Flooding can increase run-ins with snakes, rats and other critters. Here's what to do if you encounter them

Cottonmouth snakes, like the one pictured here, have been found in floodwater in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

(CNN)Oklahoma residents are still recovering from the heavy floods that drowned the region but officials are now warning of yet another threat.

"We were just informed that Water Moccasins have been found in flood waters, please take extra precautions," the Tulsa Police Department said.
Water moccasins, otherwise known as cottonmouths, are venomous semi-aquatic snakes, according to Kimberly Andrews, an assistant research scientist with the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. They are typically between 24 to 48 inches.
Running into snakes, rats and other creatures when water rises is not uncommon, according to the University of Wisconsin.
    "Following floods, rats and other rodents may move into buildings to escape floodwaters. Snakes are often forced into places where they are not usually found. Upon re-entering flooded homes or buildings, you will need to be wary of these possibilities," the university said.
    Here's what you should do if you have an unwanted run-in:


    Do not lift debris with your hands.
    "Use a shovel or other tool to flip debris before lifting with your hands," Dr. Maureen Frank, Texas A&M University Extension Wildlife Specialist warns.
    Do not step over debris if you can't see the other side, Frank says, but start removing all of it as quickly as possible. Then make sure to mow the lawn and trim vegetation.
    Wear high boots and gloves in areas with high debris.
    If you do encounter a snake, step back and wait for it to leave.
    "As a last resort, you may need to kill a venomous snake," Frank wrote. "Use a long-handled tool, such as a garden hoe, to strike the snake in the head. Make sure the tool keeps you out of striking distance of the snake (about half its body length). Follow through with the strike. Do not jerk the tool back after striking as this may throw the snake."


    Watch out when you're entering flooded buildings, the University of Wisconsin says.
    "Check closets, drawers, mattresses, appliances, upholstered furniture, stacks of clothes or paper, dark corners, attics and basements."
    Make sure that wherever you go, you have a flashlight with you and a solid club, the university said.
    Remove all food sources, water and items that could provide new shelter for rodents, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.
    Take out your trash often and watch out for the signs: "rodent droppings, runways, rub marks and tracks," according to the CDC.
    It might also be helpful to air your home for two to three days before reentering, according to the CDC.

    Fire Ants

    Colonies of fire ants, like the ones seen here, can form "rafts" after floods.