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“).
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.