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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hikers are a waste of venom

Encounter at Camp Creek

It's that time of year again—the beginning of rattlesnake season.  A report today on KJZZ stated that so far this year, there have been 7 documented rattler bites in Arizona---none of them were fatal.  Springtime warmth brings these  reptiles out of hibernation, and when they first wake up, they are both hungry and full of venom.  They are looking for rodents—not your ankle.  Venom is very expensive for snakes to produce so they don't want to waste it on anything that's not food.  That's why they rattle and warn first and strike only when stepped on, surprized or provoked.  Amazingly, many bites are the results of people intentionally handling the snakes. (as in, "Hold my beer; watch this...")
Black-tail rattler: Parson Springs
You can greatly reduce your chances of getting serpent stung by observing a few simple rules when hiking in rattlesnake territory (virtually all of AZ):
•  Never step or put your hands anyplace where you cannot see.
•  Loose the headphones; you'll want to hear that rattle!
•  Snakes are most active in morning and late afternoon.  They seek shade (beware the brittlebushes) during the heat of day.
•  Rodent holes=rattlesnake buffet. 
•  When you encounter a snake, simply walk around it.  There's no need to harass the beast.
•  If you are bitten, seek medical help by calling 911.  Do NOT, cut, use a tourniquet or ice the wound.  Your “treatments” can contribute to tissue necropsy and infection.  If you are out of phone range, you can walk slowly toward help.
•  It is not necessary to kill or capture the snake; hospitals will know how to treat you.

Sighting in Sycamore Canyon


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