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Have you had run-ins with poisonous snakes, spiders, crocodiles and etc.

 
gardener
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Location: Southern Illinois
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I have never had a personal encounter with any poisonous snake, but last summer my dog did.

I was outside across the road talking with my neighbor when I saw my dog poke her head out from tall grasses around my home.  My dog was a born-to-run type and we just let her run around the countryside.  But on this day instead of dashing over to my side as she normally would, she walked slowly to the shade of a tree and laid down (it was a hot day).

This was strange behavior for her and it only got worse.  I called for her to come but she stayed put.  As I walked over to her she looked up at me but made no attempt to move.  When I got to her I was concerned and found that she was favoring one of her front paws.  I tried feeling the paw to see what was wrong.  I suspected that she may have had a run-in with a car.  I could find no obviously broken bones, but that paw was rapidly swelling.  I called my wife to bring the car and take her to the vet as the dog was obviously getting worse.

Three hours later and my wife and dog came home where she was diagnosed with a hornet bite.  She was given a dose of steroids to help the swelling and sent home.  The vet tech told us that the paw should have reduced its its swelling by this point and if it did not improve in two hours bring her back in.

At home the dog was obviously uncomfortable, breathing rapidly and instead of the swelling going down, the afflicted paw was now twice the size of the other.  At home I tried to gently feel the swollen paw, and when I felt the back of her leg I felt some fluid running.  I took a look at my hand and it was covered in a thin, black fluid.  Necrotic blood as it turns out.

I immediately rushed her back to the vet and this time they shaved the leg and then it was plainly obvious that she had been bit by a snake—twice, with four obvious fang marks.  The time the vet kept the dog overnight and treated her with more steroids and IV fluids.  I left really thinking my dog was about to die.  The vet told me that they regularly get snake-bit dogs and that they had never lost one, but my dog looked bad.

The next day the vet called back and told me that the dog had recovered very well over night and could come home.  My dog was still a bit sick, but recovered over the course of the week.

We suspect that she was bit by a copperhead, and if you have to get bit by a venomous snake, a copperhead is your best bet.  We assume the our dog found the snake and tried to play with it.  She likely did not know or care she was bit the first time so she kept swatting her paws at the snake and got bit a second time at which point she had had enough and left the snake alone.

By now she has almost completely recovered, but she has a bald streak on her paw/leg between the bites.  Aside from that she is no worse off for wear.  In the end, it was a scary experience, but she is now just fine.

Eric
 
pollinator
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Location: 6a
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Eric Hanson wrote: By now she has almost completely recovered, but she has a bald streak on her paw/leg between the bites.  Aside from that she is no worse off for wear.  In the end, it was a scary experience, but she is now just fine.

Eric



Wow, Eric.  Glad that your pooch is ok.  Dogs do have a crazy curiousity.  When we lived in the desert I always worried about the dogs and rattle snakes.
 
Scott Foster
pollinator
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Dale Hodgins wrote:

We will make every attempt to keep spiders and snakes out of the house, but I think we must coexist with them the minute we walk out the door.



Dale, you will definitely be dealing with critters.  I spent some time in th PI when I was in the service.  I was staying out in town and I remember waking up on a couch and moving to the outhouse with 1ft of water on the floor.  It was monsoon season.  That was a wild experience.
 
Posts: 254
Location: Northern New Mexico, Latitude:35 degrees N, Elevation:6000'
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Some quick things I remember while studying echinacea for venomous bites.

Echinacea denatures venom....it literally breaks down the protein structure of venom and hence destroys the venom.

Echinacea has hyaluronic acid, which holds the cells together instead of allowing them to melt away from necrosis.

Echinacea will actually reverse the damage if the cell still has integrity.
 
pollinator
Posts: 296
Location: West Virginny and Kentuck
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I ain't a-scared of snakes.  But for some reason, my brain immediately recognizes the poisonous one.  Copperheads in my part of the world.

I once stepped over a copperhead with it's mouth full of prey.  It creeped me out so much I kept scanning the floor of my car as I drove home; despite logically knowing it hadn't followed me.

Setting up raised beds along the back side of my house on the ridgetop, a copperhead tried to make itself at home in the new leaf mulch.  It pretty much disappeared from view.  Without the proper tools, I improvised.  Leaned out a window and shot it dead with my bow and arrow.  Went shopping for a machete next day.  Used it a few years later on another that lunged at my mower from another garden bed.

My theory is that they have the rest of the property.  They don't belong where I (or my grands) are putting our hands frequently.
 
pollinator
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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We ALMOST stepped on a timber rattler while walking our new land for the first time.  I stepped right over it, then my wife noticed it as she was an inch from stepping RIGHT ON IT.  It barely flinched.  

Worst problem for us is brown recluse.  I haven't gotten bit, but my son did--it was not fun.  He didn't get infected, it was just the venom, but it took months to heal.
 
Posts: 33
Location: Wilderness, South Africa
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Growing up on the southern tip of the 'Dark Continent' comes with a fair share critter encounters.

I've surfed all my life and had several shark encounters. Great whites, tiger and bull sharks mainly. The bulls are the ones that bother me the most. Aggressive and well suited to brackish water. A great white attacks a human by mistake, taking a limb or a life. I feel like bulls will eat a human intentionally.

Just the other day I stepped on a night adder in the lounge. I had my feet up on the couch and when I put them on the ground there was a cold slithery thing beneath. They aren't always lethal but they cause problems. Puff adders can be lethal and had plenty of them in the house too. My brothers jack russel, hardly the size of a packet of chips, got bitten while attacking one and somehow survived. Tough little dog. I swear she gets smaller every time I see her.

Our biggest serpent worry would probably be the cape cobra in my area. Highly venomous but not too aggressive. My closest encounter with a black mamba was seeing one crossing the road in front of me up the north coast. It was the length of one lane of the road. We turned around.

A neighbours game camera captured an elusive cape leopard not too long ago. Very exciting and we are working together to make sure that it is welcome in these parts. The loss of poultry is absolutely worth being including in the territory of a leopard. Plenty of scorpions on my property but nothing too venomous. We have plenty of centipedes too but they aren't venomous and don't bite. Just this morning I saw one at the bottom of someones pool, alive and just cruising around. Very strange. We call them shongololos.

Primates can be an issue around here too, especially if people feed them. In some areas in Cape Town baboons are basically hairy, broad daylight thugs and terrorize tourists to no end. Breaking into houses and cars and trashing the place while stealing food.  They are intimidating but will usually back down if challenged. A childhood friend of mine was bitten by a vervet monkey and carries the scar to prove it.

A croc expert friend of mine was very nearly killed by a hippo while out in the field. He got picked up and flung a huge distance, and just as the hippo was charging over to finish him off the hippos mate cut it off and led them both away into the bush.

And the list goes on....

Not all permaculture/gardening related but just a fact of life around here.

 
pollinator
Posts: 388
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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At my place we brown recluse, black widows, scorpions, rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads.  In the rivers we have alligators, and several species of sharks on the coast.  All can make for a nasty day.  I have a few fun stories that I share with people when they ask "why does everything here want to kill you?"  But the reality is I have more risk of death statistically from being gored by livestock than taken out by a venomous pest.  I have an irrational fear of snakes (having one bite into my gloved hand, narrowly missing breaking the skin did not help.), so it can be tough to keep it all in perspective.  

To tie it into permaculture:  Poultry, fun sized dinosaurs, will keep the insect population, as well as the smaller reptile population at bay; and give one a much lower chance of an encounter.  Good farm hygiene and some common sense will further reduce your risk to a very low level.  Just try to look at the big picture and realize every environment has something that can kill you unexpectedly.  Embrace one's mortality and enjoy the journey.

For anyone living in Croc country, you have my deepest respect and sympathy.  And you can keep your prehistoric beasts.  We're full here.  
 
gardener
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Location: southern Illinois.
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I had a run in with a bear in MN while picking berries.  He explained they were his  berries. He looked like an honest bear, so I left.
 
John F Dean
gardener
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While hiking the Grand Canyon, I became aware on a rattling sound.  I turned my head enough to see the rocky ledge on my right covered with Rattle Snakes sunning themselves.  Of course, there was nothing on my left. The trail was maybe 2 to 3 feet wide at that point. I figured I was not the first hiker they had seen, so I kept moving at the same pace.  It worked out ok.
 
pollinator
Posts: 332
Location: Southern Germany
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Every time I lament that we have such a short growing season here compared to other regions with vegetation almost year round I should come to this thread to remind myself that there is a downside to almost everything!

I can run barefoot everywhere, make a picnic in the forest if I want, reach down dark holes etc. No evil critters.
The only dangerous species are ticks which can not only transmit Lymes-Borreliosis (treatable) but also tick-borne encephalitis (we should go for our next vaccine shot in the near future).
The one poisonous snake we have is the European adder but it is very rare to find today. In the 1980s our dog was bitten and my mother convinced the municipal hospital to give him an antivenom shot which normally only humans get, so he survived. It is not very dangerous for humans. In the last 60 years, there is only one reported death in Germany.

I spent part of my childhood in the Middle East. Scorpions, tarantulas, camel spiders on the land and stonefish, sharks and other animals in the water - I was not really afraid. You just never entered the water barefoot, and I have not heard of any cases of death by animals.

I travelled to Costa Rica in 1990, but was happily oblivious of all dangerous creatures around me (I did not venture alone into the forest).

Last night when I was sleeping already I was woken up by Mummy, mummy-screams. Turns out my middle daughter saw a mid-sized spider on her wall and wanted me to remove it. I was too tired and with a cold so I refused; she came to sleep in my bed (13 years old). She is panicking when she sees a spider and will scream and cry. Not sure what good this primitive instinct called arachnophobia has got in cold Germany, but we have to live with it!

 
pollinator
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Location: North Idaho
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We have the occasional timber rattler in the woods here and some of the rocks have black widow spider under them, though this far north they don't get very big.

As for apex predators we have wolves and cougar come through sometimes, but they are generally not much to worry about.  Black bears are probably the most troublesome thing we have around here sometimes going after the neighborhoods garbage cans or bee hives.

The elk can be quite the pain tearing apart hay stacks in the winter.  The moose can be dangerous if you come face to face with them and one feels challenged or threatened.  I was running through forest of my middle ravine to the back of my last farm short cutting across the farm as I was trying to get several rigs from 1/2 mile back on the farm back up to the house area.  I jumped off the bank onto my road and went face to face with a big cow moose.  She started to challenge me but thankfully changed her mind after about 30 seconds and loped off down the ravine.  I then headed up the next side of the ravine to run face first into a bald faced hornets nest...  That was quite a lot of fun...   I ran so fast I left my ball cap behind, I found myself a 16 ft long springy branch and went back and rescued my hat, then i beat the heck out of the nest and ran for my life...

I don't think that I would care to be in a place that had a lot of poisonous snakes, spiders, frogs or any kind of crocodile or alligator..   Though I used to quite enjoy canoeing in Georgia when I based in Norfolk VA, seeing the gators and whatnot was quite cool, but to live there, no thanks...
 
pollinator
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Crossed paths with a 3’ rattlesnake this Spring in the Okanagan. It buzzed to warn me which was appreciated. I only see one every 5-10 years it seems. This one was in the trees far from rocks but good rodent habitat. Ive noticed them near rodents mostly.
 
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