By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
There have been rattlesnake and Texas coral snake sightings this fall in Four Points. Over the past several weeks, local families have come in close proximity with the venomous snakes.
“The day after (Four Points News’) post about the snakes in Santaluz, I walk out to find (a Texas coral snake) in my garage” said Kathy Hebdon, who lives in the Canyon Glen neighborhood of Steiner Ranch. It was caught on a sticky trap and still alive.
The prior week, the Wagner family, of the Santaluz neighborhood, found a western diamondback rattlesnake and Texas coral snake caught on a sticky trap in their garage.
“This is right by where my two children park their bikes every day,” stated Amy Wagner. She usually throws away sticky traps after the exterminator leaves, but this last one she forgot to pick up.
“Until we can find the source of the problem, we have sticky traps down and have since caught another rattlesnake. My childrens safety has to come first,” Wagner said.
Hebdon too is concerned for her pet’s safety.
“I’m just so worried about my dogs. And what to look for if they are attacked, how quick we need to respond,” Hebdon said.
The habits of the two venomous snakes are different and two local veterinarians explain how.
“Although coral snake are venomous and can cause death by respiratory paralysis, bites are less likely to occur compared to rattlesnakes,” said Frank Metzler, DVM at 2222 Veterinarian Clinic in River Place.
Coral snakes usually flee altercations. If they have to resort to biting, usually less venom is injected compared to the rattlesnake with one bite because coral snakes usually need to chew to ensure enough venom is injected, Metzler said.
Tamera Cole, DVM at the Animal Hospital at Steiner Ranch, agrees, adding that coral snakes have different head structure than the rattler.
“Coral snake fangs are much shorter and require several chewing motions to inject their venom. Sixty percent of coral snake bites are nonenvenomating,” Cole said.
If a coral snake bite does inject venom, the onset of clinical signs may be delayed for up to 18 hours and can take up to one or two weeks to clear the body, according to both vets.
If a pet is bitten, the venom is quite potent. Depending on the severity, the venom can cause paralysis, drooling, shortness of breath, inability to bark, diarrhea, convulsions, decreased reflexes, shock and death to respiratory paralysis, Metzler said.
“If there is any chance of a bite by a coral snake, the situation should be considered a medical emergency and the pet should be quickly taken to a veterinarian for immediate medical care,” he said.
Cole agrees, adding there is no antivenin for coral snake bites.
At the vet, the bite area will be cleaned thoroughly and a compression bandage applied. Hospitalization is needed for at least 48 hours. Blood and urine samples will be taken for testing and IV fluids will be administered, Cole said.
Coral snakes are relatively docile, but can respond aggressively if disturbed. “The best prevention of any snake bite is to keep pets on a leash to stop them from sticking their nose in where it shouldn’t be,” Cole said.