Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No sense being dumb if you don't show it. . .

And, boy did I show some dumb this morning.

In nice weather I walk an hour a day outside on the Cherry Creek Trail, which runs by my neighborhood. It's a beautiful spot. I've seen ducks and egrets in the creek, deer, coyote, and the occasional wild turkey roaming across the prairie. Sometimes we'll see a bull snake. It's not a big deal, other than they're four feet long and scary looking.
We've been told that bull snakes were introduced into the area to keep down the rattle snake population, which is a good thing in areas widely populated by humans.

Well, today I saw a 4' bull snake. It was easing its way across the path. Not wanting to slow down, I pounded my feet to get the snake to move faster.

Except there was one problem. The snake wasn't a bull snake -- it was a rattle snake. Yikes!! That snake coiled up in a flash, twitched its tail and sounded its telltale rattle. Yes, I quickly got on my way.

Wikipedia says the range of a rattle snake is two-thirds of its total length, and that it can strike literally faster than the human eye can follow. It looks like I was a pretty lucky dummy.

Friends, I have learned some lessons from my mistake. One, respect ALL snakes, and two, practicing your patience is an art that is never perfected.

Wikipedia also says, "Most species of rattlesnakes have hemotoxic venom, destroying tissue, degenerating organs and causing coagulopathy (disrupted blood clotting). Some degree of permanent scarring is very likely in the event of a venomous bite, even with prompt, effective treatment, and a severe envenomation, combined with delayed or ineffective treatment, can lead to the loss of a limb or death. Thus, a rattlesnake bite is always a potentially fatal injury. Untreated rattlesnake bites, especially from larger species, are very often fatal. However, antivenom, when applied in time, reduces the death rate to less than 4%."


Kay Day said...

You should be like me and run screaming from any snake you see.
Thank God for his protection! I'd hate for you to be degenerated and coagulopathied!

Phoenix Snake Removal said...

The rattlesnake in the photo is a sidewinder, almost certainly not the type you saw. In Colorado, the species you have is the Prairie Rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis.

Bullsnakes are native to Colorado. Do you have any other information on the program to introduce them to compete with rattlesnakes? Seems interesting that fish & game would sponsor such a thing, when it can be so detrimental to local populations.

With education and respect, even high rattlesnake populations can live peacefully with people.

Hike safe!

Jan Parrish said...

Yikes! Did you have your doggy with you? Seems he would have spotted it first.

So happy you are safe!

Megan DiMaria said...

From now on, Kay, I WILL run and scream. And yes, Phoenix Snake removal, I will try to hike safe from now on. No, Jan. My dog was at home.

Now I keep hearing and seeing snakes. Ugh. I'm almost afraid to go out in my backyard.

Denise Miller Holmes said...

I used to live in So. Cal. suburb where anything wild was chased out a long time ago and replaced with cement. I am not used to the wild critters I see in my Denver suburb. It feels like I'm living in a weird, fantastical place.

I never would have expected a rattle snake along a walk (or run, in your case). So glad you weren't hurt, or "coagulopathied," as Kay says.

Thanks for the cautionary tale.

Anonymous said...

DON'T run and scream. If you stay calm and quiet you can back away or wait for the snake to move. Any abrupt motion and you could cause a snake to bite.

We had some snakes in my backyard because the house had sat empty for almost two years. I encountered them several times and waited, shaking, for them to move first based on the advice of others. I also ALWAYS carried my portable phone or a cell when I went back there even with my dogs with me. That way I figured I could call 911 to come rescue me if the snake didn't move.

Megan DiMaria said...

Thanks for the tip, Anonymous. I do carry a cell phone and I'll be careful from now on.

Jaime said...

Well at least you weren't like me and fascinated with snakes! I probably would've tried to pick it up! :)

Momstheword said...

Several years ago I almost stepped on a coiled rattlesnake at Lake Henry. He taught me how to jump sideways!