Texas Guide to Snake Season: What NOT to do when you see a snake

Posted at 12:52 PM, May 10, 2018
and last updated 2019-05-20 15:10:02-04

In Texas, there are two types of venomous snakes, pit vipers - which consist of copperheads, cottonmouths and rattlesnakes - and coral snakes. 

While about 7,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes annually in the United States, only about 0.2 percent of those bites result in death. The Texas Health and Human Services said that about half of all venomous snake bites are "dry," meaning that the snake doesn't inject venom into the victims. 

But be careful out there - you might even see them on the ceiling fan when you are dining out an outdoor bar because they are excellent climbers.

The Texas Guide to Snakes


There are four venomous snakes in Texas: coral snakes, copperheads, cottonmouths and rattlesnakes. 

Coral snakes are rarely seen according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. TPWD said coral snakes and milk snakes look very similar, but coral snakes are venomous. Both snakes have similar colors, but in different orders: coral snakes red and yellow colors touch, while milk snakes have red touching black. Remember the rhyme: red and yellow, kill a fellow. 

Copperheads are often found in heavily grassy areas and leaf-covered floors. The snakes blend into the environment outside and are bite rather than strike. These guys are so well camouflaged, you might not even they're there until they've already bitten you. 

Cottonmouths are also known as water moccasins and are rarely found away from water. TPWD describes these snakes as "muscular" and "stubby." When threatened, cottonmouths show their fangs. Cottonmouths are very defensive and can bite underwater. 

Rattlesnakes are found in all of Texas. There are nine kinds of rattlesnakes in the state: the Western diamondback lives in all corners of the state. The snakes will usually "rattle" before striking and are active at night. 


Everyone experiences snake venom differently. If bitten, you need to seek medical help immediately.

The Texas Health and Human Services said that some symptoms of snake bites include but are not limited to: 

  • blurred vision 
  • convulsions
  • excessive sweating</strong>
  • fainting
  • fang marks
  • fever
  • increased salivation 
  • localized pain and burning
  • muscle contractions 
  • muscle incoordination
  • nausea and vomiting
  • numbness and tingling
  • rapid pulse rate
  • skin discoloration
  • thirst
  • tissue death
  • swelling in the bite area
  • weakness

If someone is bitten by a snake, contact 911. If you're able to call ahead to the hospital, do so. You also need to be able to identify what kind of snake it was. Here's a list of what to do if someone you are with is bitten by a snake: 

  • Move the victim safely away from the snake
  • Do not attempt to capture the snake
  • Keep the victim and yourself calm
  • Remove jewelry or constricting clothing from the victim before any swelling begins
  • Lift the bitten limb so that it's level with the heart: do not lift it above heart level because it could hasten the distribution of venom
  • Limit movement of the bitten limb
  • Gently wash the bite wound with soap and water 
  • Call 911 immediately

Here's what to not do

  • Do not suck, or try to suck, the venom from the bite wound
  • Do nomake cuts over the snake bite
  • Do not apply a constricting device on the limb
  • Do not apply a cold pack or ice to the snake bite
  • Do not apply an electrical shock to the bite
  • Do not take any pain reliever or medication unless instructed 
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages
  • Do not administer antivenom in the field 


How can you prevent snakes? You can't. But there are ways to prevent snake bites! 

  • Don't handle or play with snakes unless you've been trained. 
  • Keep your landscape well kept. 
  • Wear long pants and boots when you are in areas where snakes are commonly found. 
  • Watch where you step and place your hands outdoors! 

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