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Energy & Environment

Drought Leads to a Rise In Animal Bites

Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News
Kelly Conrad Bender, an urban wildlife biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife, shows off a Mexican Milk snake. Bender discussed the issues involving the drought and wild animal bites at the University Medical Center at Brakenridge.

The number of venomous bites and stings has increased since last year as the drought sends snakes and other wild animals searching for food and water.

Kelly Conrad Bender, an urban wildlife biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife, came to the University Medical Center Brakenridge to explain the changes in wildlife.

“Wildlife, these individual animals, has not experienced this kind of drought, but their species has. They are the result of thousands of years of adaptation to our climate and these droughts do happen occasionally, maybe once every 50 to 100 years. So the species, given appropriate habitat and given a good balanced stable habitat, they will survive and they’ll come out stronger,” Bender said.

Three people have died of snake bites at Brackenridge Hospital since last year. Usually there’s about one in the state and only ten in the entire nation.

"Well in at least one of the cases that was the situation, where the individual knew he had been bitten but he didn’t feel any pain at the bite site and assumed it was a dry bite and went back to working on what he was doing. Then he collapsed about 20 minutes later," medical director Dr. Christopher Ziebell said.

Both experts recommended that if you are bitten by any animal, venomous or not, to seek medical attention immediately. All three of the fatalities were from rattlesnake bites. For tips on protecting yourself against wildlife bites visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.