Why I Don’t Live in Fear of Rattlers

Safely behing my window screen, I captured the blurry image of a rattlesnake making a hasty exit.

Last Saturday night, Lee and I came home from a delicious Mexican dinner. I got to the door first and opened it, letting the deluge of dogs run toward Lee in the garage. I detected non-dog movement, and looked to the right side of the porch, where a three-foot (or so) rattlesnake was briskly making its way away from the commotion.

I took a good look, and yelled to Lee, “Rattlesnake on the porch! Enter from the left!” and he encouraged the dogs to make a wide turn as they ran back into the house unscathed.

I snapped the non-great shot above, and later posted in on Facebook. I sure got a LOT of responses there and in person! People said:

  • I could have DIED!
  • I should have shot it.
  • I should have beaten it with a sharp object (that was the neighbor, in person)
  • My dogs could have DIED.
  • It probably has a mate and will produce lots of babies!

I guess much of that was true, but by now, I’ve had enough experience with these guys to not be as frightened of them as many people are. This knowledge also helps:

…rattlesnakes rarely bite unless provoked or threatened; if treated promptly, the bites are seldom fatal. (Wikipedia, “Rattlesnake“).

Diamondback Rattlesnake found at the Rattlesnake House, of all Places.

They also don’t strike unless coiled, and this one (nor the others I’ve seen lately) were coiled. I always have had plenty of time to just walk away from them. And I didn’t really want to kill this snake. Thanks to the kingsnakes around out house (who eat rattlesnakes), I’m pretty sure the rattlers nest a ways from the house, like on the other side of the road near the Rattlesnake House.

But, take it from Wikipedia’s references, I’m not in horrible danger here at the Hermits’ Rest:

Rattlesnakes tend to avoid wide-open spaces where they cannot hide from predators, and generally avoid humans if they are aware of their approach. Rattlesnakes rarely bite unless they feel threatened or provoked. A majority of victims (about 72%) are males, often young and intoxicated. Around half of bites occur in cases where the victim saw the snake, yet made no effort to move away. (Ibid. emphasis mine)

“Rattlesnakes tend to avoid developed areas, preferring undisturbed, natural habitats,” which tells me that our large house and busy busy dogs are not an ideal spot for them. There is plenty of empty land and places for them to hide, well away from our house. The abandoned houses nearby are perfect spots, warm, and full of hidey-holes.

But there’s this:

In more heavily populated and trafficked areas, reports have been increasing of rattlesnakes that do not rattle. … Non-rattling snakes are more likely to go unnoticed, so survive to reproduce offspring that, like themselves, are less likely to rattle. (Ibid.)

It just doesn’t pay to be a loud snake in an urban area, I guess. That’s why I always look for the slight movements. To be honest, my main fear is that the horse will step on one or get one riled up when I’m riding.

The dogs might find them, too, but we do have all the dogs vaccinated. This shot supposedly doesn’t prevent the poison from hurting them, but delays its action to give you time to get them to a vet. At least, that’s the claim. They may not work. But hey, if they do, we have helped, at least a little.

We are in good shape, vet-wise (and human doctor-wise, too; we are only 15 minutes from an emergency room, even though we are in the country). Anti-venom is within reach!

So, I’m not deathly afraid of rattlesnakes (probably less thrilled with copperheads, which seem to be found more on the other side of the county). I know how to avoid where they like to be, and know to get out of the area if I run across one. That’s easy.

Also easy is mowing the long grass around the house. Lee did that yesterday. Nowhere to hide for Snakey!

[Next time I will discuss snakes and chickens.]

Addendum: Here’s a really helpful article for those of you who want to discourage snakes around their property in a humane way. Snakes do more good than harm, remember.



Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

2 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Live in Fear of Rattlers”

  1. Here’s a Facebook comment from Connie Davis, who said I could share it:
    Good comments. I understand different snake species bite (or not), rattle or not, and present venom at different lethal levels. I have taken my granddaughter to the Sternberg Museum in Hays, KS, where there are 27 species of live rattlesnakes in captivity, one terrarium after another. It’s amazing. On each species is a message as to where the snake’s locality is, average size, liability for aggressiveness, and someone has rated each snake’s venom for deadliness. It’s a captivating educational zoo or serpentarium.
    So it is a good thing to know your own variety of poisonous snakes.

    That said, two weeks ago, my uncle who lives alone 12 miles in the country encountered a very angry and coiled and rattling rattlesnake (not sure the variety) by surprise at his mailbox. He was forced to make several considerations and this rather mild natured man chose to rid himself and his two other neighbors’ mailboxes of an accidental danger. He was not talented in capturing and relocating the snake like most farmers do with non-poisonous snakes. So he “dropped a holding concrete block” to hold the snake and went several yards back home for a shovel and a rake. He was reverent and respectful but had to consider whether he wanted to take future chances of surprise by himself or whether his neighbors might also have this happen. Afterward, he mowed weeds for yards around the mailboxes and will reconsider going to his mailbox in less protective clothes such as what he was wearing that day.


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