Don’t Get Rattled
Of all the critters that skitter in Texas, nothing makes the heart race faster than the slithering kind. Believe it or not, the snakes you spot are likely more afraid of you than you are of them.
Snakes fear humans. To them, we probably appear to be large, noisy animals that may harm them or try to eat them. When a snake is confronted by a large animal, it usually tries to hide or escape.
It’s when snakes can’t hide or escape that their behavior can seem threatening. When cornered, they may stand their ground hissing, rattling their tail (rattles or not) and generally trying to look dangerous and unpalatable.
This acting job has worked wonders considering how many people are afraid of them. However, the reality is that most Texas snakes aren’t dangerous; of 105 kinds (species and subspecies) statewide, 15 are venomous to humans. But, whether the snakes are harmless or not, most folks don’t welcome the sight of one and aren’t quite sure what they should do if they see one.
It’s more a matter of what you shouldn’t do: Don’t let yourself get rattled.
The best way to keep a snake from overreacting is not to overreact yourself. Instead, step back slowly until a space at least the length of its body is between the two of you. Then, tiptoe away. If you hear a rattlesnake rattling, make sure you know where the snake is before you move.
Venomous snakes in Texas, with the exception of the coral snake (Micrurus spp.), are pit vipers: cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus), rattlesnakes (Crotalus spp. and Sistrurus spp.) and copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix).
These snakes locate prey with one of the most sensitive and sophisticated infrared [heat] receptor systems on earth. A slow-motion response is particularly important around them.
Wear boots and long pants and walk slowly, steadily and methodically when in snake country. Watch your step and don’t put your hands or feet where you can’t see them.