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Rattlesnakes in slots?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by JWP2024, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. JWP2024

    JWP2024

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    Hello All,

    I am sure many of you have encountered this canyon challenge... How frequently are you guys encountering rattlesnakes in the slots and best suggestions for "getting around them"?

    Thanks,

    Josh
  2. qedcook

    qedcook

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    Probably a dozen times. The worst is when they are in a pool and you have to swim past them!! Yikes!!

    But honestly, if you find them in a canyon, they are usually struggling, and hardly have the warmth to move at all.
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  3. JWP2024

    JWP2024

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    Not my worst nightmare but up there...
  4. Steve D

    Steve D

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    Sometimes you get lucky and are in a narrow enough section of the slot to stem over them. Other times, just understand that if you keep as much distance as possible, they will typically let you pass without much difficulty.
  5. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    Hardly ever encountered, and hasn't been a problem. As @Steve D said, you can usually get by. I know of one instance where the quarters were too close, so someone draped a T-shirt on top of it to get the party past. Snake didn't move. T-shirt didn't either.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019 at 1:29 PM
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  6. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

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    Seen few rattlesnakes in the slots themselves. Not really a good environment for them. Far more on the approach (Subway and Orderville are the two that come to mind), or wider spots like the initial rappels in the Blarney forks. One under a boulder in Yankee that we never saw but rattled everytime someone stepped on the rock to pass by. Never been a problem in a canyon, except one time I almost downclimbed directly onto a coiled up rattlesnake in an upper fork of Keyhole. He was unhappy about the situation and so was I. So don't do that, I guess. Once I pulled myself back up he slithered off to find a better place and could proceed. As a general rule they really don't want to have anything to do with you and will go to great lengths to keep it that way.
  7. Kenmoto

    Kenmoto

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    Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
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  8. townsend

    townsend

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    Thanks for posting the video, and I also want to express my thanks and admiration to the individual who rescued the snake. I recognize that most of us have neither the skills nor equipment to safely carry out a snake rescue. Most snakes, venomous or not, will surely die in certain canyon environments.

    Snakes are an important species in the ecosystem, and they have been unfairly demonized by humans (for reasons we won't go into). Though I live in western CO now, I lived most of my life in Texas, and I once had relatives who lived in Sweetwater. Sweetwater is the home of the Rattlesnake Roundup, which is sponsored annually by the Sweetwater Jaycees.

    Roundup is a complete misnomer -- rattlesnakes are not commonly and freely crawling around within the city. It is rather a rattlesnake holocaust, in which snakes are routinely tortured and killed -- for human profit. Almost all the snakes are collected from the desert, after the collectors use noxious gasoline fumes to flush the snakes out into the open from their dens. (note: other reptiles species -- nonvenomous -- are also cohabit these dens.)

    Many snakes die before the roundup, from suffocation and dehydration -- at the bottom of large metal barrels, where they are confined prior to the event. Investigative journalists who attend the event to expose the cruelty are barred from the event, and some have even been arrested by local law enforcement.

    There seems to be a prevalent myth that snakes don't feel pain. This is simply false. Snakes are vertebrates with advanced nervous systems and feel pain like other vertebrates. (It is true that they don't have vocal chords, so they can't cry out like a mammal would.)

    About five years ago, the TX Parks and Wildlife Department raised an alarm over the method of using fossil fuels and their vapors, which are otherwise prohibited from contamination of native landscape. Moneyed interest and politicians eventually silenced the opinions of state wildlife biologists.

    I am not arguing for anyone to endanger themselves; rather I take this opportunity to point to one of many instances of animal cruelty that is completely unnecessary and destructive. These rattlesnakes weren't bothering anybody; let's leave them alone and help them if you can do so safely. Thank you -- you may now return to your regularly scheduled debate about the best knots for a biner block. [off the soapbox, for now]
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  9. sail2fast

    sail2fast

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    I have encountered and also rescued rattlesnakes out of canyons. My house turns out to be a rattlesnake haven, and we can find them easily around and sometimes inside the house in the summer. So I've had plenty of chances to practice with them. Rattlesnakes do have personalities, but are generally non-aggressive (that is, it usually takes quite a bit of prodding before they strike).
    They can only strike approximately 1/3 of their length (not scientific--just my observation), and they generally won't strike until after giving quite a bit of warning. As long as you give them room and don't poke at them, they are unlikely to strike at you.

    Definitely keep outside their striking distance, but if you have the urge to rescue one you can chase it into an empty pack with a stick (that is typically our technique around the house). They are definitely not smart enough to realize that the human at the other end of the stick is the aggressor--they will always strike at the stick. If they are caught in a keeper, they may die, so help them out if you can...

    Rattlesnakes bites can be life threatening in the backcountry, though not so much near medical attention. We have a 100lb dog that has been bitten many times and lived (without treatment), but know of other medium sized dogs who have died. It is rare for fully grown humans to be killed by rattlesnakes (some kinds are more lethal than others), but bites can cause lasting damage. Last time I looked into it, the prevailing medical advise was to keep the heart rate down and seek medical care. Cutting / sucking poison was not advised...

    I'm not a doctor or anything. Just someone who has to live around snakes...
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  10. townsend

    townsend

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    Thanks for sharing your experience with rattlesnakes. A couple of additional comments:

    1) A rattlesnake vaccine for dogs and horses has been developed: http://www.redrockbiologics.com/rattlesnake_vaccine_for_dogs.php
    However, please read this review article at Science-Based Medicine by a veterinarian: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/are-rattlesnake-vaccines-for-dogs-effective/
    This article raises some serious questions about the efficacy of the vaccine, so the upshot is don't count on it. Sail2fast's 100 lb. dog has probably developed some immunity from previous snake bites. And being 100 lbs. is a much larger volume over which to distribute venom (which might be lethal to medium-sized dogs).

    2) Snake venom is often described as hemotoxic or neurotoxic. Hemotoxic venom destroys tissue around the bite (and beyond); neurotoxic venom enters the blood stream and targets the neuromuscular junction; this can lead to death by asphyxiation (i.e., paralyzing the muscles that move the diaphragm, disabling respiration).

    A relevant summary statement from the article "Neurotoxic snakes of the Americas":
    "The other poisonous snakes of the Americas are crotalids, which belong to the pit viper family. The majority of these snakes have predominantly hemotoxic venom, but a few species are predominantly neurotoxic. These are the Mojave rattlesnake found in the southwestern United States, a few timber rattlesnakes of the southeastern United States, the tiger rattlesnake in the Sonoran desert, the neotropical rattlesnake of Central America, and the bushmaster of South America." [bold added]
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5762023/

    It is hypothesized that venom originally evolved from saliva, in order to subdue and kill prey: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_snake_venom
    Therefore, it is probably best not to view venom as "static."

    3) Any bite by a snake with neurotoxic venom is a life-threatening emergency. And don't be surprised by tissue damage as well -- see above article ". . . predominantly neurotoxic."

    4) Even a bite by a snake with hemotoxic venom can be lethal. In the last decade individuals from Missouri, Maryland, and Tennessee have died from copperhead bites. And the tissue damage from a hemotoxic venom can be very serious and extensive (check youtube videos).

    5) Treatment: see the above article, but the most important recommendation is to transport the victim to an emergency facility as soon as possible.
    In the field, don't forget to remove any constrictive jewelry or clothing from the victim. And immobilize the extremity if possible (if bitten on arm or leg).
  11. Downward Bound

    Downward Bound

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    Be careful when stepping over a ledge. There could be a hidden recess with a surprise.



    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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  12. Sandstoned

    Sandstoned

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    I did Bear Canyon and rapped into the pothole (below first rap) where the rattler was. My buddy went first and was in the water and saying up to me there was a rattler down there. I didnt believe him until I rapped in. He was just above water line, must have been washed into the canyon from above, and had found a crack above the waterline to somewhat get into. We finished the canyon and then a few days I was thinking bout this little fella, and contacted a local guide service (garrett from center focus...dont even know if they are around but found them on line) and a presumably he contacted a local serpentologist maybe from Out of Africa and soon thereafter the video was posted. He was cold and sluggish for sure.
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  13. Sandstoned

    Sandstoned

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    rattlesnake.PNG

    this guy was a beauty...just about a foot long, a baby...in lower waterholes canyon...didnt want to bother him BUT had to get in close for a photo
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  14. Sam G

    Sam G

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    As others have said... snakes in canyons are almost never there by choice, they're usually cold and unfortunately on their way out. Just give them a wide berth and.. ah who am I kidding, I'm just here to show my snake pic. :)

    The muddy shoe print on the chockstone is where I was standing when I noticed the snake....

    15Rattler.
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  15. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Respect them, do what's best for them; typically there's at least one member of every group that has a friendly deportment toward the less-cuddly critters - they get elected to confront the none-shall-pass arbitration. I can certainly respect that.

    And then there are those who want the prey-and-predator boundaries clearly delineated. Always respectful to their rights of habitat and that WE ARE the alien invaders in the wild. I will willingly play nice and expect the favor returned and trespass quietly and quickly along.... cause I'm not well known for being long suffering, patient and gentil when it comes to serpents.

    And don't kid yourself, they're better swimmers than most of humanity.
  16. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    By "getting around them" I presume you mean how can you rescue them and then release in an area amenable to their long-term survival?

    They are usually cold, and looking for a way out. If you present them with a dark hole to slither into, sometimes they will take it. The lid of a pack with the zipper partly open, presented to them, might entice them inside. Zip the zipper. Handle gently until in an appropriate spot. Unzip the lid and step back... snake rescued.

    I have encountered a Mohave Green Midget in a canyon, and it was not cold. We put a pack in front of it (using a ski pole), everyone darted past, then the pack was removed with a ski pole. No problemo.

    Non-venomous snakes are somewhat easier to rescue, especially if small. In a cold pothole, they will sense your warmth and slither onto your arm and hold on. Again, into the pack lid works pretty well. Wearing gloves and a wetsuit takes away the ick factor.

    Tom
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  17. townsend

    townsend

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    Snake venom is fascinating to me. I first read about neurotoxic venom in the Mojave rattlesnake about fifteen years or so ago. At that time, that was the only North American rattlesnake identified with neurotoxic venom. In the article cited above, neurotoxic venom has also been found in some southeastern timber rattlesnakes, and in the tiger rattlesnake as well.

    This all makes sense in an evolutionary framework. Depending on environmental conditions (diet, reproduction, predators, etc.), snake venom will change over time. Lots of chemistry required to analyze what's going on.

    BTW, I remember reading a blog about a herpetologist in the southeastern U.S. who was bitten by a timber rattlesnake he had in his collection. I am fairly certain it was one with only hemotoxic venom. He had some pictures of the tissue damage and they were ugly with extensive bruising, tissue necrosis, etc. Any snake venom is to be taken very, very seriously.
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