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

 
gardener
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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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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
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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
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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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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: 53
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: 440
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.  
 
master gardener
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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
master 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.
 
gardener
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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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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.
 
pioneer
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I had been sent by my employer to Great Falls, Montana to help with replacing a computer network. I liked to get out and drive around to see everything so came across the First Peoples Buffalo Jump. For those that don't know, a buffalo jump is actually a small mesa to which buffalo are lured. They're stampeded over the edge of the mesa to kill them. This was before the Spanish freed horses on the American plains.
A large sign at the parking lot warned people about prairie rattlers. Stay on the trails and keep your eyes open it said. I like snakes. I'll pick them up to show them off. I do kill venomous snakes but leave the rest alone. So, I'm climbing along the rocks looking for rattlers and don't see the first one. After an hour of searching i give up and head for the car.
The last big rock I'm climbing over near the parking lot and I step off it right onto a big rattler. It went apey and started striking at random. I'm doing a tap dance on this snake trying to get away from it. I finally get the momentum I need to get off this thing and back on that rock. He coils up and is looking for me, that rattle going like crazy. I think I picked the biggest one to dance with!!

Was sneaking along a trail before sunup between two ponds in the South Carolina swamps. I had my tree stand on my back, my bow and a bag of things for hunting. I stepped on an alligator. That SOB had been laying there waiting for me, I think. He hit the water and kept moving. I hit the trail and I kept moving. My heart pounded for a while after that!

I found a cotton mouth out in a field once when I was about 8 or 9. I carefully positioned my foot over its head so I could pin it and pick it up. Just as I dropped my foot it took off. There was enough of his body out there he could turn his head and face me but he couldn't reach any flesh. We stared at one another for what seemed like a long time. I figured I'd slowly lift my foot so it would feel the pressure off and then slither away. I got my foot all the way off him. The ingrate struck the toe of my shoe before his exit. There were two tiny holes where he had hit the shoe.

Was in Fallon, NV doing a Carrier Air Wing Alpha Strike on a rock in the desert. There were lots of warbirds and the pressure for safety and mission completion was applied. To wind down on a day off we went to a place they called Mitzie's grave. It was an old mine near which was a lead plaque with a lamb engraved on it. When we pulled up I knew I was in hog heaven. There were rattlers everywhere. At the entrance to the mine my comrades found an empty dynamite box and hollered about it. Another comrade looked up and said, "Wait, let me see it".
He started walking through the knee high brush and stepped on a rattler. He screamed and took off running. He wouldn't stop because he was afraid he was gonna stop next to another one. He ran in circles until we could quit laughing and let him in the car.

I got many more, but these are the top of the list.
 
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Had them sleeping inside my shoes sleeping next to my bed to  they dont seem scared or try to run away or crawl so I put in a bix and when I have a few take them to a guy who sells the poison for some kind if research. The snakes dont scare me but the Quant centipedes do they called tacarb here and very aggressive and very painful if they bite you they kill lots of dogs and cats but I think only a few humans. But that's the tropics for you and i wouldnt want to change it unless it was a deserted island somewhere
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Posts: 172
Location: mid Ohio, 40.318626 -83.766931
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my wife is from Thailand, Just after we were married we went to stay at her grandmothers old house in Narathiwat which is not far from the Malaysian border.
one morning i woke and my wife wasn't in bed, so I got up to go the the bathroom.
as i left the bedroom, which opens up to the main room of the house, i saw my wife squatting on the floor like she is praying.
as im walking to the bathroom i can see past her and there is a cobra curled up on the floor a couple of feet away.
I went back to the bedroom. when she came back in a while later i asked her what the hell she thought she was doing.
she said she was praying to the snake and asking it to leave the house. apparently it listened ....
 
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I'm sitting here reading this thread with my feet up lol! Gives me the willies...

As a child I was quite the tom-boy and practically lived outside. We lived on the edge of dense woods with a creek in Illinois.

Dad wasn't much on keeping the yard clean, so we had several dilapidated buildings overflowing with lumber and assorted junk. Weeds growing up around piles of stuff through the yard. Excellent snake habitat, and we had 'em. The most common of the venemous snakes that we had were water moccasins, and we had an abundance of 'em. We did encounter them, but mostly it was when we were trying to clean up the yard, and they were in that stuff. We did see plenty of garter snakes, without disturbing anything, but they aren't venemous.

Like I said, I practically lived outside. I had siblings and there were a great many other kids living in the neighborhood that we played with daily. We camped in tents in the yard in the summer, and when mom and dad aren't watching, you just don't go to bed and call it quits when the sun goes down; you run around, always barefoot, playing games in the dark, etc.

None of us ever got bit while running through the yard playing or camping out. None. And if anybody had a good chance of that happening, it would've been all of us kids. However, our community wasn't immune.

In general, in my total snake experiences, I've sat on them, stepped on them, jumped over them and nearly accidentally picked them up. Not fun. But, I was never bitten. The one I jumped over was a rattler that was by the railroad tracks. It was quite chilly that day, which is why we thought there wouldn't be snakes out and about. Wrong. We had walked past it without knowing it was there, and had gotten into a bunch of wild thorny bushes and couldn't continue on in that direction. So, we turned to go back the way we had come and there he was, rattling like crazy. Being kids, all we could think to do was jump him, which we did. If it had been a warmer day, he wouldn't have been quite that easy to get past.

There was a neighbor a few houses down from us. They had a toddler daughter who was just in her yard walking around while her dad was sitting in a lawn chair watching her. All of a sudden, a water moccasin struck out at her, twice, biting her both times. The father had to beat it off of her with a stick. She was rushed to the hospital where she fully recovered.

In the present time, just a year or two ago, a man was in the yard at his parents' house and was bitten by a rattler (he recovered) , and a young boy was bitten by a copperhead at a public lake. I'm assuming he recovered, but haven't heard, one way or the other. These two encounters happened just a few miles from where I live presently. The most common venomous snake in my area is the copperhead.

These days, I strive to not put myself into situations where snakes are likely to be cause I hate 'em and want nothing to do with 'em.

I hate spiders as well and keep the house sprayed. Can't avoid them nearly as easily as snakes, unfortunately.
 
M James
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Phil Grady wrote:my wife is from Thailand, Just after we were married we went to stay at her grandmothers old house in Narathiwat which is not far from the Malaysian border.
one morning i woke and my wife wasn't in bed, so I got up to go the the bathroom.
as i left the bedroom, which opens up to the main room of the house, i saw my wife squatting on the floor like she is praying.
as im walking to the bathroom i can see past her and there is a cobra curled up on the floor a couple of feet away.
I went back to the bedroom. when she came back in a while later i asked her what the hell she thought she was doing.
she said she was praying to the snake and asking it to leave the house. apparently it listened ....



You went back to bed, with your wife and a cobra in the next room??? No way! I thought you were going to say you went back into the bedroom to retrieve your machine gun!!
 
pollinator
Posts: 126
Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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I grew up in a North American desert, and moved back to different North American desert as an adult.

And mostly, in terms of staying safe, at least for the critters around here, it just kind of becomes habit, I think, for most things. Like looking out for cars when you are near a road - just, things you automatically do or don't do. And just like with the whole car/road thing, sometimes you feel like you need to pay more attention, and sometimes you feel more relaxed.

It's weird sometimes to realize how much people don't follow these precautions in other areas, though.

Like, when I was a kid, you generally didn't play in areas where wild animals denned or hung out a lot, because they could have fleas. And where I was, fleas could carry the plague, and you could catch it from them. But it was just...treated like normal 'same ole, same ole.' The state would issue warnings when there had been a few animals found that had contracted the plague, and the area where it was, and so after that happened, parents would be warning their kids more about avoiding flea-ridden places for a few months.  Very few people died from the plague during my childhood, but one of them was a little boy in my hometown, so everyone took it pretty seriously.

Where I am now, there's centipedes, black widows, brown recluses, a very venomous bark scorpion, rattlesnakes, etc...  And the biggest rule we follow that applies to most of them is you do not stick your hands in places you can't see unless you are wearing gloves.  And you just kind of get to know the habits of the critters so you can live with each other, or get them to go live somewhere else. Like, big stones quite frequently have centipedes or scorpions under them so you stay aware when trying to move any of those, piles of rocks are good snake homes, crevices are good spider homes, and so on.

So I know that black widows and brown recluse like undisturbed places, so high traffic areas aren't likely to have them, but be careful with areas that haven't seen anyone around in a few days (I've had a black widow decide to make a web on my front door knob when I got sick and didn't leave the house for a few days, eek).

Our bark scorpions will hide or play dead if you have not touched them and their hiding space has opened up, but if they have been touched, they are little bastards and they will literally come at you. Twice, I've had one crawl on me when I was sleeping, and it stung me as I brushed it off. And then it came rushing back over from where I'd tossed it off and stung me again. Twice!

We have a few large rattlesnakes that view our yard as territory - they're about 5 feet long or so. We make the yard very friendly for road runners (nesting materials, safe places), who will eat them, so they don't come into our yard very often. And we have no dogs, and our kids are older, so they can be avoided now pretty safely. We also have some fencing that the snakes don't like to go over, mostly, so they stick to the unfenced part of our property.

But otherwise, our rattlesnakes are pretty chill. I've been walking through the yard before and seen one about 8 feet away, heading the same direction. We both looked at each other, and then the snake kept on going away from me, and I did the same thing.

I honestly think the worst moment I've ever had with a critter was a centipede. I was in bed, covers off because it's hot as heck in the summer, it's pitch black, and I feel something crawl on my leg. And it's not like a little tickle - this thing has weight to it. So I'm holding very still, waiting for it to crawl OFF and the crawling just keeps going and going and man, I think I broke the sound barrier leaping off that bed when it finally crawled off!

Ended up catching the thing and putting it outside to go catch mice or something.

I know that we were very worried about scorpions and such when we first moved to our current house, but yeah...we're just used to it now.

 
pollinator
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Eric:  I can say one of the reasons why I love BC and the wet coast of Canada is the absolute lack of any nasty critters...

There are no poisonous snakes (excepting rattlers, in the interior/desert area in the center of the province), bugs, spiders, lizards, toads etc. to be seriously concerned about.  Yeah, we have the odd black widow spider or brown recluse, but that is it.  I will trade our lovely bears/cougars for tiny poisonous critters ANY DAY!  At least I can see/hear an apex predator and generally using my voice and body language get them to take off; besides to be frank, we are not considered "food" for them in the first place, so the "risk" of injury to a human from a bear or cougar is infinitesimal, in the grand scheme of things.  

BC has 50% of the cougars in North America, and the Island 75% of those.  Yet, I have only been honored to glimpse a cougar once.  I got close enough to a second to literally scare the crap out of it, but never saw it, only heard it in the brush, and scream when it caught my scent and freaked out before "dumping" and taking off (identified in daylight by pug marks and stool left behind).

I know there are at least 7, KNOWN, active cougar dens (queens with kittens) within 15 kms of my residence.  Bears, meh, equally not a threat, only seen a couple in 30 yrs, one of those injured and IN my vehicle to the vet to be euthanized.  

So yes, being bear and cougar aware is important, but not something one really thinks about daily, weekly or even monthly; they really are not a threat and neither has any interest in interacting with humans, given the choice.  Just as there are aberrant bears and cougars, that may once in a long while harm a human, there is a MUCH greater risk from aberrant humans, in my personal opinion.  

Apparently in Australia they have special training programs you can enroll your dog in that teaches them to identify dangerous snakes (and possibly other nasties) and either avoid them or notify their owners of the danger.  Not sure if such training is done in the US.

Food for thought:  it is always a good idea to keep an electric shaver around, if only for when an animal has a wound or injury that needs investigating...from a hot spot to a bite or puncture.  Shaving a wide margin around the affected skin/wound before cleaning is critical in identifying the cause, seriousness and ensuring there is not resultant infection from the injury caused or hidden by fur.
 
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