How Drought Affects Your Pets … and You!

It seems as if 1/2 the country has too much rain and the other 1/2 doesn’t have enough!  We live in the part that is in a drought.

Coral Snake: Remember the jingle - 'Red & yellow kill a fellow, red & black venom lack.'

Earlier this summer, I moaned about having 145+ days without rain.  Then we got a break and the skies opened and gave us almost 2 inches of rain.

Our part of Texas should have already had about 30″ of rain so far this year, but we are hovering around 10″ of the wet stuff.  Veterinarians are warning about the consequences of so little rain.

Snakes are Biting More Pets

Rattlesnakes are the most likely biter of man and animal! You know what the rattle sound means, but your pet probably doesn't!

The next time Fido goes outside and comes back inside limping, you might want to check your pet.

Our younger pet (a Bassett-Hound) loves to snoop in our stacks of fireplace wood.  He can chase a gecko, or other lizard, for hours.

Unfortunately, the drought has brought all kinds of animals, reptiles and insects closer to homes.  Why?

They are searching for water and food.  As the rodents and insects move closer to homes, they bring snakes … and anything else that eats them as food sources.

Our Bassett came back in with a lump on his right haunch and seemed agitated.  He couldn’t find a comfortable sitting position.   He couldn’t lie still.

Sure enough, the vet confirmed that he’d been bitten by a snake.  Even with medication and a shot, it was several days before Porkchop (our Bassett) was back to his happy self!

How Can You Lessen the Chance of a Snake Bite? 

1) Remove tall grass and piles of trash in the yard.

2) Make wood piles “off-limits” for the rest of the drought. (We put portable fencing around our wood.)

3) Pay attention to your pet. A lump and strange behavior are indicators of trouble.

Next Time:  Save Yourself, or your Children, from a Bite!

This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

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Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 11:26 am  Comments Off on How Drought Affects Your Pets … and You!  
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Emergency Situations While Hiking or Hunting

No matter how well you plan, emergencies arise.  Are you ready?

Snake Bites 

If you remember the rhyme, " ... red & yellow kill a fellow, ...." you know this is not a venomous snake!

If a snake bites someone in your party, the day’s agenda will change!  The most important job you have is helping the injured party.

First, let’s dispel a few myths.  Rattlesnakes don’t always rattle before striking.  They may not rattle if they have just shed their skin.

You don’t have to worry about bites because you have chanced upon a mom snake with her babies.  Generally, snakes are live births and the babies strike out on their own rather quickly.

Solutions to Your Snake Problem

  • Is the snake venomous?  If you don’t know, don’t assume!
  • Keep the victim (and the rest of the group) calm.
  • Discourage folks from sharing gruesome snake stories!
  • Wash the wound with soap and water.
  • Keep the victim quiet and discourage them from walking around.
  • Keep the bitten area (usually a hand or foot) below heart level.
  • Take the victim to the nearest medical facility.
  • Don’t waste time trying to kill the snake; many secondary bites happen this way!

Animal Bites

This is a rare occurence in the field — but it does happen. How do you handle this?

  • If the skin is broken, wash the wound with soap and water.
  • Apply pressure to the bleeding, if any.
  • Determine if the attack was provoked.
  • If the animal attacked without provocation, you must consider rabies!
  • Notify the authorities as quickly as possible (county sheriff, etc.).
  • Seek medical attention for the victim.

Insect Stings and Spider Bites 

Black Widow = Shiny with Hour-Glass Shape on Lower Abdomen; Brown Recluse = Violin-Shaped Mark on Top of Head

Bees and wasps are common pests in the outdoors.  Solutions include:

  • Wash the sting with soap and water.
  • Put a cold pack on the injury for 15 -20 minutes.
  • Give aspirin (acetaminophen to children) and apply cortisone cream.

Some folks have an allergic reaction to stings/bites:

  • Their wound swells quickly – beyond normal bounds (toe sting swells the whole leg, etc.),
  • they can have shortness of breath,
  • have a sudden drop in blood pressure,
  • become anxious and restless,
  • have a rapid pulse

THIS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY! Get medical help immediately!

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Black Widow Spider, Brown Recluse or Scorpion

  • Clean the wound with soap and water,
  • Apply a cold pack,
  • Seek medical attention ASAP!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Why Rattlesnakes are Important!

Until I started doing research about snakes, I thought ‘the only good snake was a dead snake!’  However, I found that snakes are important in keeping nature balanced.

The Rattler’s Habitat

The rattler evolved in hot and dry locations and that is where he prefers to stay.  Only the Massassauga (Sistrurus catenatus) rattler tolerates moist places.

Rattlesnakes live in desert regions, agricultural fields and they often migrate to high, dry woods for summer.

Their rattle would not function well if the rattlesnake had to swim, burrow or climb. The rattles are of the same substance as your fingernails.

This Image was Used (again) Because it Shows the Pits of the Rattlesnake. Draw an Imaginary Line from the Nose to the Eyes. Just Below the Line are the "Pits."

Why Rattlers are Called Pit Vipers

Rattlers, and their close cousins, are pit vipers.  This refers to the pits situated on either side of their faces.

These facial pits are actually sense organs that detect heat.   That means that they can detect objects that are warmer than their surroundings — which usually means another animal.

These pits are so sensitive that they can figure out the exact location of their prey by comparing the differences in messages coming to each pit (somewhat like triangulating their prey’s position)!

The rattler’s pits can detect warm and cold-blooded prey!  They also help the rattler find the best place to sink their fangs; they rarely miss the chest region of their prey!

The facial pits of rattlers limit  their choice of habitat — they would not work well in water, while burrowing into sand or while climbing!

A Rattler’s Dining Options

Because of those ‘heat-seeking’ pits, it isn’t surprising that rattlers eat warm-blooded mammals.  In fact, about 85% of their dining selections are mammals.

Certainly, what rattlers eat depends on the size of the snake and its situation.  It is most likely that the rattler is indifferent to seeking out specific mammals.

Biologists show that rattlers will eat whatever is available — and what will fit in their mouths!

Maintaining Ecological Balance

Rattlers control populations of squirrels, rodents, rabbits, hares, ground-nesting birds, lizards and other snakes.

They help farmers by controlling the numbers of rodents and other small animals that would spoil or decimate agricultural products.

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Soon: The Rattlesnake’s Tongue & Jacobson’s Organ

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‘Mojave Rattlesnake’ used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

 

Published in: on November 9, 2010 at 8:38 am  Comments Off on Why Rattlesnakes are Important!  
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Some Fascinating Facts About Rattlesnakes!

This Mojave is a mid-sized rattler that rarely grows longer than ~ 39 inches!

Snake Bites

If you have no interest in getting bitten by a snake, the best states to inhabit are:  Alaska, Maine or Delaware (These states do not have wild rattlesnakes). *

‘Caution’ is the watchword in the states with the highest number of snake bites per capita:  North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, Georgia, West Virginia, Mississippi and Louisiana (in that order).

Who Gets Bitten?

The likely victim of a bite is determined by: Location, the age and occupation of the victim, plus the time of day.

As America becomes more urban and suburban, conflicts between man and snake decline.  Thus, snake bites become less of a problem each year.  However, if you are one of those bitten, that statistic is of slight interest!

Most snakes are nocturnal.  Rattlers also prefer to slink away, and not strike.  However, this brings up the next human reason in the equation:   Boys and men are more likely to be aggressive towards snakes.  When a snake sees no choice, he strikes.

Males, between the ages of 20 – 30 are the most likely group to be bitten by a rattlesnake.  Most snake bites occur in the spring and summer, while snakes are most active.

As one might guess, the hands and feet are the most likely areas to receive bites.  This has something to do with the next factor:  occupation.

Folks who are in agricultural jobs are the most likely to be victims of a snake.

If You Don’t Want to Be a Statistic

Here are a few ideas for avoiding a snake bite:

  • Are you in an area inhabited by snakes?
  • Are you wearing high leather boots and long pants while in “snake territory?”
  • Are you reaching into an area where you cannot see what you are touching?
  • Are you moving around in places where snakes usually hide?
  • Are you walking at night in an area known to have snakes?
  • Is someone in your group harassing a snake?
  • Are you stepping over something (log or rock), but can’t see what is on the other side?
  • Are you wading in shallow water?
  • Are you wading along banks in thick, wooded areas?

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* There are a few reports of snake bites in Delaware – probably from captive snakes!

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‘Mojave Rattlesnake’ used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on November 8, 2010 at 1:16 am  Comments Off on Some Fascinating Facts About Rattlesnakes!  
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What to Do When Bitten by a Snake (Some Surprising Answers)!

This is the last of the three articles about snakes:

After Being Bitten

Just Because You Don't Expect to See a Coral Snake in Water Doesn't Mean he Can't be There!

If you are bitten, there are some things you can do to lessen the effects.

  • Stay calm!  Remember that frantic activity will hasten the spreading of the venom throughout your body.
  • Stop extra activity; reduce your movement of the bitten limb.  Over 98% of all snake bites are to the hands and feet!
  • Try to keep the area of the bite lower than your heart!
  • Before the swelling starts, remove your jewelry (rings, watches, etc.) and any tight-fitting clothing.
  • Do not try to capture or kill the snake.  That’s how folks get multiple bites!
  • Don’t add heat of cold to the bite.
  • Do not try to remove the venom yourself!
  • Do not apply home remedies to the bite.
  • Do not use a tourniquet  or constricting band around the bite.
  • Do not use aspirin or related meds because they can increase the bleeding!
  • Get to a medical facility as quickly as possible.
  • Call 911 or the Poison Control Center (1-800-764-7661) to find out which medical centers carry antivenom.
  • Be able to describe the snake to emergency medical staff.
  • Don’t be fooled by a lack of symptoms!
  • You might be in an area where there is no hospital; look for a doctor’s office.
  • Walk – and don’t run; drive carefully – don’t race down the road;  keep calm – don’t use frantic movements.

The Movies vs. These Directions

If you are an adventure fan of movies, some of these directions fly in the face of old movies.  Do you remember when a hero applied a tourniquet to the hapless victim’s bitten limb?

Or better yet, remember how your face shriveled up looking at the hero cutting the victim’s limb and sucking out the venom?

Well, there was a problem with those solutions.

People spent so much time finding a tourniquet, getting a knife clean, etc., that they delayed getting the bitten person to a hospital.  Folks died from the help they got!

These directions urge you to get help from those best able to handle the crisis effectively!

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Well, I’m tired of snakes; on to other subjects!

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Snake photo – courtesy of Wikipedia!

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This blog is a companion to my website: GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

How Can We Share a Snake’s Territory Without Getting Bitten?

This article is a follow-up to yesterday’s Would You Recognize a Venomous Snake?

This Mojave Rattlesnake is Ready & Watching!

As the earth warms up in spring, snakes come out of hibernation and reluctantly meet humans.

Given a choice, they would rather never see a human.  Perhaps it has something to do with our attitude.  Most folks admit that they’ve “…never met a snake they really liked.”

Sharing the Outdoors With Snakes

Folks who insist on camping, fishing, hiking and hunting are very likely to run into a slithery serpent.  Here are a few tips for preventing snake bites.

  • Are you in an area inhabited by snakes?
  • Are you wearing high leather boots and long pants while in “snake territory?”
  • Are you reaching into an area where you cannot see what you are touching?
  • Are you moving around in places where snakes usually hide?
  • Are you walking at night in an area known to have snakes?
  • Is someone in your group harassing a snake?
  • Are you stepping over something (log or rock), but can’t see what is on the other side?
  • Are you wading in shallow water?
  • Are you wading along banks in thick, wooded areas?

Caution On Land

If you are walking in an area that is known to have snakes, it is important to wear suitable clothing and leather boots.  Monday, I read an interesting blog, Denim May Guard Against Rattlesnake Bites.

The organizers of the study stated, “… denim clothing proved effective at reducing venom injection by both small and large rattlesnakes. Wearing long denim pants as an alternative to shorts may provide a simple, low-cost means of reducing the severity of snakebites.”

It is also advisable to carry a long stick, to test the waters before putting your hand or leg into an unfamiliar area.

Remember that snakes like to hide in logs or under leaves, waiting for supper.  These simple hiding spaces are successful;  a serpent can find enough mice and lizards (in this way) to stay fed.

Danger In & Around Water

Water Moccasins don’t seem to have a sense of humor.  They are always looking for a ‘bite’ so it is very important to stay aware when walking in and around water.

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For More Info About the 4 Venomous Types of North America: see Snake Dangers & River Tubing

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Snake photo – courtesy of Vantage Point Graphics

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This blog is a companion to my website: GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Would You Recognize a Venomous Snake?

As the weather warms up, folks start to get nervous about coming up close-and-personal to snakes.

I won’t go so far as to say that ‘snakes are your friends’ but I will point out that snakes do a great job of controlling insects, rats and mice populations.

Snakes Just Want Peace-and-Quiet!

Few snakes are interested in confronting you.  Given the opportunity, most will slither into dark recesses, instead of going toe-to-fang with you.

The Bad Boys of the Snake Kingdom

This Diamond-backed Rattlesnake Usually Warns People Off by Rattling His Tail!

It took me years to understand that there are 4 main groups of venomous snakes … and the others may bite, but they have no venom.

Therefore, let’s talk about the ‘bad boys.’  Most people who are bitten by venomous snakes, get their bites courtesy of rattlesnakes.

Rattlers usually show their readiness to bite you by shaking their tails … however, this is not a guarantee!

Some just lunge and bite!  Frankly, this is going to make a mess of your day!  My suggestion is to move away quickly when you hear the distinctive rattling sound.

Three More to Go!

The coral snake can be identified through the rhyme:  “Red and yellow,

A "Red and Yellow" Snake Will Kill a Fellow!

kill a fellow; red and black, venom lack.”

If you are bitten, head to a medical facility immediately.  Stay calm and take deep breaths to relax yourself.

Rushing around will only cause the venom to spread faster!

These Guys Don't Play Around!

Water moccasins are in and around water, particularly in the shallows near low-hanging branches.

They don’t leave much to the imagination!  A Moccasin shows his fangs freely.

Finally, I want to mention the Copperhead. They are a real problem where I live (Texas).

Even Young Copperheads are Capable of A Dangerous Bite!

We live in open agricultural land and Copperheads seem to like to bask in the sun on cool days.

Generally, they are found in gardening mulch and compost piles and under decaying stumps.  Two more places to watch are: under large, flat stones and under decaying stumps.

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All snake photos are courtesy of Wikipedia!

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Next Time: How to Avoid Snakes; What To Do When You Are Bitten

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This blog is a companion to my website: GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

If You Meet a Rattlesnake**

This is One Puppy I'd Leave Alone!

If you are camping, hiking, or even out hunting, you should pay close attention to your surroundings.  While you are enjoying the scenery or excitement of hunting, keep an eye out for a fellow-traveler … the rattlesnake.

If You Hear a Rattle …

You are probably within 4 – 5 feet of a rattler.  This is no time to decide to out-run the reptile.  This is the time to freeze-in-place.

If you patiently stay in place, you can out-last the snake and he will slither off.

If you start to run and the snake is ready to strike, there is no way you can move fast enough!  Remember that rattlers can leap forward one-half the length of their body.

And if He Bites?

Rattlesnake bites are very dangerous.  Remember how we learned to ‘cut and bleed’ the bite and then apply a tourniquet? Forget it!  That is s-o-o ‘old school.’

Within 30 minutes, the bitten area will swell up and turn black & blue. The accepted policy now is to use an ace bandage or soft cloth. Put it between the bite and your heart.

Don’t tie it as tight as a tourniquet — cutting off circulation isn’t the idea. The best plan is to hurry to get medical attention immediately after applying the bandage.

Interesting Facts About Bites

Not everyone who is bitten gets venom in the bite!  In about 30% of cases, no venom is transferred during the bite. Your best protection is thick clothing and leather boots.

Another surprising statistic has to do with the location of the bites: About 98% of snake bites are to hands and feet.

Finally

Rattlesnakes, or any snake, for that matter, prefer not to bother with you.  They would prefer to slither away — in peace.  Don’t force them to attack. It will ruin your day!

Don’t let your undies get bunched up over snakes.  Remember that we share the earth with snakes, and they were here first!  Just use caution and reason.  The truth is:  Snakes like you less than you like them!

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Jim sent this very interesting comment: “… rattlesnakes don’t always rattle prior to striking. I can’t sight my original source for this information but here is a quote from wikipedia (suppose to be referenced but I could figure out which reference when with what information). “Adult snakes may lose their rattles on occasion, but more appear at each molting. If the rattle absorbs enough water in wet weather, it will not make noise.” Just thought I’d pass it along….”

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This blog is a companion to my website, EasyOnlineOrdering.com

Snake Dangers & River Tubing

Is Every Snake Poisonous?

If you see every snake in the US as a potential killer, you’d best confine your tubing adventures to a swimming pool!

Snakes tend to hang out in warm waters; however, they tend to be mostly non-poisonous.*

Suggestions to limit your meeting these “fanged foe.”

  • Don’t bother or tease snakes,
  • Go around snakes, avoiding them where possible.
  • Stay out of shallow water as much as possible
  • Stay away from banks in thick, wooded areas

4 Poisonous Snakes in America

Cottonmouth Water Moccasin Snake — This is the only poisonous American water snake; usually found in southeast parts of the US.

According to Wikipedia, Cottonmouths are ” the world’s only semi-aquatic viper, usually found in or near water, particularly in slow-moving and shallow lakes and streams.”

 

Cottonmouth - olive, black, brown skin with fangs he's eager to show off!

Cottonmouth - olive, black, brown skin with fangs he's eager to show off!

 

Most snakes are as afraid of you as you are of them. Not so with the cottonmouth!  He usually stands his ground and even likes to show the white lining of his mouth — just so you know who should run first!

Being bitten by a cottonmouth is going to ruin your day, believe me.   You can avoid this meanie by staying in the middle of rivers and by avoiding banks with shallow water.

 

Diamond-backed with an Evil Eye!

Diamond-backed with an Evil Eye!

Rattlesnakes — These snakes are available from Canada to Mexico.  They provide more trips to the hospital and unplanned deaths than any other American snake!

Fortunately, they give an intruder advanced warning of their strike — with the rattling sound.

The Eastern Diamondback has more venom in a single bite than any other snake. Caution!

 

Copperheads have no sense of humor!

Copperheads have no sense of humor!

 

Copperheads – This snakes venom is potentially lethal. Need I say more?  Oddly enough, he is copper colored!

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Coral Snake – Absolutely lethal! Remember the rhyme, “Red and yellow kill a fellow …..”  Watch for the banded yellow, black and red snake.  Others, with similar bands (but not in this order) are non-lethal.

 

'Red and Yellow Kill a Fellow ...'

'Red and Yellow Kill a Fellow ...'

The good news is that this snake is not looking to cause trouble.

Finally

  • Become familiar with the 4 poisonous snakes,
  • Take a snake-bite kit
  • Use it — if needed and
  • Get the victim to a hospital ASAP.

* I used to think that non-poisonous snakes did not bite and poisonous snakes would. That is incorrect; any snake can — and will — bite, if provoked. The venom in non-poisonous snakes just won’t kill you!

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All snake photos are courtesy of Wikipedia!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Be Careful – Surprise in the Leaves!

Be careful while walking in or raking leaves !!!

In fall, when all the leaves drop on the ground, underbrush gets crowded with leaves and limbs and copperhead snakes. Be careful when you rake those fall leaves.

** If you received damage from a hurricane, as we did, watch for snakes and rats in the tree debris on the ground.

Folks in the Houston-Galveston area have lots of tree damage. While we’re waiting for the debris to be removed, this is no place for children to be playing. Reports of snakes and varmints are routine around here.

CAN YOU SPOT THE SNAKE?..

 

Can You See the Snake?

Can You See the Snake?

 

Well, here it is . . . . — As always, “thanks” to Dorothy139

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com