LUBBOCK, Texas — As temperatures increase in the coming weeks, more snakes might be seen in the Lubbock area, experts said.
“They’re going to be present more in the early morning and the evening,” said Dr. Lou Densmore, a biology professor at Texas Tech University, “When it gets really warm, they won’t be out in the middle of the day because they have to keep their body temperature at a comparable temperature to what ours is.”
He said one of the most common snakes in the Lubbock region is the coachwhip snake, which he said is fast, non-poisonous, and can grow to be more than six feet long.
Other common non-venomous snakes in the area include the Great Plains rat snake and the eastern hognose.
Densmore said the most common venomous snake in Lubbock is the western diamondback snake, which has a diamond-like design and an iconic raccoon tail print. Densmore said snakes can typically be found hunting for rodents and generally do not mean harm to humans, but those who spot the diamondback should proceed with caution.
“What I would do is, I’m going to just back up very slowly and keep the eye on the snake,” said Densmore. “The snake is not interested in you. The snake will definitely go its separate way when it feels safe.”
Densmore said western diamondback is sometimes confused with a non-venomous snake called the bull snake.
“The bull snake is probably the snake that gets killed, people thinking it’s a rattlesnake because it does [also] have that raccoon tail on the end,” said Densmore. “It will [also] open up its mouth and force air through and it sounds almost as it’s a rattle[snake].”
Jace Morse, a supervisor at Lubbock Animal Services, said it’s common to get calls about snakes in the warmer months. Last year, they got more than 20 calls and Morse said the snakes can be found in all sorts of places.
“We’ve picked up a large boa constrictor from under a dumpster one time,” said Morse. “We [also] had a python that was stuck in the fence of a Slim Chickens.”
Both Dr. Densmore and Morse suggest extreme caution around snakes and said that pets and children should be closely monitored.
“Be aware of your surroundings,” said Dr. Densmore. “If you’re not sure what the snake is, leave it alone.”
Residents wanting to report snakes can reach out to Lubbock Animal Services or the Texas Tech Biology Department.
Anyone who gets bitten by a snake is advised to seek immediate medical attention. Hand washing should follow any handling of snakes.