It is that time of year when we start spending more time outside, and it is more important than ever to have a Texas Snake Guide for reference!

As a general rule, all animals bite. Period. Or they can carry diseases. I tell my daughter this all the time. Let’s talk about the bad boys: Snakes.

If you see a snake, leave it alone. Most likely it’s going to slither away in fear anyway, so whether you need to call animal control, grab your shotgun, or just let it be, depends on this: the shape of it’s head and body, and in some cases, the markings on it’s body.

Large diamond-shaped head, thick body: venomous. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Call animal control immediately.

Smaller, round head, thin body: non-venomous, and possibly beneficial, as in eating venomous snakes and rats. Call animal control if you’re unsure. They can always catch and release farther away from your property.

Red touch yellow, kill a fellow: the corral snake is highly venomous, but it doesn’t have a thick body or a broad, triangular head. But, if the red and yellow markings on its body are touching, you can tell it is a corral snake.

This time of year, snakes like to come out and soak up the sun and catch small rodents to eat, so if you frequent the trails, hills, or nature in general, keep these tips in mind:

  • Stay on the trail or park area.
  • Check the park area before you let your child play there; especially underneath playscapes, in enclosed slides, or other dark, unfrequented places.
  • Avoid areas that are unkept, especially where lots of leaves have accumulated over time.
  • Be on the lookout in rocky areas that have lots of little holes, crevices and caves; this is where snakes have their dens.
  • Make sure you can see where you are putting your hands and feet when hiking and/or climbing, so you don’t accidentally step on, or grab a snake.
  • Keep an ear open for the sound of a rattle; back away carefully, no sudden or threatening movements if you hear one. Keep at least 10 steps away.
  • Do not try to move or shout at a snake. If it is on the trail, your best bet is to turn around and go the other way.
  • Just because it is not venomous, does not mean it won’t bite and leave a nasty bruise and bite mark with bleeding that could lead to a bad staph infection.
  • If you get bit, keep calm, call 911 and seek medical help immediately; remove all rings, watches, belts, anything that would prevent swelling. Keep the wound at heart level, do not try to lance the wound, suck out the poison, or drink alcohol to cause bleeding, do not apply a tourniquet or ice.

And that’s it! Your Texas Snake Guide.

Oh, and P.S., rattlesnakes can swim.

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Erin Ellis
Erin owns Events by Erin, a custom event planning business and co-owns Ellis Designs LLC, a custom woodworking business with her husband, John Ellis. Together, their greatest design is their wonderful daughter, Elizabeth. Erin is an Austin native and graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a degree in English. She lives in Round Rock, enjoys running, going to the movies and the beach, and of course, writing for Austin Moms Blog!


  1. There are non-venomous snakes that have triangular heads as well so the triangular shape of the head is not a reliable way to identify venomous vs non.


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