Snakes Out and About in the Brazos Valley

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

It's no secret that Texas is home to a variety of snakes. What is a little less known is what kinds you need be aware of.

If you have any trash piles, wood piles, sheets of roofing material, or loose ply-wood, turns out you have a snake habitat in your yard. If any of that sounds familiar, being able to identify which snakes are poisonous, and which ones are not, is important.

In our area the most prevalent snakes are Texas Rat Snakes, some people call them chicken snakes. You'll find them in areas around water. Also water snakes, like the Yellow-bellied Water Snake.

Dr. Lee Fitzgerald with Texas A&M's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Science says about 99 percent of the time one of these snakes will see you and go the other way.

But, there are a few poisonous ones lurking around to be aware of, like the Copperhead, Cottonmouth, the Timber Rattlesnake, and the colorful Coral Snake.

"Red and yellow kill a fellow, red and black venom lack," Fitzgerald said.

That childhood rhyme may help when it comes to identifying the coral snake. But there are plenty of others that can be tricky to identify.

"We have countless numbers of Texas water snakes, Rat Snakes, and other species of snakes that are a part of our wildlife area, that are killed because people don't understand what they are, or people think they're venomous when they're not," Fitzgerald said.

That's where Teresa Shisk-Saling comes in. She's rescued more than one-hundred of these reptiles, after people have found them, or have turned their pets loose.

"We can get them, we can re-home them, and move them to areas that are safer for them. And you don't have to kill them. More times than not they're just passing through," Shisk-Saling said.

Theresa and her husband opened the Reptile Hospice and Sanctuary of Texas. They work closely with the Sheriff's Departmentd to pick up unwanted snakes reported. They then use the snakes to teach others about them.

"I truly believe if I can educate children and teach them, they can respect these animals and appreciate them, they don't have to kill them. Then very slowly I can put myself out of business," Shisk-Saling said.

Experts say if you get bitten by a snake and you can't figure out whether it's poisonous, don't try to figure it out on your own. The best advice is call 911 or head straight to the hospital.

The Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collection can also help people in identifying snakes you may come across in your yard.
They say you can call them at 979-845-5783 or e-mail them at Taking a picture of the snake can help them identify it quicker.

The Reptiles Hospice and Sanctuary takes in all sorts reptiles.
To contact them you can call Teresa Shisk-Saling at 979-272-8648 or e-mail her at

To visit their website click on the link below.

KBTX-TV Channel 3 4141 E. 29th Street Bryan, TX 77802 Phone: (979) 846-7777 Fax: (979) 846-1490 News Fax: (979) 846-1888
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