Poison control centers have witnessed a steep rise in snakebites in parts of the country this summer, USA Today reports. Authorities in central Texas say bites are up 35%, and southern California has seen many more serious cases than usual. Some experts suspect more snakes are developing powerful toxins in their venom, although conclusive evidence has yet to emerge.
Drought conditions in central Texas are believed to be behind the increase in snakebites there this summer as snakes seek cooler areas near homes. Urban sprawl is blamed for a steady increase in snakebites in many areas in recent years. "We have seen more interactions between people and snakes because of the way we build," said one California toxicologist. "We build schools right on canyons inhabited by rattlesnakes."