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Snakes in Paradise

Just ask Adam or Eve.  It happens.  Snakes occur all over the planet.  Seven species of venomous snakes occur in the Dallas Fort Worth area.  To keep things in the general range of reality, it should be noted the national average for fatal snakebites in the United States is only 2 per year. 

Also, a vast majority of bite victims are white males ages 18-25 who are capturing, handling or molesting a venomous snake.  Oftentimes alcohol or other drugs are involved.  While legitimate bites occur on occasion it should be noted that most snakebites are avoidable and are the fault of the bite victim. 

More people in the United States die from vending machines falling over on them (after being shaken), being struck by lightning, or due to an allergic reaction from an insect sting.  [SOURCE]  

 

Seven Venomous Snakes Occur in the DFW Area

The following linked items from the University of Texas at Arlington's Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center provide information regarding the three Venomous snakes that have been sighted in Garland.  Of them, to my knowledge, only the Copperhead has been sighted in the Garland Community Garden over the past four years.  However, the wooded area adjacent to the garden may be a different story.  Therefore, when you visit, stay out of the woods. 

Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)

Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorous)

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

*Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)

*Massasagua (Sisturus catenatus)

*Pigmy Rattlesnake (Sisturus miliarius)

*Texas Coral Snake (Micrurus tener)

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SAFETY TIPS FOR AVOIDING VENOMOUS SNAKE BITE

These tips are from the Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center at the University of Texas at Arlington—a reliable source. 

1. Do not attempt to capture or kill a venomous snake.

2. Do not attempt to capture or handle venomous snakes or any snake whose identity you are uncertain.

3. Wear shoes and appropriate clothing when walking through habitats in which snakes occur.

4. When hiking always pay attention to the ground and visually check logs, rocks, and other objects before stepping over them.

5. Watch where you place your hands and avoid placing your hands into rocky crevices, hollow logs, holes in the ground or any such location.

6. When lifting objects in places where venomous snakes occur, boards, logs or rocks should be moved with caution to avoid receiving a bite.

7. If you encounter a venomous snake in the wild leave it alone and move away.  SOURCE https://www.uta.edu/biology/herpetology/venomous_snakes_of_the_dallas_fo.htm

 

FIRST AID TIPS FOR SNAKE BITES

These tips are from the Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center at the University of Texas at Arlington

1. Do not try to kill or bring the venomous snake that bit the victim.  This can sometimes result in another bite!

2. Remain calm.  This is important as it allows for clearer thinking and lower blood pressure.

3. If bitten on the arm, hand, or fingers remove all jewelry, watches or long sleeved shirts.

4. DO NOT APPLY TOURNIQUETS OR CONSTRICTING BANDS.

5. DO NOT APPLY ICE TO THE BITE.

6. DO NOT CUT THE BITE AREA IN AN ATTEMPT TO REMOVE VENOM.

7. DO NOT APPLY ELECTRICITY TO THE BITE.

8. DO NOT GIVE THE VICTIM ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES OR ASPIRIN.

9. Keep the victim calm and seek immediate medical attention from a qualified physician.

The bite from a venomous snakes occurring in north Central Texas is an excruciating and painful experience.  However, it is important to remember that there is a high survival rate for venomous snake bites in the United States.

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After two sightings of Copperheads in the Garland Community Garden this spring, and after much discussion, we have decided to err on the side of caution and post the following sign in the area where most visitors enter the garden.  Copperheads are most active during the spring, early summer and late fall when the weather turns cooler.  During the hot dry months of summer and early fall they become almost entirely nocturnal.  Thus it’s a good idea to not wander in the garden after dark and in the very early hours of morning during the summer.

ADDED NOTE AFTER POSTING:   TWO COMMON SNAKE MYTHS:

 1.  Myth:  You can tell a snake is venomous if it has a triangular head.     
      fact:    Almost all snakes have triangular heads.

2.  Myth:  Venomous snakes have patterns.
     Fact:   Almost all snakes have patterns. For example, harmless snakes such as Garter snakes; Corn Snakes; and Milk Snakes all have patterns.

If you live in the DFW area and are interested in identifying the venomous snakes in our area, you would be better served by looking at photos of and reading up on Copperheads; Cottonmouths; Western Diamondbacks; Timber Rattlesnakes; Massasagua (a type of rattlesnake); Pigmy Rattlesnake and Texas Coral Snake.

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