Guest Blogger: Are You Ever Safe from Snakes? No.

by Mandi Shuffield
Sarge, 9 years old. He will let his boys do anything they want to him. They seem to love putting things on his head…

The weather is finally cooling off here in Central Texas! I see a lot of folks are catching up on yard work and home improvements. I know the contractors I ‘ve talked to are sure happy about not sweating to death just from stepping out of their houses! But does this mean that we should be lured into believing that the venomous snakes are not active right now? It does not!

I have seen people share a post that gives the seasons that snakes are not out at this time of year. In my experience of almost 38 years, I’d say ignore that and pretend that even when there is ice on the ground, you could find a snake.

Just be vigilant, and then you won’t have to retrain yourself this spring. Don’t get lulled into security because some zoologist somewhere says they are “less likely” to be active. That’s the key phrase there, “less likely.” That doesn’t mean there is a 0% chance of finding them. That’s especially true if you’re moving leaves, debris, or climbing under a house where it is probably sort of warm.

Classic picture of Merlin getting into trouble and running to Sarge for protection.

Night before last, our dogs started going nuts outside. They all hit the dog door like they were on fire and would not stop barking. It was their “Something is out here and we’re gonna kill it!” barking. It isn’t uncommon for feral hogs and deer to run out in the pasture, and that is usually what they’re barking at.

I called them off a few times, but they wouldn’t stop. Then about 11:30 my oldest son told me that our oldest and biggest dog, Sarge, had a big cut on his nose. “I’m sure he got too close to Patsy again.”

Then about 11:45, my son came back and said, “Mom? Sarge’s face looks like a basketball.” Sure enough, Sarge caught the business end of a rattlesnake on top of his nose. He’s been regularly vaccinated, and was taken to the vet for what she called, “The big boy medicines.” The first milestone was him surviving the initial bite. Our next will be 48 hours later to see how the venom has affected his blood.

Sarge about 8 hours after the bite. The vet has comparison pictures and it jus hit me that I should have some too. Looking at this photo, he was bitten on the right side of his nose (his left). Don’t let the picture fool you, his left is swollen way worse, than his right.

We are all very hopeful that he will be okay, and the vet is confident with the effectiveness of the vaccine. He had an unusually severe reaction, which makes her believe he would have surely died before we could have gotten him treated without the vaccine. He was not treated in this case with anti-venom, but but he is on a few medications for the next two weeks.

Please, please, please stay vigilant even in cold weather! Never, ever, ever assume that there isn’t a snake because it is cooler outside! They are holed up somewhere, and it may be where you are putting your hand! In our case, it was probably headed back to its den, or who knows what.

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 “Guest Blogger: Are You Ever Safe from Snakes? No.”

  1. Poor Sarge! And poor Mandi! It must have been terrifying for you all! I’m so glad he’s doing well. Thank you so much for the reminder! Virginia has sudden warm spells throughout the winter, and we’ve had to learn that all of the wildlife can be active at any time.

    Liked by 1 person

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