A 3-year-old miniature pinscher mix named Kishi died on Sunday after being bitten by a venomous snake in the Onion Creek Greenbelt.
As summer sets in and temperatures continue to climb, people and their pets are much more likely to come across snakes throughout Central Texas.
Grace Teves, Kishi’s owner, said she’d gone to the greenbelt with her husband around 5 p.m. to let Kishi and their other dog play, but within about two minutes of arriving, they her a loud shriek.
“I just threw a Frisbee to him,” Teves said. “He wandered off. We heard him shriek and we saw him lay on the ground.”
At first, she said she didn’t know what happened. She thought Kishi might have injured his foot or stepped on something sharp, but as they drove away from the greenbelt, she noticed a large, bleeding lump on his neck.
Teves said they drove to a fire station nearby, but they said they could do nothing. Firefighters directed them to the nearest emergency animal clinic, but Kishi died a few minutes into the ride.
Teves said she never saw the snake that bit him, so probably little could have been done.
“We try not to blame ourselves,” she said. “It happened really quickly. There’s really not much we could do, considering the size of our dog. We think that we have been really complacent. We didn’t leash him, even though it was a dog park, really. If we had leashed him, it would have been different.”
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says most snakes don’t pose a threat to humans, but the region is home to four venomous species: western diamondback rattlesnakes, coral snakes, copperheads and cottonmouths, also known as water moccasins.
- Rattlesnakes can be identified by the rattle on the end of their tails, and they are most active at night while hunting, according to Texas Parks.
- Coral snakes are bright red, yellow and black. The red and yellow colors touch on coral snakes, as opposed to the nonvenomous Texas milk snake, which has red and black bands that touch.
- Copperheads have gray and brown bands with copper-colored heads, ideal for blending in with the forest.
- Cottonmouths are usually found in and around water. The inside of their mouth is white. The snake can be very aggressive and defensive, and can bite underwater, according to parks and wildlife officials.
Wildlife experts urge those who come across snakes not to kill them. Most bites happen when people or animals confront snakes.
If a snake bites your pet, the Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital, which offers a rattlesnake vaccine for dogs, recommends getting them veterinary care as soon as possible.
“Even if your dog has been vaccinated with the rattlesnake vaccine, it should be taken to a veterinarian for evaluation and care if a snake bite is suspected,” the hospital’s website said. “We can determinate additional treatment if necessary. For example, fluids and antibiotic treatment may be needed.”
Pet owners also should try to identify the snake, check their pet for bite marks and keep them as calm and quiet as possible.