Wondrous Wildlife – March 2010

Wondrous Wildlife

By Vern and Lori Gieger

Is It Venomous? Probably not.


wonderousWe have been asked to rerun this info as to what venomous species do we have here in our area? So here is a refresher course for some, and new information for others. There are only 21 venomous species in the entire state of Jalisco—and not all of these are native to our area. Some are only found in the coastal areas.

Wasps and bees; yes this does include the infamous “killer bee.” Typically speaking, bee stings are a painful annoyance, not life-threatening. (Unless a person has an allergic reaction). The danger of “killer bees” is not that their venom is more potent; it is the number of stings received. As they swarm, and may pursue what they perceive as the threat up to a half mile.

Spiders: black widows and the violin spider both can be potentially serious.

Scorpions: Mexico has 221 species of scorpions; only seven pose a serious threat. Four are found in Jalisco, three are limited to coastal areas, one is found throughout the entire state. This particular scorpion has a dark body, with light brown legs and tail. Reactions can vary from person to person.

Snakes: There are some 82 species of snakes in Jalisco, only 13 are venomous, 69 are not! Moreover, not all 13 are found here in our area. We do have five species of rattlesnakes; of these five species three are “threatened,” two have stable populations.

There are two species of coral snakes in this area; both are in the “threatened” status. Coral snakes are small, timid snakes, rarely more than twelve inches long. Due to the coral snakes small size, bites to humans are limited to areas such as the fingers or toes. (Note: approx. 50% of defensive bites are “dry bites” meaning no venom is injected.)

The above mentioned venomous snakes are quite easy to identify even for the novice. Rattlesnakes have a rattle at the end of their tail. Coral snakes, the red band touching the yellow band applies here, as it does in the U.S. Like rattlesnakes, coral snakes are nocturnal.

There are many snakes that mimic venomous snakes in appearance, as a natural defense. King snakes and milk snakes, which are found locally, are just two examples. However, they are not venomous. In fact they are immune to venoms; therefore they are predators of venomous species.

As with any wild animal it is best to leave them alone. After all, they did not come on to your property to socialize, they are looking for food, and if none is found, they will move on.

There are many myths about snakes; here are just a couple. Snakes will chase people. No, they are just defending their territory; and typically non venomous snakes are more aggressive when they feel threatened. Some believe snakes travel in pairs and will seek revenge if one is killed; snakes have no social bonds, except during mating season, males may trail a female, snake that is. They don’t date outside their species.

If you are bitten by a venomous snake you will be able to see where the two fangs punctured the skin. In this event, forget everything you have seen in the “movies” about snakebites. Do not cut the area and try to suck out the venom, nor apply ice, take alcohol or other drugs, nor apply a tourniquet. Don’t wait to see if you get sick. Do move away from the snake. Stay calm. Seek medical help immediately!

For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com

Ojo Del Lago
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