As temperatures rise in South Florida, snakes become more active during snakebite season.nEvery year from April to October, the number of snake bites spike due to the warmer temperatures. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Venom Response Team is sending a warning to residents to protect themselves and their pets from four venomous snakes that live in South Florida. The snakes to be on the lookout for are the Water Moccasin (or Cottonmouth), Coral Snake, Pygmy Rattlesnake and Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. They are mainly seen in rural areas in the early morning and early evening hours. WHY ARE SNAKES SO DEADLY? Snakes are classed as ectothermic creatures. This means that they rely on the warmth of the sun to control their body temperature and hence to move around. During the winter months, the weather is too cold so snakes go into hibernation. As the weather starts to heats up, we will be seeing more and more snakes coming out of hibernation and moving around. At this time, snakes contain very concentrated venom, making every bite potentially deadly to our pets. It is not uncommon to find a snake wondering around the lakes, in our backyards and even in long grasses close to dog walking paths. WHY DO DOGS AND CATS GET BITTEN? Our pets are naturally curious. This means that it is normal for them to want to go and explore new things that may appear along the way, snakes included. When a snake sees something as large as a dog or cat running towards them, they automatically try to defend themselves. To do this, snakes aim and bite their attackers. Unfortunately, for our pets one bite is usually enough to make them very unwell. WHAT DOES THE SNAKE VENOM DO TO OUR PETS? Snake venom is designed to go from the tissue under the skin and into the blood system. From there, the venom then goes on to cause multiple issues. Common signs you will notice when your pet is bitten will include nausea or vomiting, bleeding from the bite site, generalized discomfort, swelling of the area bitten, shaking or muscle twitching, dilated pupils and collapse. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR PET IS BITTEN? If you think your pet may have been bitten by a snake, treat the situation like an emergency and follow these three steps! 1- DON’T panic 2- keep your pet as still and as quiet as possible 3- Get them to the Vet hospital ASAP! TREATMENT The success of treatment of any form of snake bite is dependent on multiple factors. These include how much venom was ingested, how long it has been since the bite, how active the dog or cat was after the bite and how soon treatment is started. The first and most important treatment is anti venom. Anti venom is designed to bind the venom left floating in the blood to stop it causing further damage to the body. Alongside this, snake bite victims require symptomatic treatment for all other signs they may be showing. For example, if the patient is having difficulty breathing, they will require oxygen. Every snake bite patient is treated as an emergency for at least 24 hours after being bitten by a snake. In severe cases, treatment for a snake bite can continue for up to 1-2 weeks. Please be aware of your surroundings, if out for walks with your pets keep them on leashes. Keep your yard free from clutter where snakes can hide and keep grass cut so they can be seen. Again if your dog or cat is bitten, please keep them calm as possible and seek medical attention immediately, time is of the essence.