NATCHITOCHES PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Within a week, 2 Natchitoches Parish residents have been bitten by snakes.
Back on July 20, deputies were called to the 100 block of Cat Island Road near Derry, Louisiana on reports that a 56-year-old was bitten. The victim reportedly told authorities he was walking in his yard after sunset when he suddenly felt a sharp bite on one of his ankles.
When the victim reached down to check his ankle, he said he saw a 16-inch snake.
Deputies and EMS have yet to confirm the species of snake, but say it was believed to be a cottonmouth water moccasin.
Less than a week later, deputies were called to 2700 block of Robeline-Provencal Road near Robeline after reports of another snake bite. The victim in this case was reportedly cleaning his yard when he was bitten on the arm by what deputies believe was a ground rattler snake.
Both victims were taken to Natchitoches Regional Medical Center for treatment and are expected to recover.
Since the incidents, KSLA News 12 reached out to Micha Petty with the Louisiana Exotic Animal Resource Network (LEARN) on whether the excessive heat has anything to do with more snakes being out this time of year and if there is anything residents can do to try and avoid being bitten.
"Snakes are not wanting to bite anyone," said Petty.
There are 30 species of snakes in Northwest Louisiana and of those, only 5 are venomous.
Petty believes snakes are a species that are misunderstood and have an undeserved reputation.
While the heat itself isn't necessarily to blame for more snakes being out, the reptiles are prone to potentially be more aggressive in the summer rather than winter. That's because people are more active in the warm months and are more likely to find the reptiles hiding or people are simply not aware of their surroundings when outdoors.
"They're more scared of you than you are of them," said Petty.
He said most snakes strike as a reflex when they feel threatened.
"They're not trying to come after you, they're trying to get away from you," Petty explained. "Just leave the animal alone, the snake is just trying to live its life."
Petty also has some tips for people who want snake-free yards.
1. Don't have an inviting place for them to hide: Keep your yard manicured and free of debris.
2. Don't feed them: If you have small vertebrate animals such as mice and rats in, around or under your house, the chances of you coming across a snake is greater.
While most residents' first instinct is to kill the slithering intruder, your chances of being bitten while trying to kill the animal are higher. If you do come across a snake in your yard, chances are it's just passing through and you should leave it alone.
Should you find a snake in your home, Petty says the best thing to do is try to capture it in a tall object, such as a trashcan, and release it in a safe area outside and away from your house.
You can also call a licensed wildlife abatement professional to remove it for you.
The Louisiana Exotic Animal Resource Network is also licensed to safely remove the unwanted guest.
Click here for a list of wildlife rehabilitators in Louisiana.
LEARN is a non-profit rehabilitation and adoption facility in NWLA. The organization provides rescue and rehabilitation services to exotic and indigenous animals as well as conservation education.
While there is no charge for adopting an exotic animal from LEARN, those interested are required to undergo an interview process.
For more information about LEARN, how to donate, foster, volunteer, etc., click here.