Although there is no central data source for snake bites, veterinary hospitals and clinics observe that snake bite occurrences increase during spring and summer. So before we get busy with our spring breaks and summer getaways, let us educate ourselves first on how we can avoid our beloved pooches from getting bitten by snakes.
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Get to Know the Culprit
There are various types of poisonous snakes seen in the US. Getting yourself familiar with them can help you decide which steps to take when something happens to Fido.
Read: Snake Bites And Dogs
Size: When adult they are moderately sized snakes, normally reaching 2–4 feet, with thick, heavy bodies.
Range: Found in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
Also found in Mexico – in Chihuahua and Coahuulia.
Habitat: Wooded areas, among rocks and near streams or ponds. Their favorite hiding places include stone walls, sawdust, garden mulch or compost piles, under decaying stumps, in wood piles, under abandoned building debris and under large flat stones.
Weather: Stays hidden during the day of summer and becomes active at night.
Read: Copperhead Snakes
Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin)
Size: Adults commonly exceed 80 cm (31.5 in) in length, females grow smaller than males.
Range: Found in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Central and Eastern Nebraska, Southern New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
Habitat: Creams, streams, marshes, swamps and other similar bodies of water. They are not limited to aquatic habitats though. They also thrive in less-moist environment such as palmetto thickets, pine-palmetto forest, pine woods and flatwoods, eastern deciduous forest, dune and beach areas.
Read: Agkistrodon piscivorus
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Size: 5.5 ft (1.7 m). Some reach 8 feet (2.4 meters) in length and weigh up to 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms).
Range: Southeastern of United States
Habitat: Dry, pine flatwoods, sandy woodlands and coastal scrub habitats from Southern Carolina to Florida and west to Louisiana.
Size: 3-4.5 feet (91-137 cm) or more in length.
Range: From southern New Hampshire south through the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia and west to southwestern Wisconsin and northeastern Texas. They are also found in isolated populations in southeastern New York, the SOuthern Tier and in the peripheral eastern Adirondacks.
Habitat: Deciduous forests in rugged terrain.
Weather: In the summer, gravid (pregnant) females seem to prefer open, rocky ledges where temperatures are higher, while the males and non-gravid females seem to prefer cooler, thicker woods where the forest canopy is more closed.
Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake
Size: Average adult size is 12-24 inches (30-61 cm), record is 31 inches (79 cm). This is a small snake, but thick for its size.
Range: The Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake occurs throughout Florida, excluding the Florida Keys. Outside of Florida, it occurs north to eastern North Carolina and west to eastern Texas and southern Missouri.
Habitat: Common in lowland pine flatwoods, prairies, around lakes and ponds, and along the borders of many freshwater marshes and cypress swamps. Possibly the habitat in which Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnakes are most frequently encountered, at least in southern Florida, is the banks of canals running through marshes and prairies.
Read: Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake
Eastern Coral Snake
Size: Average adult size is 20-30 inches (51-76 cm), record is 47.5 inches (121 cm).
Range: The Eastern Coral Snake occurs throughout Florida, south into the Upper Florida Keys. Outside of Florida, it is found north to southeastern North Carolina and west to eastern Texas and northeastern Mexico.
Habitat: This species occupies a variety of habitats, from dry, well–drained flatwoods and scrub areas to low, wet hammocks and the borders of swamps. They are quite secretive and are usually found under debris and in the ground, but occasionally they are found in the open, and have even been seen climbing the trunks of live oaks. Good numbers of them are turned up when pine flatwoods are bulldozed, particularly in southern Florida.
Read: Eastern Coral Snake
What to Do
After your dog has been bitten, you can’t just watch him suffer in pain or worse, capture the snake and beat it due to anger. Any sane person knows that snake bites are an emergency situation hence you need to take your pet to the vet immediately. The main reason why we listed the types of snakes commonly associated with bites is for you to identify and describe them to the vet. With this, appropriate treatment can be given without delay.
You also need to thoroughly check your dog noting that there might be more than one wound. If it will take time to travel to the vet’s clinic, it is best to wrap the affected body part (above the wound) with a constricting band to slow down the spread of venom.
- Keep your dog on leash when walking. This way, it will be easier for you to control your dog when opportunity presents itself. You may want to leave the snake alone but most dogs wouldn’t so keeping them on leash is the best prevention device.
- Stay on open paths and avoid off-trail hiking as well as high grass and rocky outcrops.
- Jack Russell Terriers have natural instinct to explore or dig holes in the ground if they sense something. However, you must not allow your pet from doing that especially when you are in potential snake habitats.
- Minimize night walks since lots of snakes are nocturnal.