Sunday, August 8, 2010

Horse and Rider Hazard - Rattlesnakes

I have been meaning to do this post for several months now, but putting it off hoping to have some video as I have been riding two or three times a week with a video camera hoping to catch some footage of a rattlesnake. Last year I ran across only four and this year I haven't seen but one and that was dead on the road after having been run over.

In the Southern parts of the Country, Rattlesnake time is usually from April through early October, however I have seen rattlesnakes in December several times.
They den up in the winter, and in the Spring exit those dens to hunt first during the day then at night when the weather gets warmer.

I have walked and ridden over Rattlesnakes a dozen times or more, never happy about it, at all, any of those times.

During windy seasons Rattlesnakes will lay up in the leeward side of hills and rocks formations. Having no eye lids, the blowing sand irritates them. Most people are bit by Rattlesnakes after messing with them and sometimes while holding onto untrue old wife tails like Rattlesnakes have to be coiled to strike.

Most horses are probably bit by Rattlesnakes in the nose when they poke their heads down trying to figure it out. Being bitten in the nose is a big deal since Horses breathe through their noses and the resulting swelling could cut off their air. I carry a small pieces of tubing (like hydraulic hose or cooler pump water hose), coated in Nitrofurazone, wrapped in a plastic bag in my Saddle Bags. I have another set up in my Medical Bag. If one of my Horses got bit in the nose and I had the chance, I would insert the piece of hose into his nostrils to ensure they stayed open.

There is a good chance that a Rattlesnake bite is dry or only has a small amount of venom in it, if you surprise the Rattlesnake and he strikes. If you are messing with him and get bit you can rest assured to get a full load of venom.

Rattlesnake give birth to live babies, usually in late June through late July. These babies are very dangerous as they are small and harder to see; are only born with a button on the tail therefore either can't rattle as a warning or can't rattle loud enough; and, are born with a full load of venom without the ability to control how much they inject with a bit.

I've only known three men to get bit. One went to the hospital and it was a very low dose of venom - essentially dry; one cut the bite site and bled it, but still swelled up and had to be treated conventionally; and, the third hooked up jumper cables to his truck and shocked the bite site (something he read no doubt) so now he had a burn to deal with as well. If you get bit, then go to the hospital.

If you can shoot the damn thing, the do so and cut his head off and take it with you for identification of anti-venom. Make sure you pin the head and cut behind it. A "dead' Rattlesnake still can open and close his mouth and therefore bite long after his head is separated from the body. Come to think about it, I know a 15 year old girl, daughter of a friend of mine, who was picking up a "dead" rattlesnake and was bit. They had to cut her arm open from hand to elbow to relieve the swelling and this was after receiving anti-venom. Safe Journey and watch out for Rattlesnakes.

No comments:

Post a Comment