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Country Discussion Topics
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Rattlesnakes
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Jill    Posted 03-08-2004 at 10:28:13       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Okay, I have a question. My fiance accepted a position as a ranch hand in SouthWest South Dakota. I know they have rattlesnakes there and I am not too afraid of them but I want to prevent bites before they happen. I was told by a rattle snake handler that they normally strike 6-8 inches above the ground. He said if you have a good pair of leather cowboy boots you should be ok. So, my question is, what are some good brands? Right now we live in the city where I have never had to worry about rattlesnakes except for going fishing up in South Dakota. But, we never see them, we just keep a watchful eye. Now, since I will be living there, doing ranch chores and such both during the day and night, I just want to take precautions because we have to mow the place too. They told us they see them around but they don't bother anyone much. I already wear boots but the western stores here don't know what to tell me about a real good brand for out there. I would prefer to just wear good boots and be cautious. The nearest hospital is over 30 miles away. Another thing is, does anyone know if that snake a way, snake repellant works? I have 2 shelties that are indoor dogs but when they need to go to the bathroom outside, I don't want to have to worry too much about them. They say it has a 91% effective rate for rattlesnakes. Has anyone used this before? We have 4 nephews and neices that will be staying with us once and a while too. We want to try and prevent things from happening, we don't believe you can be too cautious. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks a bunch.. Jill & Bill


Linda in UT    Posted 03-09-2004 at 00:43:49       [Reply]  [No Email]
I used to live in Montana. I think the rattlesnakes there are probably cousins to the ones in the Dakotas.

When I moved to a new house in the middle of nowhere, the oldtimers told me if I kept my yard watered, the rattlesnakes would find a drier place to hang out. They were right. Once I got the yard area cleared and grass planted, we only saw rattlesnakes around the house if I slacked off on the watering. You don't have to drown your yard; just keep it moist.

My 24 year old horse is an expert at spotting rattlesnakes. My 7 year old arab is the same. Both horses will start staring at a spot where there is a rattlesnake long before I spot one. So, put those boots to use and get on a horse!

As many rattlesnakes as there were around my place in Montana, and there were a lot of them, we had little trouble with them. They especially like rocky, south facing areas. You just get to know where to expect them and what to do. Don't get too bothered by the whole idea. You'll do fine.



Dieselrider    Posted 03-08-2004 at 15:13:38       [Reply]  [No Email]
TD from Tenn covered most of it pretty well, but here is a couple things. The average person will not die from one bite from the average rattlesnake. There isn't enough venom for to kill the average size adult. Like TD said most people die of shock or cardiac arrest trying to flee the scene. Rattlesnakes are deaf, they cannot hear their own rattle. The only reason they rattle is the nerves in the tail start working overtime when they get nerveous. A black snake will do the same tail twitching motion when cornered, I've seen it. Those pits on their heads are heat sensors. They can tell the size and location of small rodents (which is what they feed on)from several feet away, and they follow the heat trail after they bite such an animal. Also, do not try to suck the poison out of a wound if someone is bitten. That will not help, as your blood stream moves way too fast for the poison to be vacumed out. Unless you suprise a rattler suddenly they will do their best to avoid you. They don't like people because people are mean. By the way that sounds like a great oportunity and a great job he's got. Good luck.


Burrhead    Posted 03-08-2004 at 14:21:05       [Reply]  [No Email]
One thing that may be confusing folks at yer local boot store is that with a regular pair of leather boots rattlers bite right thru the leather and can't get loose from it. If leather would ward off snake bites then cows and hosses would'nt get snake bit.

Regular mothballs or creosote do the same snake repelling that the snakeaway stuff does, only a heck of a lots cheaper.

I would'nt worry about the dogs and snakes at potty time. Most times a dog won't attack the snake unless you siceem on it, then they get bit pretty bad cause they're trying to do what they think you want done.

I been snake bit 4 times, (3 moccasins and 1 copperhead) and believe me on one thing......them old wives's tales for prevention of that kinda stuff works just fine around the beer joint or gabbing at the poker table where there aint much danger from snakes but they aint worth a tinker's cuss in real life.


T D in Tennessee    Posted 03-08-2004 at 14:01:16       [Reply]  [No Email]
studied herpetology in college (study of amphibians and reptiles) so I have a fair amount of knowledge on snakes. Rattlesnakes are one of the more docile (tame, easy going) snakes that there are. Most of the time they will get away from you if there is any way possible. Most of the people bitten were fighting at the snake. Give them a wide berth. An exeption to this is when they are molting the skin over their eyes and in effect go blind. They are more easily aroused at this time. They can't bite throught leather so any good leather boot should do fine. Also I have never heard of anyone being bitten over 8" off the ground. Maybe by a huge diamondback but I don't think that they are in N. D. If you happen to be bitten, don't get excited (easy for me to say) and go to the hospital. More people die from allergic reactions to anti venom than from actual rattler bites. You should have NO problems with them if you just watch out for them and if you see one, LEAVE IT ALONE. For what its worth, there you go.


Michael M    Posted 03-08-2004 at 14:20:13       [Reply]  [No Email]
Yep, I was going to post, but TD about covered it. We have timber rattlers here, and black rattlers. Also got copperheads. The rattlers I have encounteres were trying to leave the area. I got a picture of one big fella, about seven feet long, head near as big as my hand.
Now, the copperheads are a lot different. They are a lot more aggressive. They are not anywhere near endangered here, so I kill them on sight, especially if they are near the house.
Copperheads are also territorial I believe, where rattlers are mor nomadic. They also mate and stick together. Anytime I kill one, I wait and watch, and have always found the mate soon after.I have to be especially careful of the copperheads, as they like the same areas that I do, and often try to nest in piles of wood.
For what it is worth, I have seen dogs and horses get snake bit, and live through it just fine. The dummies usually get bit right on the nose, sniffing the varmints.Humans usually live through it too, but get pretty sick. As TD mentioned, the treatment for a snake bite is often more dangerous than the bite itself. I got nicked on the hand by a copperhead when I was a kid. Got pretty sick, but was fine within twenty four hours. Bee stings have never bothered me since that either. I am told it is the same venom.
I work in the hills all of the time, and wear nine inch work boots. I do keep my eyes open real sharp for the varmints though, and carry a .410 derringer for them. I have never had to shoot a rattler, just the copperheads.
Heh, well, I guess I posted anyway. Sorry for being so long winded today.


Clipper    Posted 03-08-2004 at 10:55:17       [Reply]  [No Email]
Cordova makes good boots that should fill the bill for you on comfort,wearability,and protection.

As fer the pooches I'd touch bases with a local Vet in the area and possibly get the anti-venom serum for them AND have him show you how to administer it effectively if needed.

As for the kids mebbe consider tight-fenceing a area fer the little one's ta romp in...never seen a rattler jump a 4 foot high tight-woven fence.:^) And them snakes are good eating.Local folks outta be able to give you directions fer cleaning/cooking em....also a good way to break the ice with yer neighbor's an possibly make good friends.

All the above is IMHO of course and not meant to offend or discriminate against any man or rattlesnake visiting this forum. :^)


Alias    Posted 03-08-2004 at 11:15:41       [Reply]  [No Email]
Clipper, I've got a few relatives that could pass as snakes in the grass. But, if any of them takes offense, I'll just tell them not to worry cuz you're a gud ole boy.

BTW, I did a little barbering my own self back there in the sixties when I was stationed at Ft. Sill. Course, it was always on credit. You know how them soldier boys are, broke by the 5th.....gfp


Clipper...LOL !    Posted 03-08-2004 at 11:24:27       [Reply]  [No Email]
Sailors are even werse when it comes ta haircut money...I started doing Barbering bout 11 years afore I retired....I only charged the Enlisted guys $2 fer a cut....Officer's paid full Base prices tho just cuz they were always a PITA. :^)

I'd always use the $$ to put on cook-outs fer the crew and provide barley pops cuz Ship's MWR Fund was prohibited from purchasing alcohol for any function.


Fern(Mi)    Posted 03-08-2004 at 10:44:17       [Reply]  [No Email]
Slice like balonea, 3/4" thick. Slowly saute them in butter. Almost come out like chicken. Delightful flavor. Used to shoot them when I vivited out there. Only had to get close with shot. Them snakes so fast, their seeing bullet coming will go after it blowing their own head off. Enjoy!


Alias    Posted 03-08-2004 at 10:59:16       [Reply]  [No Email]
First off, they have the ability to strike higher than 6 to 8 inches. Knew a real tall man that took a strike just above his knee. However that is rare.

Usually, they will slither away if they see or feel you coming. I say feel because they have poor sight and rely on feeling the vibration of footsteps on the ground.

When I was but a lad, we used to pick huckleberries on the Unaka Mt. a place known for copperheads and a few rattlers. What I found was, if you let them know you're coming and they will skedaddle. They are most dangerous when they are sleeping or sunning themselves. Good luck...gfp


SusieQ    Posted 03-08-2004 at 14:31:00       [Reply]  [No Email]
I have also heard that rattlesnakes, copperheads will also strike out when they are shedding their skins............and I understand fried rattlesnake tastes like fried chicken, anyone ever try to fix and eat snake?


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