What you should know about rattlesnakes in Central Texas
Rattlesnakes can be merciless if provoked. Their venomous bites can send people to the hospital and even kill pets.
With summer around the corner, it's good to know what they look like, where you might see one and what to do if you do.
Rattlesnakes tend to hide in rocky formations, specifically in crevices or under rocks, according to Brett Parker with Hill Country Snake Removal. Nature trails, state parks, recent construction sites and undeveloped properties tend to be the most common hotspots for rattlesnakes.
Rattlesnakes also prefer a drier climate, he said. “They don't like it if it gets below 60ish, and they don't like it when it gets above 90."
People tend to think they'll see rattlesnakes on hotter days, Parker said, but in reality, they prefer it to be a bit cooler — like in the 70s and 80s.
That means they're more likely to appear at night in Austin, where daytime summer temperatures average in the high 90s and low 100s.
The most common rattlesnake found in Central Texas is the Western Diamondback. It’s pretty recognizable: It has a diamond-shaped pattern along its body, black and white stripes toward its tail and, of course, a rattle.
If you see a rattlesnake out in the wild, Parker recommends two things: either stay still or continue walking. Do not go toward it.
“As long as I stay still, it's going to eventually try to go somewhere else,” he said. “When I walk around in front of it, it realizes that I'm a threat because I'm bigger than [it], and it turns around and goes the other way.”
Chances are, you’ve walked past a rattlesnake and have had no idea, Parker said.
“They're not sitting there still hoping that you can get closer so they can bite you,” he said. “They're sitting there still hoping you never see it, that you just keep walking.”
Parker says go straight to an emergency room if you are bitten by a snake, and get your pet immediately to the vet.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recommends keeping your lawn trimmed low; keeping brush, wood, rock or debris away from around your residence; wearing shoes while outside; and treading carefully around fallen logs, creek banks, underbrush and rock outcroppings.
If you see a rattlesnake in your neighborhood or around your home, Parker said, don't spray it with a hose or throw something at it. That will only aggravate the snake. Instead, he said, call a snake removal service.