As daytime temperatures reach 90 degrees and below in the fall, rattlesnakes have a flurry of activity. With the midday soil temperatures being lower, rattlesnakes can be found sunning themselves in the middle of trails and in open bare spots. This is a time of year when the rattlesnake can be found tightly wound, and looking like land mines along trails, sidewalks, walkways and driveways. The snake is agitated and actively hunting, anxious to consume plenty of rodents for their long winters hibernation. They frequently carry large loads of venom this season for hunting purposes, making their bites to domestic animals and humans more severe. These issues make encounters between rattlesnakes and pets with their humans more likely.
I. Bite prevention:
A. Keep pets on a leash and watch where they place their feet and where you place yours.
B. Watch where your pet sticks his/her nose and look before putting arms in flower beds to pull weeks.
C. Pet avoidance training is controversial, one local emergency service who is the nations largest purchaser of antivenin, says about one third of their snakebite victims have had such training.
II. Bite treatment:
A. The only antidote to snake bites is snake antivenin, this must be administered at an animal hospital or emergency clinic.
B. Suction devices, cut and suck methods, electrical shock, and other folk lore first aid treatments have all been determined to increase trauma, and morbidity to the patient, and to delay real treatment at emergency facilities. Use your car keys, and get to an emergency facility as soon as possible.
C. If your pet has been vaccinated with so called “snake vaccine”, “vaccinated” animals still require snake antivenin after they have been bitten.
The best way to protect your pet is to be aware. If you ever suspect a rattlesnake bite or have more questions, call the office at (520) 296-2388.