Coral snakes, just one of the many venomous snakes found on Fort Rucker, are most notable for their red, yellow/white, and black colored banding. Other venomous snakes that people might encounter include the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, the Timber Rattlesnake, the Pygmy Rattlesnake, the Copperhead, and Cottonmouth or Water Moccasin. (Courtesy photo)
Published: October 23, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 23, 2014) -- Enjoying the cooler weather is what fall is all about, but people are not the only animals out enjoying the respite from the heat.
“Snakes are a concern,” said Daniel Spillers, fish and wildlife administrator. “When we come out of a period of hot weather, they get more active initially before the weather starts to cool off.
“We have several species of venomous snakes here,” he said. “We have the Diamond Back, Timber and Pygmy Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, and Cottonmouths. All of those are pit vipers. They have a triangular-shaped head, elliptical pupils in their eyes and hemotoxin venom.”
Hemotoxins are toxins that destroy the red blood cells, disrupt blood clotting, and cause organ degeneration and tissue damage. A snake’s venom serves more than just a self defensive purpose. Hemotoxic venom aids the snake’s digestion. The venom breaks down protein near the bite, making prey easier to digest.
“Another snake in this area is the Coral snake,” Spillers said. “It is a much smaller snake and it has a neurotoxin venom.”
A neurotoxin is a poison that acts on the nervous system. There are many different neurotoxins, and each one has a specific effect on nervous tissue and the body, he said. Coral snake venom neurotoxins may not cause symptoms right away, and they might not show up for hours. Some of the symptoms include blurred vision, difficulty breathing, nausea, paralysis and death.
“You don’t usually encounter them around here,” Spillers said. “They are very reclusive.”
The U.S. National Library of Medicine suggests treating all snake bites as being venomous unless you are sure that the snake is not. Children are more susceptible to snake venom because of their smaller size.
“This time of year you need to watch where you are stepping when you are out in the woods, especially if you are in an area with high brush or tall grass,” Spillers said. “People should wear boots or protective leggings if they are working in these areas.
“Bites on Fort Rucker are rare,” he said, “But snakes should still be a concern.
“Snakes are cold blooded, and if the temperature is very hot or cold you don’t see snakes out much,” Spillers explained. “The temperatures are just right for them in the fall though, and also it coincides with their breeding season. If you do get bit by a snake, just go to the hospital. Don’t try to cut the wound or anything like that.”
The number to call for medical emergencies on Fort Rucker is 911.
This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/136836/
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