These late October days, with cool mornings and sunny afternoons, are great days to go outside. Problem is, these are also great days for snakes to go outside.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples says Texas is home to several dozen different varieties of snakes, and, lucky us, most of them live around here.
"We have snaked in all 254 counties in the Lone Star State," Staples said. "Central Texas boasts the largest number of snake species."
During the hot summer, snakes burrow deep into the ground, mainly in search of water. During the winter, snakes hibernate. But October is the busiest month of the year for snakes, because they are out there pigging out on insects and rodents, bulking up for that long sleep ahead.
Staples says there are about a thousand reported cases of venomous snake bites in the state each year, but, thanks to the availability of anti venoms, the death rate is low.
"Sadly, one or two people die from snake bites in Texas each year," Staples said. "But let's just say that you are a lot more likely to die from being hit by lightning, than by being bit by a snake."
Staples says about 15% of the snakes found in Texas are poisonous, but some of those, like the Texas coal snake, are monsters. Packed with venom, the Coral Snake is one of the most poisonous snakes found in the United States.
Herpetologists say the old rhyme, 'red and yellow, kill a fellow, red and black, venom lack,' is generally pretty good advice to follow. The Texas coal snake, for example, is best known for its red and yellow bands, which are Mother Nature's way of telling other critters to 'stay away from me!'
The good news is that snakes don't want confrontation, and will usually slither away if they come into contact with humans. The bad news is snakes consider being stepped on as a confrontation.
October is the worst month for snake encounters in Texas, not only because the snakes are active, but because humans are more active too. The nice weather and football season get more people out into the yards, and hunting season gets people out into the woods, where snakes are waiting.