By KIM ESTES, Four Points News
A lecture on snake awareness recently drew a large crowd at VIK Medical at River Place, where family practice physician, Dr. Brad Lichtenhan, talked about differentiating snakes and snakebite treatments.
Snakes are a big concern in Four Points and there have been news reports of snakebites recently. Lichtenhan taught how to identify venomous and non-venomous snakes native to the area.
With exception of the coral snake, serpents with elliptical-shaped pupils, triangular heads and ‘pits’ on the sides of their heads may identify snakes as venomous.
The coral snake may be differentiated from its non-venomous counterpart, the milk snake, by the order of the banded stripes. In the coral snake, red bands touch yellow bands, whereas in the milk snake, red bands touch black bands, said Lichtenhan.
He also dispelled some myths, such as baby snakes are more dangerous than adult ones.
Regarding snakebite treatment, tourniquets are ill advised, as is sucking out venom or soaking the affected area in ice. These first-aid techniques have led to unnecessary loss of limbs and do not improve outcomes. The best response is to keep the victim calm and get them to an emergency room as soon as possible, according to Lichtenhan.
He stressed that making homes and yards an undesirable habitat for snakes will also reduce the chances of intrusion. This means keeping lawns trimmed and clearing out wood and brush piles or building materials that may accumulate. Always look before reaching under porches or into bushes, said Lichtenhan.
Finally, he suggested leaving non-venomous snakes alone. King snakes are valuable for eating venomous snakes. If there are a few harmless snakes in the neighborhood, the result is less food for the venomous snakes, hence, less of them will be around, he said.
Bartlett Real Estate of Keller Williams co-sponsored the snake lecture event and this was the second snake awareness event hosted by the group this spring.