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Please Don’t Ask My Toddler to Touch the Snake

My son is a toddler now, so we’re getting out to enjoy all our community has to offer. In recent months, we’ve visited three community organizations and participated in outreach and learning opportunities. They’ve been amazing. We’ve loved them. The outreach teams have been fantastic. We’ve had fun and learned so much. And it is no way my intent to detract from these incredible programs and resources.

But I have a concern.

Each time we visit, my toddler is asked if he wants to touch a snake.

Please Don't Ask My Son to Touch the Snake- Green Snake- Corpus Christi Moms Blog

Thankfully, his response has always been “no,” and this last time, we got an excited and enthusiastic, “I don’t!

I understand why that question is being asked. I understand that not all snakes are venomous. I know they play an important role in our ecosystem. I know we shouldn’t teach our kids to fear snakes. But here is my concern.

Snakes live all over North America, and especially South Texas. Their natural habitat is where we live, swim, and hike. There are more species of snakes than I care to count. Some are venomous. Most are not. But my toddler it too young to know the difference. Heck, most of us adults don’t know the difference.

I don’t want my son to be scared of snakes, but I do want him to respect them. I want him to know what to do if he sees one, and that means not to touch it.

My parents have a ranch in the country. Seeing a snake is not uncommon. It could be a grass snake. Maybe it’s a blue indigo. It could be harmless. But it could also be a rattlesnake, water moccasin, coral snake, or copperhead. None of those are snakes I want my son to mess with.

Please Don't Ask My Son to Touch the Snake- Corpus Christi Moms Blog

In recent years, my husband and I have discussed moving out into the country. Again, we think and talk about snakes. We know that if we mind our own business, snakes should leave us alone. But our toddler, who may or probably won’t listen, doesn’t know that. And that makes me nervous.

So I’ve been doing some research. How can we stay safe? How do we teach our kids about snakes? What should we do if someone is bitten? Here are some ideas.

How can we teach our kids about snakes?

Role play

One blog suggested role play to teach kids snake safety. I love this idea! Use a snake toy or other object to hide around the house or yard. When your child sees this, have them react accordingly. You can teach your child how to reach if they see a snake, and also how to use the phone and call for help if you or someone else gets bitten.

Talk about snakes when you see them in cartoons, stories, and books

We have tons of books with pictures of snakes. After all, “s” is for snake. Heck, there’s even an episode of Blaze and the Monster Machines where snakes are on the loose! Use these as teaching moments. Talk about where snakes live, what they eat, and what scares them. Talk about how we can stay safe and what to do if we see a snake.

How can we stay safe?

Wear closed toed shoes and loose fitting pants

If you are in a rural area, wear closed toed shoes and loose fitting pants. No flip flops.

Avoid areas with debris or tall grass

The times I have seen snakes have generally been under debris or in areas with tall grass. As a child, I saw two at popular watering holes in the Hill Country. I saw another, where I expected it, in a trailer bed, under a bunch of junk I was unloading at the ranch. The two others were spotted when I was walking or driving. The snakes were crossing our path and had just as little interest in me as I did in them. I gave them their space. They kept moving.

Please Don't Ask My Son to Touch the Snake- King Snake- Corpus Christi Moms Blog

Watch your step

You know that saying about a “snake in the grass?” It’s because snakes are hard to see. They blend in. Watch where you put your feet. No one likes being stepped on. Do not step or reach where you cannot see.

What should we do if we see a snake?

Stay still

Let the snake go about its business. Most snakes aren’t interested in you and want to leave you alone. Give them the chance.

Move away when it is safe

The snake wants to get away too. Stay still and let it go where it’s headed.

Do not reach out to touch, scare, or try to kill the snake

Most snake bites occur when snakes are provoked. Recently, a man in Arizona was bitten by a rattlesnake when he tried to throw it on the barbecue pit. It bit him in the face and chest. The man survived. But learn from him. Don’t do that.

What should we do if someone gets a snake bite?

If someone is bitten, immediately call 9-1-1

If you can safely recall or identify the snake, do so in case antivenom treatment is needed.

Some sites recommend taking a picture of the snake if you can, as nonvenomous snakes bite too and different snakes require different antivenom. My opinion? Be safe, stay calm, and if it slows you down, don’t let photography come before seeking medical care.

Note the time of the snake bite

Keep the site of the bite below the heart

Do not ice the wound or apply a trouniquet

This seems counter intuitive, but cooling the wound does not help. Same goes with applying a tourniquet.

Information on the following sites was helpful if you’re interested in reading more:

Snake Safety: Protect Your Kids with Education

Venomous Snake Safety from Texas Parks & Wildlife

Snake Bites and Children, Texas Children’s Hospital

Do you have experience with snakes? Have a different perspective? I’m just a mom with Google and an opinion… I’d love to hear yours!

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2 Responses to Please Don’t Ask My Toddler to Touch the Snake

  1. Stephanie
    Stephanie September 26, 2017 at 9:25 pm #

    We’ve killed everything from rattlesnakes to coral snakes to regular grass snakes in our backyard at our old house in Mathis. My husband would just show them to my daughter and we’d tell her “Ouch. They are very very dangerous.” We also worked on identifying them. We purchased the laminated field guides from HEB. Every time we walked to the mailbox she would take her field guide with her, and keep an eye out for venomous snakes and spiders. We’ve also killed Brown Recluse and Black Widows so those were equally important threats for her to learn about as a toddler. (not sure if you can click that… I’ll stick it in the website section.)

    Anyway, we DO let her touch the ones at the botanical garden or zoo presentations. If an expertly trained handler is assisting it is okay. If we are outside and it’s wild… it’s 100% never okay to touch.

    Great post topic! It’s a legit concern.

    • Beth
      Beth September 27, 2017 at 9:25 am #

      Ooh! I love these ideas!! Great insights Stephanie!! 😘