Visitors warned about snakes on Galveston's West Beach

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Visitors warned about snakes, Deborah Wrigley reports. (KTRK)

On this first full week of spring break, Galveston Island is getting a crowd. The Gulf Freeway is moving slow, and Seawall Boulevard is stop and go.

The weather in the area has given people more reason to come. No rain, comfortable temperatures, and no sightings of man-of-war jellyfish since last week. Water quality is good as well.

Now, the island is dealing with an issue that isn't new to anyone who's lived here -- snakes.

A recent Facebook post by a man on West Beach detailed a rattlesnake he encountered in a sand dune. That post generated attention but those familiar with wildlife are trying to put the sighting in context.
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As part of her story on Monday, Deborah Wrigley talked to two young snake experts.

"There has always been snakes here, in Houston backyards, and in Texas," said Trey Goodman, who's the supervisor for the Galveston Island State Park. "The issue is that somebody sees it on Facebook and it goes viral. And it scares people who've never seen a snake before because they stay indoors on their smartphones."

Goodman says that social media is blowing the snake sightings out of proportion.

"There are more snakes on Instagram and Facebook than there are out here," he added.

"Rattlesnakes are what people are worried about," said Peter Davis, of the Galveston Beach Patrol. "I live across from the dunes and it's been eight years since I've seen a snake."

Rattlesnakes are to be avoided, because they are venomous, as are cottonmouths, which are also in the area. There are helpful varieties as well, such as king snakes that can be found.

The dunes are home to snakes, and dunes are a protected habitat, so people shouldn't walk across them. Fines for doing so are expensive.

On the off-chance you should encounter a snake, walk away.

"Don't freak out," said 12-year-old Matthew, who said he saw a king snake on West Beach. "Just move on."
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