The most commonly seen snake in our area is the prairie or western rattlesnake. This has been a “banner” year for rattlesnake spotting in our area. Zell found one in mid-June, curled up just beyond where he was sitting on the ground, petting Coda. A few weeks later, I was coming up a hill near the house after a hike with the dogs and we almost stepped on one under a tree. In both cases, Zell was able to “escort” the snake to a far-away wash. He uses a long hiking stick to get under the snake, which drapes itself over the stick. He then moves it to a bit further away from the house. (A rattler can’t strike if it’s not coiled.) He developed and perfected this technique when he was a volunteer hawk enumerator at the Dinosaur Ridge Hawk Watch in Morrison, CO–a place with numerous snakes sunning themselves in the spring sunshine. Below is a short video of Zell escorting a rattler out of one of our dog runs.
And below is an even shorter video clip of a rattler being a rattler just before Zell escorted it out of the dog run.
Healthy adults rarely die from a rattlesnake bite, especially if they receive prompt medical attention. We had a young dog (who is no longer with us, but for other reasons) bit by a rattler as well; it looked like only one fang made contact on his nose. It was a long night before we could get him to the vet–his face swelled up dramatically and he was having trouble breathing. But luckily, the nose doesn’t have as many blood vessels in it to carry the toxin to the rest of the body (unlike our neighbor’s dog’s bite in the blood-vessel-rich thigh). That night, we did one good thing and one bad thing to try to help him (and us) through the night. The good thing–we gave him a dose of Benadryl for the allergic reaction; the bad thing–we gave him aspirin for the pain (which thins the blood and could have made the situation much worse). By the time we could get him to the vet in the morning, he had passed the crisis stage and we mostly just treated him to prevent infection.
© 2008 Tina Mitchell