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Snakes stirring for spring but they're not all bad

Published On: May 14 2013 08:29:30 PM CDT   Updated On: May 15 2013 07:28:49 AM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

Would you know the difference between a venomous and non-venomous snake if you saw one?

With the springtime temperatures, many Big Country snakes are coming out of hiding. While there are plenty of dangerous ones, some are relatively harmless to humans.

In Taylor County, there are three venom-containing snakes; the Western Diamondback rattlesnake, the Massausaga rattlesnake, and the Broadbanded Copperhead.

If you're looking to avoid a run-in with one of them, the best advice is to keep your yard clean. Avoid having spaces around where they can find shade and hiding spots. Those include piles of rocks, debris, or overturned plant pots.

Not all creatures that slither across your property are venomous, though. Take, for example, the rat snakes.

"We have two kinds of rat snakes for the most part...an Emoryi Rat snake which is dark grey-light grey patterning” says Matthew Strong, reptiles zookeeper at the Abilene Zoo. “They're both going to get about five or five and a half feet generally, and then you've got the Texas rat snake which is going to be black and orange.”

Taylor County doesn't have any official reports of Water Moccasins or Cottonmouths but nearly every other county in the Big Country does. These are often confused with average water snakes that carry similar mannerisms but different head shapes.

Regardless of the type of snake you encounter, whether you're sure of its type or not, the best course of action is to back away slowly and leave it alone.