SNAKES

David Brittain handles a western diamondback rattlesnake near Heidenheimer on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016.

A High Point Elementary student was reportedly bitten by a rattlesnake Tuesday afternoon on campus, a Temple fire spokesman said.

The student was taken to a hospital emergency room after the snake bite was reported at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the campus, 1635 Starlight Drive, Temple & Fire spokesman Santos Soto told the Telegram.

“The student was taken to the ER with a superficial wound,” Soto said.

High Point Elementary — west of State Highway 317 in the northern part of the Belton Independent School District — opened its doors in the 2013-14 school year and has dealt with snakes periodically as home construction continues in the West Temple area.

Principal Cary Zepernick sent a note to parents about a medical emergency, but did not reference a snake bite.

“I wanted to let you know that at approximately 2:00 p.m. today our campus was placed on a 45 minute “Hold” related to an individual student medical emergency,” Zepernick said in the note. “Classroom learning continued but students did not go outside for recess for the remainder of the day.”

Michael Morgan, BISD assistant superintendent of operations, said in a statement that the district is reminding students and staff to be cautious with increased wildlife activity.

“High Point Elementary has an emergency operations plan that includes hazard-specific wildlife procedures that outline preventative perimeter checks and response protocols in case of encounters,” Morgan said.

“As we enter the more active spring and summer months for wildlife like snakes, bees and fire ants, we increase reminders to all students and staff to promote awareness and caution,” he said. “Additionally, when increased wildlife activity is noted on a specific campus, the district will deploy resources to maintain a safe learning environment.”

Over the years, a snake removal expert was called in to remove several snakes at the campus, the Telegram previously reported.

David Brittain, who operated Centex Snake Removal until 2016, told the newspaper he was called in to remove the snakes at High Point in the past.

“I did remove one from the playground,” Brittain said in 2014. “That school is a new school building and it was built in a wooded area, and they’re putting in houses around that area. We’re pushing these snakes out of their environment, and that’s why we’re seeing them.”

Temple-based BMI Pest Management said calls about snakes have increased in recent days.

“More snakes are on the move,” business owner Scott Morrow said Tuesday. “It warmed up enough and they’re coming out of hibernation.”

Rattlesnakes are seen all over Central Texas, including downtown Temple, with coral snakes seen in lake areas, Morrow said.

The Salado resident said he has seen rattlesnakes in the Salado area not use their rattlers as a defense mechanism against attacks by wild boars.

He advised homeowners to remove piles of debris or wood that can attract rats, and later snakes.

Snakes are being seen further east of Temple, he said, because of generous home construction in the area.

“Anytime you have construction, massive dirt moving, you’re definitely seeing them as they’re moving out,” Morrow said.

He recommends that local residents become familiar with snakes to know which ones are venomous and which ones are beneficial to the ecosystem.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said there are 10 species of rattlesnakes in the state, with the blacktail rattlesnake among the most common in Central Texas.

Most snake bites occur from people taking foolish risks with venomous snakes, according to the agency.

“Freeze when snakes are known to be nearby until you know where they are,” TWPD said. “Allow the snake to retreat. If you must move, back slowly and carefully away from the snake.”

Last month, the agency recommended that people not touch wildlife, including snakes, emerging in the spring.

For information on snakes, visit Texas Parks and Wildlife snake page at https://bit.ly/3unHR20.