Jump to content

Rattlesnakes


JRP

Recommended Posts

If you're still in the desert SW areas, be aware the rattlesnakes are out and active early this year. I've encountered 4 in the last few weeks here at my southern NM ranch. usually I don't start seeing them until early April, about the time I start packing up to move north. A few weeks back there was a Canadian snowbird RV'er that got bitten while hiking in Gold Canyon Az. He survived but spent a week in hospital and a week in therapy regaining use of the leg.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

......................shiver, shiver. My spine just got tight as the hair (yes, hair. Singular) stands up on my neck. :blink:

 

My dad had a ranch in central Oregon that we ran our cow/calf operation on. It had several rock bluffs that were known rattler dens. Dad did a pretty good job keeping us warned about staying away from those areas. No one ever bit, and few sightings. But I have heard of those blasted things coiling up under something that one might leave outside for a few days, and when picked up again,...........................................

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Holy Guacamole, remind me again why everyone likes to go hiking in the Desert and we've been looking so forward to doing that ourselves? At least our bears and cougars are typically big enough to see just before they attack us, but usually they'll run away before it gets to that stage if we make enough noise as we travel through their terrain.

 

On a serious note, is there a recommended type/style of footwear or otherwise that is recommended when hiking in known areas of potential concern? We're concious of keeping our shoes etc inside the RV and to inspect before putting on each time, and not picking up or getting in anything (kayak) where something could have hidden itself, but any other worthwhile simple tips to ensure enjoyment and reduce risk/exposure?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have been seeing snakes early here in Florida as well. There are more cotton mouths and Pygmy rattlers, but some corals as well. Have to really keep your eyes open in the wood, and we live in the Ocala National Forest. Generally however they stay by themselves unless provoked.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jim2, I have sent you a PM.

 

I had a real close call in NM one summer. He warned me real good twice but could have hit me easily. When I first heard it I thought it was hornet or something and looked up instead of down. I was always fairly carefull but no I pay even more attention. I know they don't always warn.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are hiking do not tread lightly. Just stomp around. I always hike with at least one walking stick that I thump around a lot. Snakes cannot hear (no ears) but they can detect vibrations in the earth very well and because they swallow their food whole (as opposed to taking small bites of food like we do) they understand when they cannot eat something too big to swallow and get out of the way.

 

Snakes are ambush predators, for the most part, and you will find them under sagebrush, under logs and rocks, and sometimes next to your RV. Rattlesnakes usually make a distinctive sound but my hearing has pretty much reduced my ability to hear their rattle. If you are losing your high frequency hearing you should watch where you step.

 

Leather hiking boots that come up over your ankle provide pretty good protection.

 

On a cool morning you are likely to find snakes in the sun, on a hot afternoon they will be in the shade; probably under a bush or rock.

 

If you're on a bicycle you'll be moving too fast for them to realize you're there so be careful where you dab your foot, or where you stop.

 

If you are in a line of hikers the first one alerts the snake, the second one annoys the snake, and the third one can be the one who gets bitten (unless the snake can get away).

 

Rattlesnakes can be encountered pretty much all over the US. The only places completely devoid of them, as far as I know, are the rain forests west of the Cascade Mountains. Seattle and the Puget Sound area has no poisonous snakes but just 100 miles east they are relatively common.

 

The hills above Wenatchee, WA are famous for rattlesnakes. But a lot of people hike and bike up there and while lots of us hear them few people get bitten.

 

Keep your pets on a leash.

 

On Edit: Don't try to catch them. Most people are bitten when they try to catch or touch them. And I am pretty sure they don't taste like chicken. :P

 

WDR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funny you should mention that.. I was just thinkin the other day it was about time to pick up some more .410 shot for my derringer.

 

Footwear out the desert I generally prefer ranch or cowboy boots with steel shanks. Pretty good protection for the critters as well as the jumpin cactus.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here west of the Tucson Mountains there have been a couple of sightings in the RV park in early evening. We hike a couple of miles in the desert every day, usually early morning, but have not seen any out there yet.

 

#1 rule - never put your hand under or behind anything without looking first.

 

Interesting factoid: According to the National Park Service the vast majority of rattle snake victims are males under 25! Draw your own conclusions :rolleyes: .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you're still in the desert SW areas, be aware the rattlesnakes are out and active early this year. I've encountered 4 in the last few weeks here at my southern NM ranch. usually I don't start seeing them until early April, about the time I start packing up to move north.

 

In northern NM the snakes are still in their dens. I don't expect to see any before late April at the earliest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Interesting factoid: According to the National Park Service the vast majority of rattle snake victims are males under 25! Draw your own conclusions :rolleyes: .

 

...under 25 and men and boys! :)

 

Seriously, we've hiked the deserts for 20 years and have yet to encounter a rattler. They're not out there ready to pounce on you. We've seen a few laying on the warm blacktop as we've been driving.

 

Don't ever take a walk at dusk or nighttime without a flashlight. Never let your dog run unleashed. Just use common sense and enjoy those beautiful trails.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A friend of mine was told that you could break a snakes back by grabbing them by the tail and cracking them like a whip. Needless to say the doctor and nurse at the hospital laugh as she treated the bite on the back of his neck. Yup he was under 2 at the time.

 

regards

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When a rattlesnake is coiled up and alert even Steve Irwin (the Aussie crocodile guy) wouldn't try to touch one. And he was the best I've ever seen at being able to deal with snakes. In one show he had two out in front and he was behind a rock when suddenly the mike picked up the buzzing. Steve looked down and saw another one between his legs (he was crouched). Didn't get bit. But he sure moved carefully. In another show he crawled into a mine shaft and brought out a male and a female, both mad as hell. But soon they were calm and after he showed them to the camera he put them back.

 

Just an amazing guy. RIP

 

Craig

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK very amusing you guys and would love to be a fly on the wall Jim when Linda reads that (LOL).

 

All joking aside now, do they just tend to strike you below the calf level if you are walking along minding your own business, and they are hiding in a bush, crevice, you might brush by, or do they coil and strike higher? Where's the most common strike area on a body assuming you don't put your hands into something you shouldn't?

 

Also is leather a dense enough material to avoid fang penetration to your body? We swim/snorkel often in what's known as predator waters, but we follow the locals advice, in after 9am and out before 4.30pm or avoidance when heavy activity noted - likewise when kayaking where gators reside, we give them a very wide berth. Hiking in Bear, Cougar, Moose, Elk, and Tick Country we wear white and make a lot of noise going through. We understand risks, but we just like to reduce our exposure as much as realistically possible, without hopefully not becoming too paranoid to immerse and enjoy ourselves in the place. Apparently we have rattlers here in certain areas, but their venom is so weak, that generally speaking a healthy individual if bit by one would feel just pretty rough, whereas maybe a fragile elder or small child would have much more severe effects = well that's what we've been told anyway, and we are far from familiar with any kind of snakes personally. We've yet to actually see one, although the pipeline workers tell us of hundreds about 3ft long falling into the trenches during their night before travels.

 

In a nutshell, what is the most sensible and preventative advice regarding what to wear/do/avoid doing, when walking in desert areas? Someone referenced leather ankle boots. Is that enough or should they be higher than ankle height? Also duly noted the stick and stomping through, bit like our wild lands we make a lot of noise going through, kind of detracts from the serene ambience but sure works letting the residents know you are in their territory.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had worked for a park system in "Snake Country" for 25 years, and in that time we only had three people bitten in the parks I worked in. The first was a kid that picked up a copperhead, and guess what? It bit him. The next was a guy that was messing with a diamondback rattlesnake and, Surprise, it bit him. The last one was a guy out hiking in the park minding his own business, stepped over a bush, and got bit. It was just his time.

 

I once read an article that said that only that only 10% of the untreated snake-bite victims died. That's not to say they didn't swell up and get sick, but they didn't die. If you get bit, GET TO A HOSPITAL. Get anti-venom.

 

In that same 25 years we had one guy that was struck by lightening. He ALSO was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It happens.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The one I had a close call with was in grass/weeds maybe 2" to 3" and sparse. right at the edge of the asphalt. Of course I was walking at the right edge of the asphalt and sightseeing nature so when I made the last step the "rattle" started but in this case it was not loud or distinctive. I stepped back and looked for something in the air like a hornet. Rattling stopped so after a minute I started to pivot back with the right leg to continue. It started again and I again looked up and around but in a few seconds I realized it was coming from the ground area. When I looked down I spotted it. It was very well blended in to the surroundings even though the grass was not thick. After that I walked a little further out from the edge where the visibility was better and of course I was paying better attention. I had hosted in that park about 6 or 7 summers and had never seen a poisonous snake there even though I knew they likely were in the area. For some reason they were really out and about that summer. On fathers day the park was full with families and kids. About 10:30 am I was going through the park on my motorcycle and found a really big one crossing the road from some heavy grass and weeds near a pair of tables with lots of people including some pretty noisy small kids. All that noise was causing him to try and get away. They never even knew it. Vision is certainly your best defense. Even on some of the trails that are more open you have the best chance of seeing them first. Be cautious about stepping over logs or large rocks where you can't see. Any grass, weeds, thick low vegetation needs you to be more vigilant. I once startled a small bear that I did not see until I was about 30ft from as it was laying asleep in thin brush and blended in so well laying still I did not see it until it heard my footfall and woke up and moved. Lucky for me it was more into flight than fight which is the norm for black bears mostly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good boots, a capture stick, a snake identification guide (to avoid protected ones) and a BBQ are all you need for hiking in rattler country.

 

If you have a dog, add in a good harness and leash to be able to drag the pooch out of range.

I mostly just watch them for a while then leave them alone....

 

BUT if there are kids and pets around (populated areas)..... Don't need no identification guide.... there IS NO protection... the BBQ is lit.

 

Dave

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just can't enjoy eating a $10,000 plus (fines and lawyer fees) snake, not to mention the possibility of an extended stay at the government hotel. I know what is protected where I'm camping and don't touch it. I can move to a new campground for under $100 and I can leave it when I like instead of waiting for a deputy to unlock the door. The folks enforcing the protection laws have no sense of humor and the rules leave them little leeway in their enforcement.

 

If you do want to risk it for goodness sake don't leave footprints all over the internet for the prosecutor to Google up that show you in a bad light!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just can't enjoy eating a $10,000 plus (fines and lawyer fees) snake, not to mention the possibility of an extended stay at the government hotel. I know what is protected where I'm camping and don't touch it. I can move to a new campground for under $100 and I can leave it when I like instead of waiting for a deputy to unlock the door. The folks enforcing the protection laws have no sense of humor and the rules leave them little leeway in their enforcement.

 

If you do want to risk it for goodness sake don't leave footprints all over the internet for the prosecutor to Google up that show you in a bad light!

Stan -

 

Guess I didn't go into enough detail.... Of the large number of rattlesnakes I have encountered they have all been either watched and left where they are, or picked up and relocated (even when found in workplace areas).

 

If kids and pets are involved..... likely it MIGHT be a different situation....

 

Dave

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...