With the summer months upon us, it is very important to you and your pet to be on the lookout for the presence of snakes. There are six known venomous snakes in Florida: five pit viper species and the coral snake.
Identifying Deadly Snakes
The pit vipers include rattlesnakes (diamondback, pygmy, and canebrake), copperhead, and cottonmouth (also known as water moccasin). Pit vipers have retractable fangs and a triangular-shaped head, while coral snakes have non-retractable fangs in the rear of the mouth.
The coral snake is often confused with the harmless scarlet king snake. A good mnemonic to remember the difference between two: “Red touch yellow, kill a fellow; red touch black, good for Jack.” This refers to the bands of color on the snake and their proximity to each other. Also, the coral has a black nose, while the king snake has a red one.
Snakes and Pets
Rarely will a cat get bitten by a snake, but dogs are frequently bitten due to their curiosity. They are most commonly bitten on the muzzle, neck, head, or front legs, resulting in lots of bleeding, swelling, pain, and bruising around the bite area.
If you see the snake and can identify it, this is all the better for determining your dog’s treatment. But please, consider your own safety and distance yourself from the snake, if at all possible. If you have to kill the snake to protect yourself or your pet, take it with you for identification. Be aware that the fangs of a decapitated snake head may be venomous for up to 1½ hours.
Snake-Bite First Aid
Keep you pet calm and still, as movement may cause the toxin to spread faster. Do not touch or mess with the bite area.
Do not apply ice or use a tourniquet. Do however, transport your pet to a veterinary hospital or emergency animal clinic as soon as possible. Time is of the essence! The greater quantity of toxin delivered and the longer time before administration of anti-venom, the less chance your pet has for survival.
This copyrighted article first appeared in the Residences section of The Palm Beach Post. It may have been updated since its original publication.