Although there aren't any more snakes in Texas than usual, with all the recent rains, snakes are moving around more, increasing the chances for people to get bitten.   


There are four different types of snakes in Texas that are venomous: the cottonmouth, any rattlesnake, copperhead and the coral snake.  


The cottonmouth can be up to 5 feet long. It is usually dark black but can be brown or olive with dark, wide bands on its body. It is also called a "water moccasin" because it's primarily seen near bodies of water. Cottonmouth refers to the white tissue inside its mouth. The cottonmouth may be more likely than the other three venomous snakes to be aggressive.


The Western Diamondback rattlesnake is most common and may reach up to 7 feet long. It is not usually aggressive, unless it's disturbed. Most people can quickly recognize these snake by their rattle, which is used to send a warning to it's predators.


The copperhead gets it's name from its copper-colored body, which makes it difficult to see when it's slithering around oak leaves and other vegetation.  It is not aggressive. Many copperhead bites occur when a snake is stepped on because it wasn't seen.


The coral snake is fairly short - usually around 2 feet or shorter - and slender, with bright red, black and yellow rings on it's body. The coral snake's venom is different than the others and is extremely dangerous for small children. This snake is less likely to bite an adult because of it's small mouth, unless it can reach a toe or a finger. There are other nonvenomous snakes that can be mistaken for a coral snake so always remember: "Red touching yellow, kill a fellow; red touching black, venom lack."  


Avoidance is your best defense against snakes because it's often difficult to tell the difference between some venomous and nonvenomous snakes without getting too close for comfort.  


For questions about snakes, or if you or your loved one gets bitten, call the experts at 1-800-222-1222. We can get in touch with the staff at the hospital to let them know you are on your way and what symptoms you are experiencing so they know exactly what to expect when you get there. 

Leaves of Three Let Them Be

Summer is here and the Texas Poison Center Network is beginning to receive calls about poison ivy and poison oak. These are common summertime poisons that can cause a lot of discomfort for people enjoying the outdoors.

Poison ivy and poison oak can release a substance called urushiol when the leaves or other parts of the plant are damaged or burned.

Nearly 85 percent of people exposed to the oil will have an allergic reaction, and it only takes a very small amount of oil to cause a reaction.

Typically there will be an itchy, red rash with bumps and blisters.

Poison ivy isn't contagious unless you spread the oil from person to person. But keep in mind that pets can carry the oil from the plant on their fur and pass the oil to any human coming in contact with them.


Here are several tips about poison ivy to keep in mind this summer. Contact the poison center at 1-800-222-1222 if you have any questions.

  • Recognize what poison ivy looks like: "Leaves of three let them be" or "1, 2, 3 let it be" are catchy phrases to help you remember.
  • Wash your hands with soap and cool water as soon as possible if you come in contact with poison ivy.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants and impermeable gloves when working in areas you think may have poison ivy.
  • Wash any exposed clothing immediately.
  • Wash garden tools and gloves often.
  • Don't scratch your rash as doing so can cause an infection.
  • Lukewarm baths with a colloidal oatmeal preparation may help relieve the itching.
  • Applying cool compresses, calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream may also help to relieve the itchy skin.
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Summer Safety IQ Test

You are at a neighborhood barbecue. Your youngster gets into some tiki torch fluid and you think he might have swallowed some. Is this dangerous?


A. No, it's just a clear liquid.

B. It depends on how old your child is.

C. Yes. It can easily get into the lungs and cause pneumonia. This could be fatal.


Answer: C 

Drinking tiki torch fluid is dangerous. The same is true of other petroleum-based liquids (hydrocarbons) like gasoline, kerosene, paint thinner, baby oil, lamp oil, furniture polish, charcoal lighter fluid, etc. When you swallow these and other hydrocarbons, they can easily go down the wrong way and get into your lungs. Only a small amount can cause pneumonia within a few hours. The liquid also spreads out over the inner surface of your lungs, preventing oxygen from entering your blood stream. Tiki torch fluid and other hydrocarbons MUST be stored in their original child-resistant containers, locked out of sight and reach of children. When you use these products, do not put them down where children can reach them; immediately lock them away when you're done. If someone has swallowed tiki torch fluid, or other possible poisons, call us at

right awa y. DO NOT MAKE YOUR CHILD VOMIT. Inducing vomiting can lead to life-threatening injuries.



Heroin in Disguise

Officials are starting to see a new type of Heroin in a form of pill identical to 10mg Percocets. Resembling its texture, size, and yellow color to the 10mg Percocets, the disguised pill
counterfeit tablets may contain not only heroin but fentanyl and oxycodone as well.  These tablets have a high potential for the user to accidentally overdose on heroin. Make sure to use appropriate precautions when coming across anything that resembles these pills and tablets.  For questions about any dangerous substances, please contact your local Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.