Rattlesnake sightings on the rise in our area

By: 
JOSEPH GRANT
Staff Writer

Summertime is a time for shrugging off the winter blues and getting outdoors. With this, there are many lifelong memories made. Nowhere in the country is this more true than in West Texas. But in West Texas summertime can mean something else: rattlesnakes.
There has been an increase in incidents involving the frequency of rattlesnakes sightings in our residential areas. Reports of rattlesnakes on the Southeast edge of town as well as the Northeast side of town ensure that this is no longer is this just a “county road” matter or experience but more and more it is becoming a local one.
According to local veterinarian, Bud Alldredge, Jr., in the past three or four weeks rattlesnakes have been reported within city limits. There have been rattlesnakes reported within a block or so from the Sweetwater Country Club as well as other residential blocks such as Rose Avenue.
It is not that our city is immune to any wildlife propagation. The temperate weather we enjoy has helped increase the population of many species. One can see this with the cricket population exploding around town. These bring other predators. Wild rats are opportunist omnivorous eaters. This means they will eat whatever they can find. In most cases, this might include grains, fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts and any other edibles they might find. Although rats prefer to eat what they find, they will hunt in occasion, catching bugs and other small animals. Rattlesnakes will eat rats and mice as they are a good source of nutrition.
In 1983, there were sixty-five rattlesnake bites involving people and their pets. In 1984, there were only sixteen due to below freezing temperatures.
The large majority of species live in the American Southwest and Mexico. Four species may be found east of the Mississippi River, and two in South America. Most species live near open, rocky areas. But as Sweetwater residents know, rattlesnakes live wherever they want; under floorboards, in walls, under a pile of old boxes.
There are some very good tips to keep in mind: Be cautious and aware of one’s surroundings. 2) While there is a rattlesnake vaccine, it is not a one hundred percent cure all and if a pet is going to be exposed, owners should remember that the vaccine only slows down the progress of the venom.
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