Thursday, July 23, 2009

Early drought sends snakes into backyards

By Jeremy Desel / 11 News

HOUSTON – The number of snakebites are up in Houston this summer. Experts say it could be due to the lack of rain.

Video: Snakes in the City

Early drought sends snakes into backyards
July 22, 2009 View larger E-mail Clip More Video "We are having weekly calls. Daily calls. We are seeing calls on a regular basis," said Clint Pustejovsky of Texas Snakes and More.

The calls are for snakes such as the water moccasin, which is technically a cottonmouth.

"They are looking for places to hide,” Pustejovsky said. "You could spend three to five days in the hospital from a bite from a cottonmouth."

Normally, this would not be a concern for residents, but this year things are different. According to Pustejovsky, the early drought has sent snakes out looking for food and water.

“They are looking for a place to get something to eat and drink, which happens to be most people’s backyards," said Pustejovsky.

Cottonmouths aren’t the only snakes people are finding. There is also the Eastern Hognose.

“It’s often mistaken for the cottonmouth," said Pustejovsky. "It’s highly aggressive acting, but all that it wants to do is get away."

The blotched water snake is another one. But even though it likes to bite, it’s harmless compared to the cottonmouth.

"When the snakes get out of remote places there are consequences. Several area hospitals report the number of snakebite cases is up between 25 and 50 percent this year," said Pustejovsky.

There are only four types of venomous snakes in the area. Cottonmouths are the most potent, but even those snakes Clint returns to the wild.

"These animals have a purpose. Cottonmouths are known for eating road kill. They are known for eating mice and rats. Both of those are a problem," said Pustejovsky.

It seems this summer, snakes have become a problem too, which is why Pustejovsky keeps his hook, tongs and buckets ready for the next call.

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