Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rattlesnake Season is Here Again! Vaccine Now Available

I have been meaning to do a post about Rattlesnakes since last month, as Rattlesnakes were starting to come out of their winter dens around early April here in West Texas. As the weather gets warmer and then hot, Rattlesnakes become nocturnal, moving around mostly during the night hunting for prey. They will still lay out in the early morning and late afternoon Sun soaking up the heat.

I was out in the desert riding my horse Junior this past weekend during the middle of day and spotted a snake about 40 yards from us. I jogged Junior up to it hoping to find a Rattlesnake to train Junior that these snake are trouble. I was disappointed to find a Coachwhip, who are non-poisonous.....and Good Lord are those Coachwhips fast. Once the snake knew we where there, he was off to the races.

Best scenarios for trail riding are that you can see where your horses feet are going fall. In all the desert riding I have done, in open terrain, brushy vegetation and mountainous areas, I have only surprised no more than a dozen Rattlesnakes. Unless you almost step on them, or mess with them, chances of getting bitten are slight. However, I carry a two small lengths of rubber hose (like car fuel hose) about 4 inches long each, to place in their nose to keep the airway open, just in case one of my horse's gets bitten on the nose which is a common place to get bite as horses are curious and often lead with their nose to the ground to investigate a snake. Coating the outside of the hose with vaseline or Bag Balm then sealing it in a bag is what I do.

In the June 2011 edition of Western Horseman magazine, page 33, there is an article about Red Rock Biologics of Woodland, California who is making a Equine Rattlesnake Vaccine, called Crotalus Atrox Toxiod Rattlesnake Vaccine for Horses. It may be a good idea to talk to your Vet to see if they are going to carry it, or if you can get a script for it and vaccinate yourself if allowable in your state. May be a good idea if you live way out from Vet response and in heavy Rattlesnake country.

Apparently, like Rabies vaccine, this vaccine is supposed to develop "memory cells" to respond once they encounter the toxin again. The initial doses is a series of three shots given once a month for three months. So creating antibodies in your horses may just be in your best interest considering the cost of supportive Vet care if a horse is bit.

Safe Journey and watch for Rattlesnakes!

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