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Bad year for venomous snakes


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Geocachers have to take special precautions all the time, but it seems that this year is especially bad for snake bites. Here in Central Oklahoma, we've already had about 44 inches of rain this year. That means lots of tall grass (sometimes over 6 ft high) and weeds. The result of all the vegetation is more insects and small animals. That spirals right up the food chain to rattlesnakes and copperheads. Hospitals here report a very high number of poisonous snake bite victims. Most of these were people doing yard work. Antivenin treatments run $15,000 and up per treatment. Locals also report a high number of venomous snakes in their yards. I'm being super cautious this summer, but mostly because of the heavy load of chigger bites I've had. In Oklahoma the roadside grasses are very high because livestock can't get there and the mowing crews are way behind. These roadsides are common places for caches. I sometimes find a stick to probe ahead where I'm walking, and I never stick my hand down where I can't see to grab a cache. I haven't seen any snakes, and I don't want to. Have any of you noticed more snakes?

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Have any of you noticed more snakes?

It's the year of the snake in Georgia. Until this year, I had only seen one venomous snake (a copperhead). This year, I've already seen two copperheads and a cottonmouth. And several non-venomous snakes. Plus there seem to be more road kills.

 

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Water Moccasin - Cottonmouth (Venomous)

 

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Copperhead (Venomous)

This one was at a lake shore where I was scouting cache locations. I heard a rustle of animal movement, then an intermittent "buzzing" sound. This snake was shaking its tail like a rattlesnake might in the weeds. I had unintentionally cornered the snake. So I backed off and left.

 

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(Non Venomous)

Edited by kunarion
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Funny you should ask?! I have had this discussion with my geocaching partner a few times this year, after we have encountered another snake! I have had 2 baby rattlesnakes in my yard this year! First time in a long time I have found a rattlesnake in my yard, and to find two at different occasion's?!? Also, we have walked by 3 rattlesnakes while geocaching. All 3 times we heard them before seeing them. Thank goodness they weren't in our direct path but a few feet away. And we have seen several non-venomous (i.e.: Hognose, Texas Rat snakes, green grass snakes, etc) It's been an active year for snakes. Isn't it the Chinese "year of the Snake" this year? :yikes:

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Rumor has it that the rattlesnakes have stopped rattleing. I do not know if it is true, but one of my co-workers went to his land in West Texas and said that he killed several that did not rattle.

 

I've heard that rumor for years and it is anecdotal. Rattlesnakes have never always rattled to warn you. There is some suggestion that if there is something to that rumor that maybe natural selection is favoring rattlesnakes that don't rattle and therefore draw attention to themselves to get killed by people.

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Geocachers have to take special precautions all the time, but it seems that this year is especially bad for snake bites. Here in Central Oklahoma, we've already had about 44 inches of rain this year. That means lots of tall grass (sometimes over 6 ft high) and weeds. The result of all the vegetation is more insects and small animals. That spirals right up the food chain to rattlesnakes and copperheads. Hospitals here report a very high number of poisonous snake bite victims. Most of these were people doing yard work. Antivenin treatments run $15,000 and up per treatment. Locals also report a high number of venomous snakes in their yards. I'm being super cautious this summer, but mostly because of the heavy load of chigger bites I've had. In Oklahoma the roadside grasses are very high because livestock can't get there and the mowing crews are way behind. These roadsides are common places for caches. I sometimes find a stick to probe ahead where I'm walking, and I never stick my hand down where I can't see to grab a cache. I haven't seen any snakes, and I don't want to. Have any of you noticed more snakes?

 

I won't go three feet off the road without my hiking stick.

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I've heard that rumor for years and it is anecdotal. Rattlesnakes have never always rattled to warn you. There is some suggestion that if there is something to that rumor that maybe natural selection is favoring rattlesnakes that don't rattle and therefore draw attention to themselves to get killed by people.

We heard that it beacuse of feral hogs not humans, the hogs are a bigger problem here than snakes and they will eat snakes (and anything else).

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Rumor has it that the rattlesnakes have stopped rattleing. I do not know if it is true, but one of my co-workers went to his land in West Texas and said that he killed several that did not rattle.

My brothers, nephews and I were vigorously rattled at by a beautiful Mohave rattlesnake outside of Phoenix in May. Caught it on video with audio.
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I'm not sure if it's a worse year or not. But I've always found it interesting that even though I live in a place that has lots of rattlesnakes, I don't see them while hiking. Up until this year, I had only seen two live rattlesnakes and one dead one while caching. One of the live ones we found because we were looking in every rock hole on the way to a cache just to try and find a rattlesnake.

 

Even though I hike a lot, I've only seen rattlesnakes out and about one time before caching, as well. I know they're out there, especially since I've seen too many to count in my own backyard.

 

I finally found another one this month while looking for a cache in Colorado. He was trying to curl up under a few small rocks, not very successfully. Made my heart go pitter-pat when I started to reach for the rocks around him. He was barely awake, though, and didn't seem concerned with me at all.

 

It's interesting, his eyes are partly closed (yes, I moved the rocks around him so I could get a better picture):

 

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It's interesting, his eyes are partly closed

I don't think any species of snake is capable of closing their eyes, even a little bit? :unsure:

 

In many states (rattlesnakes) are a protected species.

I wish this were true across the board.

They are such awesome critters.

I just don't get the, "I'm ignorant & afraid! Kill it!" mentality.

Edited by Clan Riffster
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It's interesting, his eyes are partly closed

I don't think any species of snake is capable of closing their eyes, even a little bit? :unsure:

 

Well, he has some sort of lid over the top 2/3rds of his eyes, which I've never seen before in rattlesnakes. Perhaps it's a different variety than in Washington?

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Well, he has some sort of lid over the top 2/3rds of his eyes, which I've never seen before in rattlesnakes. Perhaps it's a different variety than in Washington?

 

There is a bit of a ridge above the eye that obscures it in your photo. Had you gotten lower and closer the whole eye would have been visible. The eye does have a covering called a brill that is like a clear contact lens that protects the eye while allowing him to see, but that is usually only visible just before he sheds and it causes the eye to look cloudy.

 

...and yes there are different species in Colorado from those in Washington, however the eye structure is similar.

Edited by edscott
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Well, he has some sort of lid over the top 2/3rds of his eyes, which I've never seen before in rattlesnakes. Perhaps it's a different variety than in Washington?

 

There is a bit of a ridge above the eye that obscures it in your photo. Had you gotten lower and closer the whole eye would have been visible. The eye does have a covering called a brill that is like a clear contact lens that protects the eye while allowing him to see, but that is usually only visible just before he sheds and it causes the eye to look cloudy.

 

...and yes there are different species in Colorado from those in Washington, however the eye structure is similar.

Interesting. I don't think I've seen a ridge like that on any snake here in Washington. Here's the last pic I took of a rattler:

 

3f7116d3-eced-4cfd-bab5-30019a87ecae.jpg

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When I'm caching in conditions where I am likely to run into snakes (being Australia, we have more than our fair share of aggressive and venomous sorts!) I wear leather GP boots, long pants and thick canvas gaiters. I figure the snakes can't bite me through that and it gives me a chance. Quite a few times I've narrowly avoided stepping on a big Tiger snake (very aggro and extremely venomous) and Red Bellied Blacks (not quite so bad, but still not to be messed with).

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It's interesting, his eyes are partly closed

I don't think any species of snake is capable of closing their eyes, even a little bit? :unsure:

 

In many states (rattlesnakes) are a protected species.

I wish this were true across the board.

They are such awesome critters.

I just don't get the, "I'm ignorant & afraid! Kill it!" mentality.

 

Well some of us that are afraid of them wouldn't spend that much time around it to try and kill it, I would be miles gone LOL I don't even like seeing the racers, I leave the area. We live in copperhead land with some rattlers, I stay out of the woods from like April-November, I may venture in if gps says 30ish feet, but that is the furthest, I have a slight fear of them LOL

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When I moved to Florida I was surprised at the positive attitude about snakes. It's not uncommon to se a log bragging "I saw a pygmy rattlesnake!" or something , like it was a good experience to be desired. The next finder will complain that they didn't see the snake. After a couple years of geocaching here I've overcome my fear of snakes. One of my favorite caching experience took me 15 feet from a huge alligator. Once you are familiar with snakes habits they are less scarey. They prefer not to attack people we're not on the menu. they'll run away unless they feel trapped. Use caution and watch where you're going so you don't startle them at close range

Edited by Fridge01
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Rumor has it that the rattlesnakes have stopped rattleing. I do not know if it is true, but one of my co-workers went to his land in West Texas and said that he killed several that did not rattle.

 

This is true, especially in the Southwest. Due to the yearly rattlesnake roundups, those without rattles have survived, passing on their rattle-less genes.

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Of all the numerous rattlesnakes that we've found in our yard over the years, only a couple have rattled. I've come to the opinion that they'd rather hide and blend in than to point out where they are. They're very good at being still and quiet. I've almost touched them (one actually went over my brother's hand) several times without knowing they were there.

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