Wednesday, January 21, 2009


A few days ago, the question was posed: Am I worried that Desert Boy might run into trouble with a rattlesnake? 

The short answer is no. 

Here's why (aka the long answer):
Right now, during the winter, Desert Boy is perfectly safe, because rattlesnakes have evolved a survival strategy to deal with cold temperatures by hibernating. They are cold-blooded creatures, meaning they can't regulate their body temperature. So if it's too cold, they take cover, and the earth provides a constant temperature for them. Likewise, if it's too hot, they also take cover.

During May through September, the Great Basin variety of rattlesnake  (Crotalus viridis lutosis) is out, but with a few precautions, chances of getting bitten are really slim. Generally a rattlesnake only bites for food or defense, so if you stay far enough away from it, there's no danger. Most snake bites are on people's hands--because they try to handle them.

If you do happen to get bitten, stay calm and go to the nearest hospital. The hospitals around here all carry antivenom. Don't use a tourniquet, and don't cut the wound and suck it out. Try to keep the injury below the level of the heart and relax as much as possible. And keep in mind there's a fairly good chance that the snake didn't inject any poison. 

One other thing that makes me feel better about Desert Boy and rattlesnakes: Henry. Our niece was once protected by her black lab from a rattlesnake (the dog got bitten when she jumped in front of the niece, but ended up being okay). I'm fairly certain Henry would do the same thing. But when it gets warmer in the spring, we'll be more careful, making sure we don't go putting our hands or feet into places we can't see. 

Looking at it from the other side, life is tough for a rattlesnake. Only about ten percent make it to sexual maturity, they rarely venture more than a few miles from their den, and competition is fierce. You can learn lots more about rattlesnakes at this website.

There are quite a few non-venomous snakes around here: gopher snakes, garter snakes, and racers, to name a few. They are all really good at helping control rodent populations, so I'm glad to have snakes around. In fact, I think I'd much rather have snakes in my neighborhood than mosquitoes. And because we live in the desert and don't have much water that mosquitoes need for breeding, I usually get fewer than five mosquito bites a year. 


The Incredible Woody said...

I know we need snakes but I really, really, really don't like them!

photogal3 said...

Okay, on to other topics...


Sarah said...

5 mosquito bites a year? Trade ya!


Old Hunter said...

Ran into your dad again..out at St. Joe, (I was hanging up kids' artwork) told him that I enjoyed both blogs. I get more from your dad's blog than the local newspaper, and yours is so informative.

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