Many parents fear the thought of their children encountering snakes, and with good reason. Curious kids often like to turn over rocks, reach into open logs, and jump into creek water — all of which are common places for snakes to dwell. Here we will teach you how to prepare yourself and your children for potential snake encounters.
- Be on the lookout for snakes as your kids play outdoors. Keep a watchful eye on brushy areas, tall grassy fields, and murky water. If you see a snake, calmly notify those around you, and back away from it. It is important to avoid panicking.
- Remind kids to watch where they step, and where they reach. Snakes often seek out hiding places such as under rocks, in log piles, or in piles of leaves as protection from predators. Be sure that your kids are aware of this, and are careful where they place their hands.
Back when I lived in Arizona, I took my son out in his stroller for morning walks in the park. One morning, we were walking when I noticed a rattlesnake sunning itself on the sidewalk. I was terrified at the time – this was before I knew anything about snakes – but I tried to stay calm. I pulled his stroller backwards, and watched as the snake slithered off into the desert. It was just as scared as I was.
-Dina Pittman, TXSI co-founder
Be a teacher.
- There are many lessons that children ought to know about snakes. First, and most importantly, teach them to always avoid snakes in the wild. Even though the majority of Texas snakes are harmless and non-venomous, children should not be encouraged to approach them.
- Kids ought to know the types of snakes to especially avoid. Teach them how to identify the four types of venomous snakes in Texas. You can learn with them by reading our Snake of the Day blog posts – this is a great way to teach kids who are interested in reptiles about the wide variety of wild snakes found in Texas.
Protective clothing and shoes.
- A seemingly harmless place, such as a neighborhood creek, can actually be a habitat for venomous snakes such as Cottonmouths (Water Moccasins). Be sure to have your kids dress in protective clothing and shoes when visiting these types of places.
- Long pants and boots are good choices for snake-safe clothing. If swimming in a lake, have alternative shoes to wear on shore, especially if the surrounding area is wooded. Snakes may live in the land around these bodies of water.
- Examples of potential snake habitats:
- Long-grassy plains
- Creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes (on shore and in the water)
- Wooded areas (leaf piles, under rocks, in logs, etc.)
- Deserts & rocky areas
- In the video below, watch how the Cottonmouth’s color blends in to the soil. Keep a careful eye out for these snakes near water:
Practice snake safety.
- Especially with younger children, it is important to practice snake safety.
- Penny Whitehouse has a great idea for a snake safety game. Hide a fake “snake” in the yard, and have them practice pretending that it is real. This should involve them holding still, and then calmly retreating from the snake. You may want to have them practice telling you that they saw the snake, so that they will remember to tell an adult when they see a real snake.
- These little exercises are great for young kids, because they can learn by doing. This will help reinforce any lessons you teach them about staying safe around snakes.
With the proper preparation, you and your kids can venture outdoors with confidence. Go out, have fun, and remember to respect all wildlife!
Despite the danger that these animals pose, we encourage you to treat them with respect. Like any wild animal, these snakes are vital to their ecosystems. Mass-hunting events such as the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup spread a message of violence and animal cruelty. To learn more about snakes in Texas, or to help us spread positive snake education, join our email newsletter list: