As weather warms, watch for snakes underfoot - - Texoma news, weather and sports

As weather warms, watch for snakes underfoot

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GRAYSON COUNTY, Texas -- They're not the most popular creature around, but snakes could soon start to make their way to your backyard thanks to our recent spring-like weather. 

"Pets are naturally curious, so cats, dogs, things of that nature... they go outside, snakes are coming out of their dens as things start to warm up," explained Paul Balkenbush of the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.

Austin College professor Dr. Steve Goldsmith said there are many types of snakes across Texoma, but there are four main species that are venomous.

"The copperheads are probably the most dangerous because they are so cryptically colored," he said. "People and pets can step on them without even seeing them."

Veterinarians and shelters in the area tell us they do see more snake bites this time of year.

"A lot of snake bites -- when they do occur -- it's because the individual didn't see the venomous snake before it bit them," Balkenbush said.

But experts say there are ways to avoid bites, including keeping your pets on a leash.

"Enjoy them at a distance; don't try to feed them, hold them, touch them... just let them go on about their business doing what they're doing," Balkenbush advised.

And if you do happen upon a snake?

"Picking up a piece of firewood off the ground... there was a copperhead right there," Goldsmith said. "They're not aggressive, so it didn't try to bite me. I just left it alone."

He adds that even though snakes might not make it to your Top 10 list of outdoor creatures, they are essential to the environment.

"Snakes are an important part of the economy of nature," Goldsmith said. "As predators, they help to control insect and rodent population."

Texas Parks and Wildlife offers an online guide to venomous snakes found around the state.

You can print out an Introduction to the Snakes of Oklahoma from the OSU Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.

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