MEXIA, TX — A Mexia mom's instincts kicked in when her youngest child pulled out a toy from an outside bin. It had been tipped over for a few days because of rain, and when they checked it again, a not so friendly visitor was there.
The second her son pulled the toy out she knew she should check for snakes, but she was still shocked to find one in the bin.
"It scared me because I haven't, its the first one we've seen around here and the first one we've had a close encounter with so I wasn't expecting it," said Courtney Spath, mom of seven children.
The snake they found, earlier this month, was a venomous southern copperhead. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the kids were still curious.
Spath used this incident as a teaching lesson for her kids.
"We just teach our kids to not run through big piles of leaves here because that's another place they like to hide," Spath said.
When asked, her kids suggested to always watch where you're stepping, pray for a safe time and wear shoes. It's really hard to tell the difference between a venomous and a non-venomous snake, so the best thing experts say to do is to leave it alone.
"A lot of times those animals are out trying to find mates or looking for shelter or going out and looking for food at those times," said Brian Henley, Care Supervisor of reptiles and amphibians at Cameron Park Zoo.
To help identify a venomous snake, you may remember the saying, "red touch yellow kill a fellow, red touch black friends with Jack." This is a saying to help tell the difference between a coral and milk snakes, but that saying might not always work in your favor.
"There are red touch yellow snakes that are non-venomous that live a little southwest of here in Texas," Henley said. "And coral snakes, their color is not always red touch yellow kill a fellow."
Snakes usually like the cooler temperatures around April, May, September and October, but they can pop up throughout the summer as well.
If you find a snake, Henley suggests calling your local animal control or even the zoo because killing it isn't the best for them or you. Snakes eat rats and mice if they're around, meaning they're keeping those guys out of your home. If you do try to get close, you could be bitten by the snake.
Spath found her southern copperhead in the beginning of July, and she doesn't let her toy bin be tipped over anymore.
"If it gets knocked over we're going to pick it up quickly and I'm kind of a little bit more cautious when I look inside stuff," Spath said.