53D Wing Safety101 Critical Days of Summer SAFETY… It’s an ATTITUDE Summer Critters
Reptiles and Snakes Reptiles/Snakes
Reptiles and Snakes About Snakes • Snakes are reptiles. Reptiles are cold-blooded, have skin covered with scales, and lay eggs. (Some snakes don't actually lay their eggs, but hold them inside until they hatch.) Snakes have no legs and no ears. Skilled predators, snakes help maintain the balance of nature by eating prey that reproduces frequently, everything from earthworms to rabbits. Snakes are especially important in the control of rodents such as mice and rats.
Reptiles and Snakes Venomous Snakes in Texas Texas is home to around 115 species and subspecies of snakes. The 15 venomous snakes in Texas make up less than 15 percent of the total number of snakes in the state. They are separated into four categories: • Coral snakes • Copperheads • Cottonmouths (Water moccasins) • Rattlesnakes.
Reptiles and Snakes Coral Snake • Only one species of coral snake is native to Texas. Shy and rarely seen, it has, in order, brilliant red, yellow and black colors. (Other, harmless snakes have similar colors in a different order. The rhyme "red and yellow kill a fellow" has helped many remember that the coral snake's red and yellow colors touch, but the harmless milk snake's red and yellow don't touch.) The coral snake has a small mouth, and is usually non-aggressive. Its bites are dangerous, but extremely rare.
Reptiles and Snakes What is a Pit Viper? • A pit viper is a type of venomous snake. Copperheads, cottonmouths and rattlesnakes are called pit-vipers because they have a pit near each nostril which is highly sensitive to heat. This pit helps the snake in locating warm-blooded prey.
Reptiles and Snakes Copperheads • With their bands of gray and/or brown, the four subspecies of Texas copperheads are colored to blend in with leaf-covered forest floors. It's possible to stare right at a copperhead without seeing it. Fortunately, copperheads are the least dangerous poisonous snake. Because they are so well camouflaged, most bites occur when a snake is accidentally picked up or sat or laid on. Always use care when picking up or flipping over logs, boards, old tin or other items where copperheads may be resting.
Reptiles and Snakes Cottonmouths • The cottonmouth, or water moccasin, rarely strays far from water and can be found in marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes, ditches, and canals in East and Central Texas and along the Gulf coast. It is a stubby, muscular snake and can grow to nearly six feet. Moccasins can bite underwater. These snakes can be very defensive and sometimes aggressive. Swimmers, bathers and anglers on river banks should always keep an eye open for these snakes.
Reptiles and Snakes Rattlesnakes • Nine kinds of rattlesnakes are found in Texas, including the Desert Massasauga . • Rattlesnakes usually "rattle" before striking, but if they are totally surprised, they may strike before rattling.
Reptiles and Snakes • Snake venom is saliva, a highly modified saliva, and is produced by modified saliva glands. It is a cocktail of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of different proteins and enzymes.
Reptiles and Snakes Snakebite
Reptiles and Snakes Preventing Snake Bites • Watching where you step, put your hands, or sit down is one of the best ways to prevent snake bites. Poisonous snakes live on or near the ground and often like rocks, wood piles and other spots that offer both a place to sun and a place to hide. Snakes avoid your huge body, but will definitely bite if stepped on or otherwise trapped. Most bites occur in and around the ankle. About 99 percent of all bites occur below the knee, except when someone accidentally picks up or falls on the snake.
Reptiles and Snakes • The fangs of venomous snakes, though long and sharp, are relatively fragile and easily deflected or broken. These fangs usually don't penetrate canvas tennis shoes and almost never penetrate leather shoes or boots. Watching where you step and wearing boots in tall grass can prevent most snake bites. • Snakes are not something to be feared, but rather a creature to be respected as a fascinating member of the outdoors.
Reptiles and Snakes • It is important to remember that not every snake is venomous, and that, while the very mention of the word often sends chills up the spine of many people, snakes do have an important role in our Texas ecosystem. Their contribution in controlling rodents can hardly be understated!
Reptiles and Snakes • Equally important is an understanding that envenomation is a defensive mechanism for the snake - snakes do not sit in the grass waiting for the unfortunate human to come by. Nor do they pursue or hunt humans. Bites are usually a result of the snake being surprised or cornered, or from someone handling snakes.
Safety Around the Home • Snakes in general, occur around a home for the specific purposes of seeking food and shelter. Keeping these things in mind provides us with guidelines to help prevent snakebite around the home.
Safety Around the Home • Keep wood piles, brush piles, trash dumps and livestock pens as far as possible from the residence. When working in these areas, exercise caution. Never put an arm or leg into something if you can not see the bottom. • Keep storage areas and barns as neat as possible. Treat materials stored on the floor as possible snake shelters. Treat overturned boats, tarps and similar objects as potential shelter for transient snakes moving through the area.
Safety Around the Home Remember snakes are adept at finding their way through small openings. Keep this in mind when entering crawl spaces, basements, garages and similar areas.
Safety in the Field • Since venomous snakes are common in the rural areas of Texas, it is important for ranchers, hunters, rural residents, outdoor enthusiasts and other that frequent these areas to exercise caution. • Be careful where you put your hands and feet - don't reach or step until you can see the bottom. • Never step over a log without first seeing what is on the other side. If you must move a log - use a long stick or garden tool first, to ensure snakes are neither under, on or around these favored habitats.
Safety in the Field • Use a flashlight when moving about, even in your home yard, at night. • Animal burrows make excellent habitat for snakes - don't reach in without first checking. • Wear protective clothing if working in areas where you suspect snakes nearby. Heavy footwear, snake proof trousers and/or leggings will help reduce your risk. • Freeze when snakes are known to be nearby until you know where they are. Allow the snake to retreat. If you must move, back slowly and carefully away from the snake.
First Aid • First Aid for snake bites can prevent disability, disfigurement or death if it is applied effectively. The recommendations have changed drastically over the years, and remaining informed on effective first aid should be a priority of everyone working in snake habitat. • Assume envenomation has occurred even before symptoms appear.
First Aid • Identify the species of venomous snake with care. This could help with the medical treatment but will complicate the situation if we have more than one victim. • Keep the victim and yourself as calm as possible. • Know and treat for any symptoms of shock. • Wash the bite area with a disinfectant soap. • Remove restrictive clothing/jewelry in the area of the bite. • Prevent movement of the bitten extremity. • Get medical attention as soon as possible. • Under nocircumstances should you cut between the punctures, or suck the venom out or apply electric shock.
First Aid • Decide how serious the bite is by considering: • The age, size and general health of the patient. A small child or elderly individual will probably react much more severely than a regular adult.. • The depth, location and number of bites. A single, glancing blow by the fangs is much less dangerous than multiple wounds or wounds that penetrate the flesh deeply. A bite that penetrates a blood vessel is extremely dangerous. • The least dangerous bites occur on the extremities and in fatty tissue. Bites on the head or trunk are usually fatal.
First Aid • The duration of the bite. The longer the bite, the greater the amount of venom that may be injected. • Clothing. A snake that bites through several layers of clothing will not leave as much venom as a snake that strikes bare skin. • Maturity, type, and size of the snake. Small snakes usually do not produce enough venom to seriously harm an adult.
First Aid • Condition of the fangs and venom sacs. More venom will be injected if the fangs and venom sacs are in good condition. • How angry or fearful a snake is. More venom will be injected if the snake is angry or fearful.
Preventing Snake Bites USEFUL TIPS TO REMEMBER: • 1. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don't just blindly wander through woods, weeds, trails, bushes, and the like. • 2. Avoid specific snake habitats like brush piles, debris mounds, logjams, root systems, abandoned buildings, watery areas, "cover" in general. Remember, they may be anywhere else also! • 3. Wear leather shoes or boots at least ankle high or better when walking in suspected snake country. • 4. Never sit or climb (feet and hands), or step over obstacles anywhere without first looking carefully prior to taking the move.
Preventing Snake Bites • 5. Observation is critical to avoidance - learn to check around with a sweeping glance for anything that seems out of place, for this may be your subconscious notice of a camouflaged critter lurking close by. • 6. Near water of any kind, be aware that many species "hang out" there and will likely be quite hidden from view while they are sleeping or hunting - just be more alert.
Preventing Snake Bites • 7. Remember that snakes have needs for shelter, water, and food basically in that order just to survive, so be aware of these "needs" and be alert when these are especially present in any combination. • 8. Try not to stalk along quietly as snakes have many sensing devices to warn them of your presence - let these work freely with noise, movements, etc. and thus not make the snake think it may be the target of a predator when it would need to become more aggressive!
Preventing Snake Bites • 9. Take a pet along on outings since these animals have a much more effective set of senses when it comes to snakes - a point guard is often a good confidence builder and may serve as a beneficial warning. • 10. When a snake is spotted, leave it alone! So many bite victims have chosen to hit the snake or try to catch it. Remember, where there is one, there are likely others! Be alert!
Preventing Snake Bites • 11. Learn more about snakes in the area where you live or play so that you better understand their capabilities and behaviors. • 12. Learn basic snakebite first aid. Prepare yourself and always expect the unexpected.. • 13. Be in tune with your environment - know that most critters, including snakes, try to avoid human contact. Practice skills that make you more aware of what is happening and what critical conditions are present as you move through the fields and streams.
Gila Monsters Gila monsterOur largest native US lizard comes in a gaudy color but is surprisingly hard to find. It spends over 98% of its time underground or at its den entrance. Though shy, the gila monster has a bad bite and clamps down with a tenacious hold. Venom is chewed in through grooves in rear teeth of the lower jaw. Though it packs a powerful nerve toxin, most prey are killed by the bite, not the venom.
Gila Monsters Gila monsters are listed as a threatened species, and state laws protect them throughout their US range. • On an interesting note, a component of Gila monster venom called Exendin-4 is currently being investigated as a promising new drug to treat type 2 diabetes. This peptide stimulates secretion of insulin in the presence of elevated blood glucose levels. It also has the effect of slowing gastric emptying. Phase I clinical studies have recently begun with this exciting investigational drug.
Rodents Rodents Rodents can carry a variety of diseases and behave in ways that are likely to contaminate food and water. Keep all food and snacks stored in impenetrable containers.
Insect Bites and Stings Bites/Stings
Insect Bites/Stings INSECT BITES • Insect bites and stings are common, and most are considered minor. It is only when the insect is poisonous or when the patient has an allergic reaction and runs the risk of developing anaphylactic shock that the situation becomes an emergency. Even under those conditions, accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment can save lives and prevent permanent tissue damage.
Insect Bites/Stings • The normal reaction to an insect sting is a sharp, stinging pain followed by an itchy, swollen, painful raised area. The swelling may be there for several days but usually goes away within 24 hours. Local reactions are rarely serious or life-threatening and can be treated with cold compresses.
Insect Bites/Stings • The stinging insects that most often cause allergic reactions belong to a group of the hymenoptera, the insects with membranous wings. These include bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets. Stings from wasps and bees are the most common.
Insect Bites/Stings • Bees have a barbed stinger at the base of their abdomen which carries their venom. The bee forces the tip of the stinger through the skin of the victim and leaves the stinger, poison sack and attached muscle in the victim's skin. It may take hundreds of bee stings to inflict a fatal toxic dose of venom in a healthy adult. However, one sting can cause a fatal anaphylactic (allergic) reaction in a hypersensitive person.
Insect Bites/Stings • Only worker-honeybees can sting. The sting of the honeybee has only a defensive use. What is more, it is not possible for the insect to tear it out of the skin. It remains there with a part of the guts, so the honeybee dies. • The poison is called apitoxin and is actually a colorless, limpid, bitter liquid with a pleasant smell. Its effects were known in the past as a successful method of healing rheumatism.
Insect Bites/Stings AFRICANIZED HONEY BEES • Africanized honey bees were imported to Brazil in 1956 to enhance honey production in the tropics. Some of the bees escaped into the wild and have gradually moved towards North America. • They are the temperamental cousin of the more common European honey bee. They often are called "killer bees", but in reality their stings are less potent and painful than the common bee sting. They defend their nesting sites very aggressively, sometimes stinging their victims hundreds of times.
Insect Bites/Stings What to do if you are attacked: • Run as quickly as you can away from the bees. Do not flail or swing your arms at them, as this may further annoy them. • Because bees target the head and eyes, cover your head as much as you can without slowing your escape. • Get to the shelter or closest house or car as quickly as possible. Don't worry if a few bees become trapped in your home. If several bees follow you into your car, drive about a quarter of a mile and let the bees out of the car.
Insect Bites/Stings Wasps • The wasp itself is a “vegetarian” but the larvae feed only on insects and arachnids. Therefore, “as a loving mother”, it is forced to hunt. • The neurotoxin cannot cause death but it can lead to a clinical picture equal to the one of a honeybee sting. Wasp stings are more dangerous as a rule. It is important to notice that the sting rarely remains in the skin and the wasp usually flies away freely.
Insect Bites/Stings • Preventive measures: • Destroy all nests around your living place • Keep your feet covered outdoors • Avoid bright colored clothing/perfumery products • Prefer to wear tight rather than loose clothing • When you encounter the insect, stand still or retreat slowly. If it lands on skin, quickly brush it off. • Use a personal first aid kit in individuals with a history of allergy
Insect Bites/Stings • Remember that wasps usually only sting when provoked, and having wasps around your home and garden can actually be an excellent way to naturally control pests. A single wasp can remove as many as 225 insects an hour from your home or garden!
Insect Bites/Stings Black Widow Spider • The black widow is a spider with a shiny black body, thin legs and an hourglass shaped red/white mark on its abdomen. The female is much larger than the male and is one of the largest spiders in the United States. Males generally do not bite. Females bite only when hungry, agitated or protecting the egg sac. The black widow is not aggressive. They are usually found in dry, secluded, dimly lit areas. More than 80 percent of all bite victims are adult men.
Insect Bites/Stings Black widow spider bites are the leading cause of death from spider bites in the United States. The venom is 14 times more toxic than rattlesnake venom. It is a neurotoxin that causes little local reaction but does cause pain and spasms in the larger muscle groups of the body within 30 minutes to three hours. Severe bites can cause respiratory failure, coma and death.
Insect Bites/Stings Brown Recluse Spider The bite of the brown spider is a serious medical condition. The bite is non-healing and causes tissue death. Sometimes surgery is necessary. • The bite causes only a mild stinging sensation if any at all. Victims often are unaware they have been bitten. Several hours after the bite, the following signs and symptoms begin to result:
Insect Bites/Stings • A small white area appears surrounded by a margin of redness, which may produce a mild itching pain. • A blister appears surrounded by mild swelling and redness. • A "bulls-eye" or "target" lesion develops. • There may be fever, chills, rash, hives, nausea and pain in the joints over the next few days. • The target lesion will enlarge over the next few days and produce extensive tissue death. There is no anti-venom. The lesion will have to be soaked in antiseptic and possibly antibiotics. Surgery may be necessary to cut out the dead tissue.
Insect Bites/Stings Scorpions • There are many species of scorpions, but only one is potentially lethal. This is the bark scorpion. It is one of the smaller species being one to one and a half inches long. It prefers places dark and cool, woodpiles, palm trees, decorative bark. The severity of the sting depends on the amount of venom injected but scorpion stings can be fatal. Ninety percent of all scorpion stings occur on the hands.