong to a group of the hymenoptera, the insects with membranous wings.These include bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets. Stings from wasps and bees are the most common.
38Insect Bites/StingsBees have a barbed stinger at the base of their abdomen which carries their venom. The bee forces the tip of the stinger through the skin of the victim and leaves the stinger, poison sack and attached muscle in the victim's skin. It may take hundreds of bee stings to inflict a fatal toxic dose of venom in a healthy adult.However, one sting can cause a fatal anaphylactic (allergic) reaction in a hypersensitive person.
39Insect Bites/StingsOnly worker-honeybees can sting. The sting of the honeybee has only a defensive use. What is more, it is not possible for the insect to tear it out of the skin. It remains there with a part of the guts, so the honeybee dies. The poison is called apitoxin and is actually a colorless, limpid, bitter liquid with a pleasant smell. Its effects were known in the past as a successful method of healing rheumatism.
40Insect Bites/Stings AFRICANIZED HONEY BEES Africanized honey bees were imported to Brazil in 1956 to enhance honey production in the tropics. Some of the bees escaped into the wild and have gradually moved towards North America.They are the temperamental cousin of the more common European honey bee. They often are called "killer bees", but in reality their stings are less potent and painful than the common bee sting. They defend their nesting sites very aggressively, sometimes stinging their victims hundreds of times.
41Insect Bites/Stings What to do if you are attacked: Run as quickly as you can away from the bees. Do not flail or swing your arms at them, as this may further annoy them. Because bees target the head and eyes, cover your head as much as you can without slowing your escape. Get to the shelter or closest house or car as quickly as possible. Don't worry if a few bees become trapped in your home. If several bees follow you into your car, drive about a quarter of a mile and let the bees out of the car.
42Insect Bites/Stings Wasps The wasp itself is a “vegetarian” but the larvae feed only on insects and arachnids. Therefore, “as a loving mother”, it is forced to hunt. The neurotoxin cannot cause death but it can lead to a clinical picture equal to the one of a honeybee sting. Wasp stings are more dangerous as a rule. It is important to notice that the sting rarely remains in the skin and the wasp usually flies away freely.
43Insect Bites/Stings Preventive measures: Destroy all nests around your living placeKeep your feet covered outdoorsAvoid bright colored clothing/perfumery productsPrefer to wear tight rather than loose clothingWhen you encounter the insect, stand still or retreat slowly. If it lands on skin, quickly brush it off. Use a personal first aid kit in individuals with a history of allergy
44Insect Bites/StingsRemember that wasps usually only sting when provoked, and having wasps around your home and garden can actually be an excellent way to naturally control pests.A single wasp can remove as many as 225 insects an hour from your home or garden!
45Insect Bites/Stings Black Widow Spider The black widow is a spider with a shiny black body, thin legs and an hourglass shaped red/white mark on its abdomen. The female is much larger than the male and is one of the largest spiders in the United States. Males generally do not bite. Females bite only when hungry, agitated or protecting the egg sac. The black widow is not aggressive. They are usually found in dry, secluded, dimly lit areas. More than percent of all bite victims are adult men.
46Insect Bites/StingsBlack widow spider bites are the leading cause of death from spider bites in the United States. The venom is 14 times more toxic than rattlesnake venom.It is a neurotoxin that causes little local reaction but does cause pain and spasms in the larger muscle groups of the body within 30 minutes to three hours. Severe bites can cause respiratory failure, coma and death.
47Insect Bites/Stings Brown Recluse Spider The bite of the brown spider is a serious medical condition. The bite is non-healing and causes tissue death. Sometimes surgery is necessary.The bite causes only a mild stinging sensation if any at all. Victims often are unaware they have been bitten. Several hours after the bite, the following signs and symptoms begin to result:
48Insect Bites/StingsA small white area appears surrounded by a margin of redness, which may produce a mild itching pain.A blister appears surrounded by mild swelling and redness.A "bulls-eye" or "target" lesion develops.There may be fever, chills, rash, hives, nausea and pain in the joints over the next few days.The target lesion will enlarge over the next few days and produce extensive tissue death. There is no anti-venom. The lesion will have to be soaked in antiseptic and possibly antibiotics. Surgery may be necessary to cut out the dead tissue.
50Insect Bites/Stings Scorpions There are many species of scorpions, but only one is potentially lethal. This is the bark scorpion. It is one of the smaller species being one to one and a half inches long. It prefers places dark and cool, woodpiles, palm trees, decorative bark. The severity of the stingdepends on the amount of venom injected but scorpion stings can be fatal. Ninety percent of all scorpion stings occur on the hands.
51Insect Bites/StingsWhen innocent bites go bad. Not all bug bites are harmless. If someone in your family has had a bad reaction to a bee or wasp sting, for example, it's a good idea to keep an emergency kit available. (Your dermatologist can tell you what to put in the kit.)It's possible for a person to die from a severe reaction to an insect sting.
52Insect Bites/Stings Fire Ants Anyone who has lived in the South during the summer months has already had the unpleasant experience of being stung by fire ants. Fire ants are here to stay, but you don't have to put up with them in your yard or house.
53Insect Bites/StingsAnts are tiny insects and their size varies from 3mm to 3 cm. They are mostly drab colored - rusty, brown, black, and some can be yellow, green, purple or blue. Ants have a large head and a slender, oval abdomen joined to the thorax or midsection, by a small waist. The antennae are elbowed.
54Insect Bites/StingsAddiction? Did you know that certain birds become “addicted” to ant poison? They sit on an ant-hill and let the ants crawl onto them. At that time, the bird loosens its wings, stares and looks ecstatic.The biological reason for this phenomenon is the insecticide effect of the ants’ formic acid, protecting from parasites.
55Insect Bites/StingsThe activities of ants occasionally bring them into conflict with humans. Some tropical ants, such as the Army ants and Driver ants, as well as the Australian bulldog-ant can cause painful wounds. The Fire ant sting leaves pus-filled, itchy bump that is easily infected. Ant envenomation may be very serious even fatal in some individual cases. Apart from the swelling, rash, facial edema and wheezing, life threatening systemic reactions such as shock, apnea, cardiac arrest and death may occur in allergic persons.
57Insect Bites/Stings Signs/Symptoms of an allergic reaction include: Burning pain and itching at the bite siteItching on the palms and soles of the feetItching on the neck and the groinGeneral body swellingA nettle-like rash over the entire bodyDifficulty breathingFaintness, weaknessNauseaShockUnconsciousness
58Insect Bites/Stings Interesting Facts About Ants Queen ants in captivity have been known to live as long as 20 yrs.Ants hate vinegar.Some ants have eyes, some don't.There is only one general in an army ant column...a queen.South American soldier ants march about a mile every 3 hours.Ants (and man) are the only animals that wage war in battle formations.Ants follow an ant trail. If it intersects with itself to complete a circle, they may walk in that circle until they fall dead. Ants don't foresee.Only female ants can sting.Ants hate termites. Termites hate ants.
59Insect Bites/StingsOne of the greatest economic impacts and dangers posed by the red imported fire ant results from short circuits and fires in electrical systems after fire ants move into circuit breakers, relays, motors, and other electrical devices. Why the ants are drawn to them is still something of a mystery, but researchers at Texas Tech are close to providing some methods for protecting electrical systems from these problem ants.
60Insect Bites/StingsBeing aware of your surroundings at all times is the way to avoid everything from car wrecks to rattlesnake bites. If fire ants do crawl onto your skin, they first bite with their mandibles in order to anchor for the thrust of the sting. As soon as you feel this pinching sensation, quickly sweep the ants off before they actually sting and you can avoid most of the damage! If you must work in proximity to fire ants, wear rubber boots and gloves powered with talc.
61Insect Bites/StingsSome bug bites can cause bacterial infections (like impetigo). People with impetigo usually notice honey-colored, crusty patches that show up after they start scratching. Severe itching can also cause skin ulcers, scars, changes in skin color, swelling, allergic reactions, and thickened skin.Some insects (ticks, for example) can cause serious illnesses, like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Many Northern, mid-Atlantic, and Western states are home to deer herds, and the ticks they carry.
62Insect Bites/Stings Ticks Each summer, new cases of tick-borne illnesses like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and Ehrlichiosis surge in the United States. Hot zones for tick trouble include the Northeastern and Southeastern states, as well as parts of the Midwest, Texas, and California. Almost anywhere ticks lurk, however, you could find yourself in trouble.
63Insect Bites/StingsAlthough it is best to have any tick bite examined by a doctor, this is especially true if a rash more than an inch wide appears at the site of a bite. It could be a sign of Lyme disease. If you develop flu-like symptoms any time within a month after being bitten, it's also important to see a physician. The symptoms could be a sign of Ehrlichiosis, another serious tick-borne disease.
64Insect Bites/StingsHow to keep the bugs away. Here are some ways to keep bugs from biting you.When you're outside, DO…Make sure your picnic area is screened in.Use insect repellent candles or electric bug "zappers."Wear a hat outdoors to cover your hair.Wear light-colored clothing that's snug at the wrist and ankles.Keep garbage cans closed and clean.
65Insect Bites/StingsWear long pants and tuck the legs into socks or boots. Some experts recommend putting tape around the area where pants and socks meet for added protection.Consider spraying insect repellent containing DEET on clothes.Stick to the middle of hiking trails to avoid brushing against leaves or grasses where ticks lie in wait.
66Insect Bites/StingsWipe off sweat as soon as possible. (It attracts insects.)If you've been swimming, shake out your towels and clothes before you use them.Use DEET repellents!Keep emergency department and poison control center phone numbers handy (and a kit if any family member is seriously allergic to stings).
67Insect Bites/Stings When you're outside, DON'T… Wear perfume, perfumed sun lotions, or hair spray.Wash with scented soaps, creams, or cosmetics.Wear dark-colored clothes.Go near rotting fruit (like apples that have fallen from trees) in picnic areas.Kick or move logs.Wear jewelry or shiny buckles.
68Insect Bites/StingsHow much DEET do you need? If you're spending a couple of hours in the yard, try an insect repellent that's 10% to 30% DEET. If you're going camping or taking a long hike, you may need to use a repellent that's 40% to 50% DEET. Two tablespoons should be sufficient to cover the arms, legs, and face of the average adult. Note: Kids shouldn't use more than 10% DEET at any time.
69Insect Bites/StingsOnce you get home, inspect yourself carefully. Use a mirror to check difficult-to-observe parts of your body.If you find a tick, don't panic. Removing it quickly can help prevent the transmission of disease. Forget the advice about using a lighted match or cigarette to force the tick to back out. Covering it with Vaseline doesn't work, either.Instead, grasp the tick with fine tweezers as close to your skin as possible, and pull straight out. Then clean the area with a disinfectant.
70SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION A Tick Bite (Do Not Remove Tick) Insect Bites/StingsSEEK MEDICAL ATTENTIONIF YOU YOU HAVE:An Unusual BiteA Tick Bite (Do Not Remove Tick)Multiple Bites