As we move into warmer, wetter weather, we'll begin to see more than the return of the chirping birds and buds on the trees.


  We'll see snakes.


  Dr. Jill Heatley, a snake expert at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine says snakes have been underground all winter, and they have been as anxious as your are to have the cold weather behind them.


  "Snakes have probably been enjoying this winter weather because we have had a lot of wet, a lot more than in recent years," she said.  "So they are going to wake up and be hungry."


  Snakes hibernate during the winter, even during the relatively mild Texas winters, which means they have a heck of an appetite when they start slithering out of their holes in mid March.


  Heatley says, fortunately for us, what snakes like to eat the bugs.


  "Oh, yeah, they eat the cockroaches around your house and the other little bugs," she said.  "They're great at that.  Some of them are bug specialists."


  She says snakes don't want to tangle with you, and would just as soon slither away as come into contact with a human.  But she says your pets, especially your dogs, are at more danger of coming face to face with a potentially dangerous snake.


  "Our dogs are made for defending us, so they love sticking their noses in stuff and checking things out.  This time of year, everybody likes to get out."


  She says since this is the time of the year we start doing yard work, it pays to go cautiously into hedges, brush, and long grass, at least for the first time.  Also, wear heavy gloves and boots whenever you're trudging through underbrush that hasn't been tended for the last several months.