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Arklatex In Depth: Snakes - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Arklatex In Depth: Snakes

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The the temperatures have turned cooler and that will be a natural draw for people to get outdoors and enjoy the fall weather. But watch your step as snakes native to the Ark La Tex may pose as hazard.

Dr. Mark Ryan Director of The Louisiana Poison Control Center reminds everyone "1 800 222 1222. We are here 24 hours a day. We have clinical and medical toxicologists. We deal with about two hundred and fifty snakes bites a year so we know a lot about them."

It's a phone number and advice that just may save your life. If you love the outdoors and you want to be outdoors you may encounter snakes.

Dr. Tom Arnold of University Health Emergency Services give a rundown of venomous snakes to watch out for "The copperhead, the water moccasin, and we have two types of rattlesnakes the canebrake and the pygmy rattler and those are the ones we most commonly see and they will be present around our homes and in the forests and the woods until it gets well into the wintertime"

Most people are very afraid of snakes and for good reason but they are a part of our eco system and now that fall has begun and the weather is cooling off he wants to dispel the myth that snakes just simply go away for winter and just hibernate

Dr. Arnold states "They don't actually hibernate for long periods of time. If it warms up to 75 degrees in December they will come out."

Ricky Kilpatrick is an Agriculture Agent with the LSU Ag Center "A few years ago I almost got bit by a rattlesnake in December. A lot of time when it turns off cold and we have a little warm spell they will really be out more than when it has been hot."

Snakes have quick strike capability.

Professor Ty Bryan of Bossier Parish Community College says "They are using it as a defense mechanism in that case. A lot of the venom contains various toxins that will begin digestion. That can break the food down quicker. And of course to immobilize the prey faster."

But may we pause to say that not all snakes are bad snakes

Rohonda Morris of Critters Company tells KTBS "We have snakes that eat insects. We have snakes that eat rodents. We have a large corn crop and cotton crop in this area and that is where the little mice like to live. Rat snakes are excellent friends to have in those areas to take care of the rodent population."

Another example is the King snake which captures and eats other snakes

The fact is venomous snakes are out there and they bite people and that's when problems occur.

Dr. Mark Ryan advises "All those old things. Cut and suck out. Tourniquet no. Ice to it no. Best thing to have when bitten by a snake a set of car keys and a cell phone. Everybody bitten by a snake needs to be seen by a physician in the emergency department."

In fact you are advised not to worry about taking a picture and please do not bring the reptile to the hospital. Doctors can usually tell what kind of snake bite a person has suffered. There are only two types of anti venom. One is used for pit viper wounds. The other type for the coral snake.

Professor Ty Bryan tells about the Coral snake "The Coral snakes belong to a family called the elapids. Which the same family that the cobras belong to."

And when it comes to anti-venom, Dr. Mark Ryan explains "There is one anti venom that covers all of the snakes that we have that are venomous in the U.S. Besides the coral snake. It's a different type of venom. That snake has it's own anti venom

And the anti-venom goes at a cost of more that two thousand dollars per vial. A person who suffers a venomous bite may need 2 or 3 vials but there have been cases where more than 10 vials were needed for a person to make a recovery. And did you know that more men are bitten by snakes that women? Men mostly on the hands and chest. Women on the feet and legs.

Contact information for the poison control center 1-800-222-1222 or the web site of the American association of poison control centers at www.aapcc.org

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