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      The Nature Report: Rattlesnakes Emerge

      It TMs that time of year, when the things that crawl begin to merge from their wintry rest.

      Diamondback rattlesnakes are becoming active as the days begin to warm, and it is best to watch your step in the South Texas wildlands. But if you do happen to be struck by a rattler, quickly getting proper medical attention is the best advice. Pat Burchfield with the Gladys Porter Zoo has some advice.

      Probably your number one thing in snake bite protection is your car keys, and if you are by yourself you need to calmly get yourself to the hospital, Burchfield said. Experts agree, don TMt waste time trying to suck the venom out or applying a potentially dangerous tourniquet. The snake bite anti serum is the only known way to neutralize the toxic compounds in rattlesnake venom, Burchfield said. Western diamondbacks that can stretch in excess of seven feet pack plenty of deadly venom, but they don TMt always use it, and approximately a quarter of all bites are dry with little or no venom injected. In the United States each year we have roughly 14 people die of venomous snake bites of the 7,000 that are bitten, Burchfield said. However, serious muscle and nerve damage can occur, and all venomous snakebites should be treated professionally. Most snake bites occur when a person tries to kill or catch a snake, if they just leave them alone the snake will go it TMs own way 99 percent of the time, Burchfield said.