On a hot Texas summer day, we humans love few things more than a dip in the pool or a cool drink of water. Guess what, we are not alone. When the weather turns hot and dry, Texas snakes go on the prowl for water, food and the company of others of their kind.

This year, with Texas in the midst of a record drought, the ponds and streams snakes depend on are drying up, sending some of the thirsty reptiles into our yards in search of relief.

Texas is home to numerous varieties of snakes including 15 venomous species or subspecies, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). That might seem like a lot, but keep in mind, each year more people are killed by lightning than by venomous snake bite.

Many non-venomous snakes have characteristics that mimic their more-dangerous cousins. It may be difficult to tell them apart. With that in mind, the best way to avoid running afoul of a snake’s business end is to stay clear.

There are several things you can do to make your home less inviting to snakes and to protect yourself from snakebite. Here are a few suggestions from TPWD.

  • Keep wood and brush piles as far as possible from the residence. Use caution when working in these areas. Never put an arm or leg into something if you cannot see the bottom.
  • Keep your lawn trimmed and be aware about any outdoor trash, food or water that might draw rodents or other small critters that snakes like to eat.
  • Look before you move through your garden. Those regular waterings might prove an enticing draw for snakes.
  • Keep storage areas and livestock sheds/barns as neat as possible. Treat tools and materials stored on the floor as possible snake shelters.
  • Treat overturned boats, tarps and similar objects as potential shelter for snakes moving through the area.
  • Remember that snakes are adept at finding their way through small openings. Keep this in mind when entering crawl spaces, garages, basements and similar areas.
  • Be careful where you put your hands and feet. Don’t reach or step until you see the bottom.
  • Never step over a log without first seeing what is on the other side. If you must move a log, use a long stick or garden tool first.
  • Use a flashlight when moving about, even in your yard at night.
  • Animal burrows make excellent habitat for snakes. Don’t reach in without checking first.
  • Wear protective clothing if you work in areas where you suspect snakes are nearby. Heavy footwear, pants and/or leggings will help reduce your risk.
  • Freeze when snakes are known to be nearby until you know where they are. Allow the snake to retreat. If you must move, back slowly and carefully away from the snake.
  • If you are bitten, stay calm and seek treatment immediately. Here are some suggestions for what to do if you or someone you know is bitten.

To learn more about Texas snakes including descriptions of venomous varieties, please click here.