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Rattlesnake!

 
Kat Green
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My heart is still in my throat! I heard my American Bulldog bark and went to check. She was on a chain with the house right behind her, the front steps on her left, a tree on her right and a rattlesnake in front of her. The snake was hissing and starting to coil. It didn't rattle but I recognized the wedge shape of the head and the pattern. It looked like the snake had the dog cornered. Fortunately, my dog is friendly with other animals in general and did not go after the snake, but to get to me, she jumped over the snake! It didn't strike and she is okay. I got her chain unsnapped and put her in the house and ran for a bucket and a lid about 20 ft away. The snake was gone. I rustled the weeds with a broom but it was gone. I looked around a 50 ft area but no sign. So quick! This was a medium size snake about 18 inches. Will it stay around? Can I do something to drive it/them away? Did my dog and I do something right to avoid a strike like this time that we can replicate another time? Please tell me about snake behavior.
 
Kat Green
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Read an old thread here but not too helpful. I don't have much to attract rodents for the snakes. My neighbor does and wont clean it up. Maybe it will go over there. People are clearing their weeds for the fire dept now so that may have rousted out the snake. My weeds are already done.
 
Jack Edmondson
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Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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Snake are like any other creature. For the most part they are in an area for food or shelter. Sometimes just passin' through. Hard to tell. Like you pointed out, it may have been rousted from its normal territory and looking for a new place; or following its displaced food source. Don't give it a reason to stay. You can also trap snakes, if you are concerned one has a foot hold on your property.

I would leave the dog off the leash if possible. It is unlikely the snake 'cornered' or trapped the dog intentionally. The dog likely upset so near the steps for security and the snake on the path that put it in front of the dog. A Cottonmouth will go after, even pin and animal or person. However, rattlesnakes are much more defensive. The best line of defense if you see another snake is to get a goose, duck, or chickens in that order. Birds are probably the biggest predator of snakes in the wild. A adult waterfowl can stand their feathers up enough to neutralize snake strikes; and will let them strike repeatedly until they can swallow its head. Then it is like a long spaghetti noodle. Of course snake venom is not toxic in the digestive tract. It is a poison only in the blood stream, or in the case of a coral snake, in the nervous system. Fowl will eat them any chance they can get with no ill effect.

Be very careful where you put your hands this summer. Does not sound like this guy is about warning signals.
 
Kat Green
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Thank you for the advice. I will turn my chickens and ducks out in the front yard. Is there a non-living bait?
 
Jack Edmondson
Posts: 233
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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http://www.snakeguard.com/how.html

I would use a 'minnow trap' with live bait partitioned off from the snake. A simple screen between the two half should keep the rodent from being eaten.

 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I don't view the presence of a snake as all bad. Proximity to the house may be too close, but on larger properties, they are a great thing to have. Many snakes enjoy legal protection, so check before doing anything rash.
 
Kat Green
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Thank you. I know of a couple of stores that having fishing gear nearby. You have been very helpful.
 
Jim Gagnepain
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Whoa, whoa, whoa. If it was a rattlesnake, and it was coiled, and ready to strike, it would have been rattling. Rattlesnakes are very good at putting out warnings. Bull snakes often look very much like rattlers. And you don't want to kill the bull snakes, because part of their diet is rattlesnakes, and also rodents. I live in an area that has rattlesnakes. Whenever I see one, I slowly approach, to within about 10-15 feet. If it's a rattlesnake, it will start making the noise. A snake can only attack from the length of their body. Bullsnakes are very aggressive, and they won't usually back down. That's probably what was near your dog. I'm assuming this is in the West. Leave those bull snakes. They're good to have around.
 
Kat Green
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It definitely had the head of a rattler. I didn't wait long enough to see if it had a rattle on the other end. It was in the process of coiling but not yet coiled. Kinda pulling its body together. It was a juvenile so maybe didn't have rattles yet? I wouldn't kill it regardless. I just want to relocate them a few miles away. I don't know if we have bull snakes. Does it have a wedge shaped head? We have coral snakes and garter snakes. I saw a sidewinder once and I think that is just another type of rattler. The garter snakes here look a lot like rattlers but the head is skinny. I don't like any of them even if they are considered good. I would rather have the mice! I catch mice in a humane trap and relocate them too. I do kill bugs if they are making themselves a nuisance. I have been letting the chickens out during the day and I haven't seen the snake since.
 
Jim Gagnepain
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Sounds like maybe it was a rattler then. Like you said, maybe a baby, not yet developed. I'm told that it's worse to get bitten by a baby, because they can't control their venim. Rattlesnake antivenim is very expensive now. I've heard of snakebites in out area costing between $30K - 70K to treat. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? The antivenim becomes dated, and the hospitals have to keep fresh vials on hand, so the victim is paying for what he uses, and all that the hospitals discard.
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