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UER Forum > UE Main > Dealing with rattlesnakes (Viewed 282 times)
Abby Normal 


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Dealing with rattlesnakes
< on 11/8/2019 9:32 PM >
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Hi all,

I've had a number of run-ins with rattlesnakes throughout my years wandering around in the desert. I had a couple of instances underground, one while hanging from a rope 100' below the surface. My closest call was just a couple of weeks ago when I stepped right next to a rattler that was sunning itself. Thankfully it was stretched out and couldn't strike. I jumped one way and he headed the other. Had he been coiled when I stepped next to him, I would have certainly gotten bitten.




Here is an interesting article by a guy who did get bit. I now realize just how lucky I was. At the time we were over three hours from the closest medical facility.

A Rattle with Death in Yosemite


That got my exploring partner and I discussing an emergency protocol we wanted to follow in case of an emergency. I carry a SPOT tracker (satellite beacon) that can summon an emergency team when activated. The problem is that my partner didn't know where I had put it, or even how to use it. All of that is on me!

My plan going forward is to always have a safety briefing to make sure everyone knows what to do if we have an emergency. I want to discuss what constitutes an emergency (when to call for help and when to activate the SPOT system), where to find it so it can be utilized by anyone in our party, personal emergency phone numbers in case we need to contact family, closest medical facility, etc.

I know it sounds a bit "over the top" but we tend to be in very remote areas doing dangerous things.


Two thoughts:

- Have you had a serious run-in with a rattlesnake?

- Do you have any kind of emergency protocol? Care to share what it is?

Abby Normal



[last edit 11/8/2019 9:33 PM by Abby Normal - edited 1 times]

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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes WARNING CONTAINS DEAD STUFF
< Reply # 1 on 11/8/2019 9:56 PM >
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Sorry but I just cant have them in my yard. I live in rattlesnake central. If theyre on my private road away from the house or out on the FM road I leave them be, But in the yard around the house ? they get a dose of number 12 shot from a smoothbore .22

This one was a good 40" but I could not get it to stay stretched out for the picture. I hate to kill critters of any kind but I cant afford the emergency room bill! My 95lb Tennessee Cur spotted this one and alerted me. I cant afford the vet bill either.



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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 2 on 11/8/2019 10:01 PM >
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Looks like a non-fatal wound but he was coming right at me most of the pellets went straight through its head and stopped under the skin behind the left jaw and in the neck and it was lights out. (very low power round)

To answer your second question we are a good 50mi from a half assed ER and that gives us enough time to drive there. That's the best treatment don't use old the old "cut & suck" treatment or tourniquets. Large ice pack can slow the spread but even that is dubious.

Anti-venin is the only cure. Bring lots of money or a couple of credit cards.



[last edit 11/8/2019 10:08 PM by 2Xplorations - edited 1 times]

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blackhawk 

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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 3 on 11/8/2019 10:48 PM >
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Rattlers are perhaps the most highly evolved snake on the planet. They form lifelong bonds with their siblings unlike other snakes.

Rattlers aren't aggressive unless provoked to anger.
An angered rattler will give you a heavy dose of venom... walk away and leave it be.
Rattlers will not waste venom on you unless -you- force them to.
They will take a defensive posture if they feel threatened as turning tail on a predator for them means death.
That defensive posture is not being aggressive!
They can sense your body heat starting at about 4 feet out.
Their IR targeting skills at close range are precise enough to make kills in total darkness with small rodents.
The kill rodents and as such are beneficial.

Never handle a rattler by hand or try to kill one; almost all bites are caused like this. If you keep your body heat away from them and handle them with a snake or walking stick they will usually ignore you and allow you to relocate them. I've done it over half a dozen times, some didn't even rattle once.
Their camo is second to none in even short grass. In sand they have trouble sensing your foot falls; keep an eye open for them as they may not warn you by rattling.

Unless you can ID it for sure, treat all snakes as venomous. Simply walk around it. Look before you stick your hand into or under any place a snake might be... make this a habit.

Aggressive snakes aren't found in north America.
The Mumba, the Aussie Fierce and Brown snake are aggressive snakes. They will chase you and deliberately try to kill you.
The rattler on the other hand just wants to be left alone.




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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 4 on 11/8/2019 11:07 PM >
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Posted by blackhawk

Aggressive snakes aren't found in north America.
The Mumba, the Aussie Fierce and Brown snake are aggressive snakes. They will chase you and deliberately try to kill you.
The rattler on the other hand just wants to be left alone.


They don't need to be aggressive if you accidentally put your hand near one clearing brush for example my neighbor got hit they had to take off a lot of skin his scars prove it his hand looks pretty gnarly i.e. disfigured.

Youre right they are pretty docile but we are trespassing in their world where I live and even livestock gets hit if they step too close to one.

`~~~~~~~~@"




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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 5 on 11/8/2019 11:12 PM >
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Heres one I nearly stepped right on while UERing up close and personal he was coming sliding right to me flicking his tongue trying to smell my awesome manly human aroma I reckon


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blackhawk 

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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 6 on 11/9/2019 12:05 AM >
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Posted by 2Xplorations
Heres one I nearly stepped right on while UERing up close and personal he was coming sliding right to me flicking his tongue trying to smell my awesome manly human aroma I reckon


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435051.jpg (127 kb, 800x533)
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Yeah, accidentally stepping accidentally on one is my worst worry with them.
Generally if you step near one they will warn you by rattling.
Even then a dry bite maybe the only damage inflicted as they don't needlessly waste venom.
An unexpected warning rattle is unnerving; had it happen twice to me.
Both times the snake was under my van. Once at night and once near high noon in a parking lot in the desert. They can be active during the day!
Again avoid provoking them; slowly move away. That can be harder when you can't see exactly where it is, lol.
Both of the ones under my van I relocated about a hundred feet away; no harm, no foul.

One of the worst places to have envenomated is the hand or worse finger. Expect to loose use of or maybe the finger... even with prompt treatment.
A calf bite not as bad unless it's low into the Achilles tendon; that would have a very bad outcome. Always wear high top boots...

I'm far more afraid of kissing bugs (specifically the parasites they carry) and the pack rat nests that help to house them.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Larger rattlers prey on pack rats*...

I respect these highly evolved predators and leave them to do what they evolved to do; kill rodents.


*Having been a repeated victim of pack rat wire nibbling and even a hasty nest building on my 302, I welcome all the rodent control I can find.
3 pack rats have cost me far more time and trouble then all the rattlers combined.
Truth be told I have enjoyed my limited interactions with the rattlers immensely. They be cool.




[last edit 11/9/2019 12:09 AM by blackhawk - edited 1 times]

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Abby Normal 


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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 7 on 11/9/2019 4:00 AM >
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Posted by 2Xplorations
Sorry but I just cant have them in my yard. I live in rattlesnake central. If theyre on my private road away from the house or out on the FM road I leave them be, But in the yard around the house ? they get a dose of number 12 shot from a smoothbore .22

<snip>



I understand completely! I wouldn't let them live around my house either. I grew up right at the edge of a large block of desert so we had to occasionally kill rattlers. We almost lost one of our dogs to bite in the neck. Rattlers and civilization don't cohabitate well.


Apart from that, I have a "live and let live" philosophy about rattlesnakes. They are an important part of the local ecological balance.

The only thing I kill on sight is a black widow. I have a bit of a phobia about them.

Abby





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Aran 


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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 8 on 11/9/2019 4:49 AM >
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Posted by Abby Normal

The only thing I kill on sight is a black widow. I have a bit of a phobia about them.


I feel like a bite that will make you wish it killed you makes fearing them less of a phobia and more of an exercise in common sense




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Dee Ashley 


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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 9 on 11/13/2019 1:30 AM >
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I think of rattlesnakes as nature’s way of telling me to pay attention! There’s nothing more sobering than walking along on your merry way only to suddenly realize there’s a snake a couple feet away from you. This has happened to me more than once.
The first time it happened I was seven years old and barefoot. I saw a baby copperhead as I was in mid-stride about to step on it and was able to pull back my foot. Had I stepped on that snake there is a good chance I would have died given my small size and I weighed probably 30 pounds back then.
This is one hazard I probably don’t look out for enough given the multitude of poisonous snakes where I live.




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blackhawk 

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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 10 on 11/13/2019 3:10 AM >
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Posted by Aran


I feel like a bite that will make you wish it killed you makes fearing them less of a phobia and more of an exercise in common sense


Widows are harmless unless you inadvertently crush one.
Pin or crush one, they will bite... self defense.
Their distinct webbing warns of their presence.
Shake out shoes before putting on if they are around

They are very shy and meek in manner.
If you touch or try to touch one, she will either run away or ball up and play dead. They never attack*.
I "kept" one as a pet in the garage door this summer, careful not to damage her web.
She was fun to watch.
You realize they are quit the engineer if you watch how they use their web. No other spider does what they do with their webbing prey manipulation.
Their bite while extremely painful is not fatal for a healthy adult.
Very few people are bitten by these spiders because of their passive nature.


*This applies to the classic North American Widow. They also have colorful desert camo variant out in the deserts of West Texas but their habits are the same.
Brown Widows are a different species. These are said to be more aggressive and originated from Africa if I recall correctly.
Never played with these; they aren't found in this part of the US.




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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 11 on 11/17/2019 6:27 PM >
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Posted by 2Xplorations
Heres one I nearly stepped right on while UERing up close and personal he was coming sliding right to me flicking his tongue trying to smell my awesome manly human aroma I reckon


1.
435051.jpg (127 kb, 800x533)
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Wow, he's a big one! Is that the same one as the dead one you posted?




I wandered till the stars went dim.
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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 12 on 11/17/2019 10:33 PM >
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Posted by Dee Ashley


Wow, he's a big one! Is that the same one as the dead one you posted?


No this one was allowed to go on its way (after I got out of its way) it was up on the old Keith Ranch and I had no reason to whack it.

The one I killed was hangin out in my yard. I have to draw the line there.

I was kinda keeping score. First year here killed one rattler and 15 copperheads in my yard.

Second year no rattlers 13 copperheads.

Third year I lost count around 12 copperheads and one stupid baby rattler on my friggin porch!

Fourth year I had stopped counting but something like 5 copperheads and no rattlers.

Fifth year 2 or 4 copperheads no rattlers

Sixth year 3 rattlesnakes one copperhead

Seventh year no count recorded but I think we had one copperhead and one rattler

Eighth year 2 small rattlers and the big 39"+ rattler

I thought that was big my neighbor a couple miles away just killed a 54" rattler in his yard.




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Aran 


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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 13 on 11/18/2019 7:57 AM >
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Interesting fact, rattlesnakes are actually beginning to evolve to not use their distinctive rattle when threatened. This is actually due to selective pressure from humans killing all the rattlers they find, which naturally are the ones that rattle. This puts artificial selective pressure on the population in favor of the snakes that do not rattle, making quiet snakes the more evolutionary fit snakes in an environment where being loud gets you killed.

So I totally get killing them in your yard- they are a danger so close to the house and medical care is often quite a ways away. But for all those who shoot them, try to leave them alone if they're outside your property- otherwise you'll just end up with a bunch of silent rattlesnakes in a few decades.




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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 14 on 11/18/2019 8:06 AM >
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Posted by 2Xplorations


No this one was allowed to go on its way (after I got out of its way) it was up on the old Keith Ranch and I had no reason to whack it.

The one I killed was hangin out in my yard. I have to draw the line there.

I was kinda keeping score. First year here killed one rattler and 15 copperheads in my yard.

Second year no rattlers 13 copperheads.

Third year I lost count around 12 copperheads and one stupid baby rattler on my friggin porch!

Fourth year I had stopped counting but something like 5 copperheads and no rattlers.

Fifth year 2 or 4 copperheads no rattlers

Sixth year 3 rattlesnakes one copperhead

Seventh year no count recorded but I think we had one copperhead and one rattler

Eighth year 2 small rattlers and the big 39"+ rattler

I thought that was big my neighbor a couple miles away just killed a 54" rattler in his yard.



God, 54" is almost an Anaconda, lol. Okay, maybe not, but that's really big for a rattlesnake!

I see more water moccasins than copperheads. Snakes are common around here despite the fact I'm in the suburbs. A copperhead put my neighbor in the hospital for three days and killed her dog in her own garage. I haven't seen a live copperhead (I've seen a couple of dead ones) on my property, but the moccasins love the still water that sits nearby on the golf course behind me. I live near our city lake's floodgates, so if the floodgates aren't open, that water just sits there and makes a home for mosquitos, weird looking amphibious creatures and ... snakes.

By the way, that seems like an astounding number of copperheads you find on your property each season! Just out of curiosity, why do you think their numbers have dropped so much in the last couple years?

(edit)
I have not seen a rattlesnake since I left California back in 2010.



[last edit 11/18/2019 8:09 AM by Dee Ashley - edited 1 times]

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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 15 on 11/18/2019 8:12 AM >
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Posted by blackhawk
. . .

. . . Aggressive snakes aren't found in north America.
The Mumba, the Aussie Fierce and Brown snake are aggressive snakes. They will chase you and deliberately try to kill you.
The rattler on the other hand just wants to be left alone.


I've actually seen a water moccasin chase a person before. I've always heard that they are more aggressive than rattlers and copperheads, but I might not have believed the chasing part had I not seen it for myself.




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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 16 on 11/18/2019 2:57 PM >
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Posted by Dee Ashley


I've actually seen a water moccasin chase a person before. I've always heard that they are more aggressive than rattlers and copperheads, but I might not have believed the chasing part had I not seen it for myself.


Given their affinity for water are they a problem for drain explorers down south? By that token, are gators a problem for drainers in Louisiana and Florida?




The Indiana Jones franchise isn't about an archaeologist, it's about an urban explorer. If it were about archaeology there would be less adventure and more paperwork.

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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 17 on 11/18/2019 8:42 PM >
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Posted by Aran
Interesting fact, rattlesnakes are actually beginning to evolve to not use their distinctive rattle when threatened. This is actually due to selective pressure from humans killing all the rattlers they find, which naturally are the ones that rattle. This puts artificial selective pressure on the population in favor of the snakes that do not rattle, making quiet snakes the more evolutionary fit snakes in an environment where being loud gets you killed.

So I totally get killing them in your yard- they are a danger so close to the house and medical care is often quite a ways away. But for all those who shoot them, try to leave them alone if they're outside your property- otherwise you'll just end up with a bunch of silent rattlesnakes in a few decades.


Well, I have heard a different redneck version of this same old wives tale. (I heard this about 54 years ago btw) Feral hog depredation causes them raise subsequent generations that do not rattle i.e. evolve into quiet rattlesnakes.

Ok whatever.

For natural selection to work here (this is what we are talking about) there has to be a dominant genetic trait, in this case rattlesnakes that don't rattle. They survive to pass on their "non rattle" genetic trait to subsequent generations that allegedly inherit that trait. In this case because hogs didn't eat them thus ending their family propensity for rattling.

Im not buyin it. Rattlers rattle to warn a threat to stay away. Not because they don't want to envenomate you but because they prefer to avoid a fight. If they don't rattle its because they don't feel threatened.

(disclaimer: I am not a herpetologist and I don't play one on TV)




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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 18 on 11/18/2019 9:16 PM >
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Posted by 2Xplorations


Well, I have heard a different redneck version of this same old wives tale. (I heard this about 54 years ago btw) Feral hog depredation causes them raise subsequent generations that do not rattle i.e. evolve into quiet rattlesnakes.

Ok whatever.

For natural selection to work here (this is what we are talking about) there has to be a dominant genetic trait, in this case rattlesnakes that don't rattle. They survive to pass on their "non rattle" genetic trait to subsequent generations that allegedly inherit that trait. In this case because hogs didn't eat them thus ending their family propensity for rattling.

Im not buyin it. Rattlers rattle to warn a threat to stay away. Not because they don't want to envenomate you but because they prefer to avoid a fight. If they don't rattle its because they don't feel threatened.

(disclaimer: I am not a herpetologist and I don't play one on TV)



Hogs will route them by smell and digging alone.
Where the largest populations of silent rattlers are found is where humans hunt them relentlessly.
Silent rattlers is a recessive gene that is throughout the rattler population in Texas. Environmental pressure triggers the population to exhibit it or not in numbers. Silent rattlers are present in all rattler populations here but normally comprise less than 1%, I believe is the number I've heard.

Some numbskulls confuse whip snakes with rattlers as they mimic them quit well less a rattler, triangular head and pattern.
Lol, they will act quit aggressively too by charging you, then fleeing which is not typical rattler behavior. Twice I've had them go in between my legs like that. They are funny snakes.




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Re: Dealing with rattlesnakes
< Reply # 19 on 11/18/2019 9:56 PM >
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As Abby alluded to, snakes are most dangerous when coiled up. They can spring up to 1/2 of their body length.

Obviously, your first line of defense is not to get bitten at all. Don't ever stick your hands where you can't see them! Snakes are generally shy and won't attack unless provoked.

Rattlesnakes can be identified by their signature triangular head. This comes from their poison glands and heat pits on the sides of their head. Just keep your distance. I hate to see people kill snakes for sport—they are a critical part of the ecosystem.

If you get bitten, you'll want to keep calm and as stationary as possible to keep the venom from circulating. Obviously, getting yourself to the hospital is top priority. The only real cure is the antivenom, but your body can start to break some venoms on its own and mitigate the damage. There's some evidence adding heat (hot pad) to the wound may help the degradation of the venom.

Here's the famous mojave green!



This one is all stretched out and cold from the night so my friend managed to maneuver it off the road and save it from becoming roadkill. If you see one of these admire but don't touch—its has one of the most dangerous (and unique!) venoms in the world.




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