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Snake Avoidance Strategies


ebengreene
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Hi All,

 

I'm a geocaching rookie in the Memphis, TN area. I keep reading on individual cache descriptions and hearing from people in the area that snakes are a BIG concern, and that we should be very careful. Now, I wouldn't say I'm full-on phobic of snakes, but I'd be very happy if I'm never suprised by one on a hunt.

 

So, I'm wondering what those of you living in areas with snakes do to be safe, especially those of you living in areas with the supposedly aggressive Cottonmouth. Basically what I do now is try to look very closely and poke around with a long stick whenever I have to step into an area I can't see well. Problem is, some caches are so overgrown that there is simply no way to see all of the ground around me. I also have been told to be very careful stepping over fallen trees, etc.

 

Thanks for any help,

Ben

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I always try to poke if I can't see, look before reaching, and I always put my walking stick across the opposite side of fallen trees before stepping. I have spent 2 1/2 years caching the woods of Florida, rattlesnakes, cottonmouts, and a variety of other snakes I have only gotten one Pygmy Rattler cornered where he couldn't get away from me and he coiled but I saw him first. I had to chase 2 mocasins off of the path I was on, but I saw them first and was able to react. the critical point with all of these is watch, watch your feet and hands. I am sure I have passed more snakes than I have seen by staring at the gps but just be aware of where you are and what lives there.

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Generally, snakes view other living things in a binary fashion - I can eat it, or it can eat me. Since snakes cannot eat one of us, they would much prefer to avoid us. Trouble occurs when they cannot avoid us - if they are cornered, as mentioned by the federation, or if you inadvertently sit down, lay down, or put your hand or foot too close to one of them.

 

It is my understanding that the great majority of snakebites in the SE US are acquired on the hands and forearms of males with a significant level of alcohol in their bloodstream. You will have much better odds if you can remain out of that group.

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A very high percentage of the snakes you'll find around Memphis are nonpoisonous. I had a group of Tiger Cub Scouts out on the boardwalk near the LPS001 cache this weekend and I spotted two nice sized snakes off to the side. All the kids had to come take a look. Some of the parents seemed concerned.

 

The snakes were just regular old fish-eating water snakes, though. They were hanging out in the wetland pools that have started to dry up, feasting on the trapped minnows.

 

I'm probably jinxing myself, but I have only seen one live poisonous snake in two and a half years of caching around here. It was a copperhead with beautiful coloration. I can see how it would be invisible in the leaf litter during the fall.

 

As for avoidance techniques, I just make enough noise to give the snake time to get out of the way if I'm heading off through the brush. The snake doesn't have any interest in seeing me or having me see it.

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I had a group of Tiger Cub Scouts out on the boardwalk near the LPS001 cache this weekend and I spotted two nice sized snakes off to the side.

 

As for avoidance techniques, I just make enough noise to give the snake time to get out of the way if I'm heading off through the brush. The snake doesn't have any interest in seeing me or having me see it.

:) I'm glad Chicklet and I didn't see those snakes when we came through there a few hours later! I'd never get her out of the house again!

 

I use the same "broadcast your arrival" technique, and the only time it failed me was when Hoot Owl and I were doing Cordova Multi a few weeks ago and ran up on a moccasin (pic is in our logs). "He" held his ground and gaped at us. We were giving him a wide berth anyway, so he and I just glared at each other for a little bit and went on. He never moved, except to wiggle his tail like a silent rattle and bare his fangs. Hoot Owl said the snake was more afraid of me than I was of him, but I suspect the snake didn't have to change his drawz after we left! :D

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Hi,

 

This will be of limited help, but I avoid poisonous snakes by living in the Adirondack Region of New York State...we have no poisonous snakes, poison ivy, poison oak, or ticks with lyme disease.

 

I would certainly recommend my method, as it has the added benefit of letting me live in the best place on Earth.

 

As regards non-poisonous snakes...I don't worry about avoiding them, and this arrangement seems to work for them as well as for me.

 

nfa

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So far I have come across 4 poisonous snakes in 460 caches, about 1%. One was a tiny coral snake who was just curious. Three were water mocassins. One I almost stepped on. The other two were guarding were along a walking path. I always poke the sweep the ground in front of me with a hiking stick. I have a grabber to pick up caches in holes or around tree trunks.

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As for avoidance techniques, I just make enough noise to give the snake time to get out of the way if I'm heading off through the brush. The snake doesn't have any interest in seeing me or having me see it.

I agree with bit here on making noise for avoidance. I will however say that "the cottonmouth" or water mocassin is VERY agressive, especially at certian times of the year. I've had more than one chase me while fishing waist deep in creeks. :) Not a very pleasant feeling, but it's just part of living in W. Tennessee. You get used to it after a few years. Always carry a walking stick as they are very good to use as "feelers" but also as the Scout Handbook says "to keep between you and the dog who is overly protective of his property". Happy Hunting!!

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Speaking of snakes can anyone identify this snake? I saw it yesterday while out caching.

Edit:(and is the head as bluntly oval as it looks?)

[pic removed to save BW]

 

Zack

What color is he? And are there any patterns? Hard to tell this early in the am, maybe it's just my eyes! My first guess would be a brown water snake. I looked at a LOT of 'em online trying to identify this fella after our encounter with him. Thought he might have been a harmless water snake, except for the aggressive attitude! At least I didn't have to hear an ER doc say "Yep, that was a moccasin all right!"

Edited by Spencersb
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A very high percentage of the snakes you'll find around Memphis are nonpoisonous. I had a group of Tiger Cub Scouts out on the boardwalk near the LPS001 cache this weekend and I spotted two nice sized snakes off to the side. All the kids had to come take a look. Some of the parents seemed concerned.

 

The snakes were just regular old fish-eating water snakes, though. They were hanging out in the wetland pools that have started to dry up, feasting on the trapped minnows.

 

I'm probably jinxing myself, but I have only seen one live poisonous snake in two and a half years of caching around here. It was a copperhead with beautiful coloration. I can see how it would be invisible in the leaf litter during the fall.

 

As for avoidance techniques, I just make enough noise to give the snake time to get out of the way if I'm heading off through the brush. The snake doesn't have any interest in seeing me or having me see it.

uhm...snakes can't hear.

 

They sense by feel and their tongues. So noise won't help anybody here.

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From Kayebear40s, West Texas Region

 

If anyone doubts our need here in West Texas or Texas and the Southwest in general for putting as an Attribute to watch for snakes this is why I do; I have so far encountered in 3 1/2 months of caching, two Racers, one very large Bull Snake (with brother The Real Thing), and this one deadly Rattlesnake.

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Hi All,

 

I'm a geocaching rookie in the Memphis, TN area. I keep reading on individual cache descriptions and hearing from people in the area that snakes are a BIG concern, and that we should be very careful. Now, I wouldn't say I'm full-on phobic of snakes, but I'd be very happy if I'm never suprised by one on a hunt.

 

So, I'm wondering what those of you living in areas with snakes do to be safe, especially those of you living in areas with the supposedly aggressive Cottonmouth. Basically what I do now is try to look very closely and poke around with a long stick whenever I have to step into an area I can't see well. Problem is, some caches are so overgrown that there is simply no way to see all of the ground around me. I also have been told to be very careful stepping over fallen trees, etc.

 

Thanks for any help,

Ben

 

Being observant is your best bet. I nearly stepped on a snake (non poisonous, we only have two kinds here, neither of which this was), the other day, simply because I was paying too much attenton to what I thought was GZ and not enough to where I was stepping.

 

Snakes are OBVIOUS if you are keeping an eye out for them.

 

As far as cottonmouths go.. they are one of the few that will CHASE you if given half a chance. Don't assume it will calm down, it's not a bee.. get gone and quickly if one starts up after you.

 

Use your ears. Most snakes don't want to bite you, they want to get as far from you as possible, and they make a very distinctive sound when moving through grass or the like. Pay attention and freeze if you hear that.. they are probably going the opposite direction anyway.

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Speaking of snakes can anyone identify this snake? I saw it yesterday while out caching.

 

19d45c5e-f262-4e39-a8b8-6076de73b683.jpg

 

Zack

 

Sorry if someone already beat me to this...but that is a good old Cottonmouth.

The best way to determine if you need to be concerned or not is is by looking at the snake's head.

Non-venomous snakes' heads are basically the same width as their bodies. A venomous snake has a spade-shaped head...much wider at the back to accommodate venom sacs.

Cottonmouths are also known to produce a musky odor when agitated.

 

Like someone else already said, you should definitely make yourself aware of the types of venomous snakes that are indigenous to your area.

Last weekend my girlfriend and I were out scouting a place to hide our first cache and came up on a skin that had just been shed.

It was every bit of 6'5" long...but it was only maybe 2.5" in diameter...so it was most likely a black snake (non-venomous) because they get very long, but not very fat. A rattler can get that long, but it would be much fatter.

Edited by poebaer
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The information poebaer posted is only partially correct. Pit Vipers have very pronounced triangular shaped heads. Not all venomous snakes are Pit Vipers. Find out what kind of snakes are in your area and how to identify them. If you don't know what kind it is, don't touch.

 

A little story. I saw a snake in the middle of a busy road so I got out of the car to try to get it off. We only have two kinds of venomous snakes in the east side of Middle TN and this one did not have rattles or a copper looking head. However it was being very agressive and I had a uneasy feeling so I nudged it with my foot a couple of times and it got the idea and slithered off to the woods. Later at the library I found out that there is a subspecies of Copperheads that do not have a copperhead! Do not touch if you are not sure! Leave them alone and they will leave you alone.

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