Tread carefully: Snakes are out again in Texas as temperatures rise

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Tread carefully: Snakes are out again in Texas as temperatures rise

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While news of rattlesnakes and the like being seen around Galveston Island seems to be cause for alarm, it doesn’t mean humans and the slithery sort can’t coexist.

A KTRK-TV story this week warned locals about a series of rattlesnake sightings around Galveston Island. As the weather warms up and more families visit the island, the native wildlife gets more exposure.

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But the encounters between people and snakes doesn’t always need to end with a dead snake. Texas is home to over 115 different species and subspecies of snakes, but only about 15 of those are potentially harmful to humans.

So, you think you know a few things about snakes? Well, we’re confident that you don’t know these random snake ”facts“. Watch and learn a thing or two. Credit: Various via Storyful

Media: Storyful

To most people averse to snakes, all snakes are dangerous. That is, in fact, false. Snakes in general get a bad rap and have historically had very bad PR.

Encounters with rattlesnakes usually occur around rural buildings and beneath piles of unused lumber. Rattlesnakes also are common along Texas’ coastal areas, especially underneath driftwood.

They also make their homes inside sand dunes, hence the sign that warn visitors to not traipse through the sandy hills. Dunes are also official habitats, so it’s doubly wrong to go inside them.

Looking where you are walking, especially in areas like this, is recommended. Snakes of all kinds for the most part will slither the other way unless they feel threatened.

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials continue to advise Texans to avoid rocks, holes and crevices you can’t look into or behind. Most importantly, outdoorsy types must "look before you reach down."

TPWD has a handy online guide to the snakes that call Texas home. The Lone Star State has two different groups of rattlesnakes: the western massasauga and the desert massasauga.

While for some the only solution for a snake encounter is a swift thrust from a shovel or machete, TPWD reiterates on its website that they do play a key role in the balance of nature.

"We have wiped out great numbers of individuals due to fear, anger, sadism, greed, fun, desire for their hides, or to a lesser extent, for food," TPWD writes. "Of course, snakes are not our only victims, other animals suffer too. But because of widespread human aversion, snakes have been singled out and targeted as bad animals and have been persecuted beyond all reason."

If you are scared of them, trying moving to Ireland, Newfoundland or New Zealand where they do not exist.

Craig Hlavaty is a reporter for Chron.com and HoustonChronicle.com.

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