Life in Florida offers both residents and their pets an opportunity to enjoy an active, outdoor lifestyle, filled with golfing, hiking, and water play. But the warm temperatures, lush greenery, lakes, and beaches that people and pets find irresistible also offers perfect habitat for many species of snakes.
Venomous Snake Species in Florida
Although there are 50 species of snakes found in the state, only 6 are considered venomous and capable of causing serious injury or death to humans and animals. The six venomous species are:
• Coral, including the Eastern Coral
• Copperhead, including the Southern, Highland, and Chunkhead
• Cottonmouth, including the Florida Cottonmouth and the Water Moccasin
• Timber and Canebrake Rattlesnakes
• Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake, the Pigmy Rattler, and the Ground Rattler
• Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Keeping Pets Safe Outdoors
When snakes, people, and pets share the same environment, there will always be instances of pets being bitten, but luckily they are relatively rare. This is because most snake species, including the venomous ones, will retreat if given the opportunity. Pets who encounter a snake often escape unscathed if they are quickly called or led away from the situation by an attentive owner. This is easiest when the dog has been through obedience training and is kept leashed in areas where snakes may be a problem.
What to Do When a Pet is Bitten
Not all venomous snake bites actually involve injecting the victim with venom and instead are what is known as a “dry bite.” Snakes can issue dry bites as a warning, of sorts, when they feel threatened to distract the victim and allow the snake to safely get away. Since pet owners may not be able to determine the type of bite their pet has received, they will need to do the following five things if an actual snake bite is suspected:
•Take a few seconds to get a good look at the snake so that you can help the veterinarian identify it (but never attempt to kill it or capture it)
•Calm the pet and restrain them, if possible, while helping them away from the snake
•Immediately contact a 24-hour emergency vet in Jacksonville, FL, or an emergency animal care clinic in the area
•Expect the pet to be nervous and possibly in pain, so make sure to handle the pet with caution to avoid being bitten if they attempt to lash out
•Understand that the recovery may or may not require an anti-venom, but the pet will likely need to be kept under hospital observation for 12-24 hours
While any snake bite should be considered serious, pets usually recover from them with emergency veterinary care.
Finding Additional Information About Pets and Snake Bites
For more information or concerns about your pet and snake bites, ask First Coast Veterinary Emergency, a trusted animal care provider in the Jacksonville, Florida area. Their caring staff is always ready to answer questions and offer helpful information so pet owners can keep their pets safe when exploring all the natural beauty of the Sunshine State.