Snake sightings on the rise in Austin area

Snake sightings in Central Texas are more common this year.

Snake removal expert Matt Dillon said there are three main reasons for the increase in unwanted serpents; weather, food and construction.

“In the last 90 days, I'm getting, through my firm, about 20 calls a week for various snakes,” said Mike Dillon, owner of Critter Ridder in Austin.

Dillon said he has had more calls for snake removal lately than he has gotten in years.
               
“I see a lot of snakes when the water's high, when we have a lot of rain and they're displaced from their homes. Water moves the snakes and when it rains as much as it has recently, the snakes can't go into their dens for weeks, if not months, so they tend to look for new places to temporarily hang out,” Dillon said.

One neighborhood by the Barton Creek Greenbelt has had several visiting serpents in the last few weeks; everything from non-venomous rat snakes, to coral snakes and rattlesnakes.

“About two weeks ago, I think we found a four-foot rattlesnake that was behind our neighbor’s house. So a few of us got together to see if we could scare it out of there or find a place for it to get it out of the neighborhood, but ended up taking care of it,” said Matt Lawlor who lives near the Barton Creek Greenbelt. 

While not totally abnormal for this time of year in a heavily wooded area, the increase in snake sightings has some neighbors a little on edge.

“Oh, definitely, because I don't want the dogs to get bit and I don't want anybody’s kid to get bit and I definitely don't want to get bit. So we want to make sure we either scare it away or give it another home to go to,” Lawlor said. 

Homeowners in West Travis County got several unwanted visitors over the holiday weekend. They discovered 10 copperheads on their property on the Fourth of July and a snake removal expert found an additional baby copperhead the next day.

Dillon said besides the wet weather, other factors play a part in snakes venturing into new neighborhoods.

“Well, as we all know, the construction is booming in Austin and with all the new subdivisions we're putting in, we're actually turning earth and doing away with a lot of these dens that the snakes hang out in,” Dillon said. 

To decrease the odds of running into a scaly stranger, Dillon suggests making your presence known.

“I highly suggest when you're out walking your property to walk heavily. Stomp your feet or carry a golf club or a hoe or a walking stick and tap the ground with it as you go,” said Dillon. 

He said as the water dries up and rats and mice head closer to the creeks, the snakes will follow.

The best way to avoid a bite is to keep from startling a snake and pay close attention to surroundings. Dillon said it's a good idea to research which emergency centers carry antivenin in case of a venomous snake bite.

He also suggests having an expert assess the property for possible snake hangouts like large rocks or tall grass.

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