Fort Worth

Snakes are on the move, thanks to a wet spring. If you find one, what should you do?

If a snake slithers along the side of your house or is hiding somewhere in the yard, it shouldn’t be too surprising.

The wet weather has them on the move around homes, yards and other outdoor areas where humans can come in contact with them.

“It’s finally warm enough,” said Vicky Poole, the Fort Worth Zoo’s assistant curator of ecotherms. “Snakes have had a couple of good meals. The rains are causing them to get out — they’re active, they’re searching for food. And once they get a little bit of food in them it will be breeding season.”

What should you do if you encounter one?

“I advocate a healthy respect for snakes,” Poole said. “Snakes want nothing to do with humans.”

Texas Health Resources said 42 people have gone to the emergency departments at its hospitals across Dallas-Fort Worth this year with snakebites. The numbers include both venomous and non-venomous bites.

Activity has picked up the last two months with with 17 snakebites in April and 12 in May.

Worldwide, snakebites are a much more serious issue.

On Thursday the World Health Organization announced plans to bolster anti-venoms and ancillary medical care for snakebite victims. It is a concern in tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania and Latin America, the World Health Organization said.

Locally, snakes serve an important role in the North Texas ecosystem. The Texas rat snake is an example of a non-venomous snake that is highly beneficial for controlling the rodent population, Poole said.

“I’m a big advocate for snakes,” Poole said. “They maintain population control for rodents and bugs. Sometimes, those rodents can carry a disease that can be harmful.”

At the Fort Worth Zoo’s MOLA (Museum of Living Art), guests can touch snakes .

“Children will just walk up to them,” Poole said. “They’re fascinated. It’s usually a mom or a grandma who warns them that ‘you don’t know what that is.’ One of the first things I try to do is let these kids to learn these things on their own but teach that respect as well.”

When working in the yard, use a broom or other yard tool to check under a pile of leaves or beneath a log.

And if you find one?

“Let them go on their way,” Poole said.

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