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 Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA

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jalepeno
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PostSubject: Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA   Mon May 11, 2015 2:02 am

Yesterday I was hiking with Bodhi in the woods near where I live in Portland, OR.
Suddenly he darted sideways into the grass at the side of the trail and emerged with a garter snake.
He promptly started throwing it in the air and biting it before I got it away from him.

This initiated some worry about a future trip I was going to take with him next month.
The plan is to meet an old friend at Fallen Lake Lake near Lake Tahoe and do day hikes in the Desolation Wilderness.
The lake is at 6400 ft. in the Sierra Nevada.

How concerned should I be about rattlesnakes?
Californians?
Bodhi will be on a lead, but still...
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TwisterII
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PostSubject: Re: Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA   Mon May 11, 2015 10:42 am

A lot will depend on the weather at the time. My aunt used to live in the relative area and they are definitely there. I don't think they are so prevalent that the people are required to put their dogs through snake training as people in Arizona are (my husband is from Arizona and all their dogs were required by law to go through snake classes), but they are around and you will want to watch and be vigilant.

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Hughie
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PostSubject: Re: Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA   Mon May 11, 2015 6:45 pm

Snake classes? Do they teach them to ignore the snakes or is it more involved than that? Something I never thought of.
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jalepeno
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PostSubject: Re: Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA   Mon May 11, 2015 6:48 pm

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blueeyedghost
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PostSubject: Re: Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA   Mon May 11, 2015 7:55 pm

This is something I worry about with us moving to Colorado, especially with us living right on a wildlife preserve right up next to the foothills.

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PostSubject: Re: Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA   Mon May 11, 2015 8:35 pm

Taking a snake class would probably be the best thing you can do. If I remember correctly, it's not even time consuming, like an hour or two, and it's pretty effective. Treatment for a snake bite is very expensive (between $450 and $700 per vial of anti venom ) and one vial doesn't always do the trick, not to mention the pain and tissue damage the actual snake bite itself causes. The class, to me, is a worthwhile investment. I need to do one with my dogs. There is a "vaccine" for snake bites, given before snake season usually, but it doesn't eliminate the need for vet treatment should your dog get bitten and is pretty costly as its a series of boosters, and it's effectiveness hasn't really been proven. Precautions to take are of course, keeping your dog away from high grasses, digging or sticking it's head in or around rocks, keeping your ears open for the sound of a rattlers warning, etc. just be very careful. They really can be anywhere. A neighbor of mine dog was bitten by a rattler and the snake was in their pool! The cost to keep him alive was in the thousands of dollars (was bitten in the eye) also, protect yourself too! I bought a pair of rattlesnake guards when I was working in my canyon below my house (we have to do the "safe" clearance thing for fire season here) basically these fabric (camouflage print) covered metal things that Velcro around the bottom part of your legs, they're not heavy or uncomfortable either, might be worth looking into for yourself.
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blueeyedghost
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PostSubject: Re: Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA   Mon May 11, 2015 10:33 pm

On a side note, I've experienced those San Diego fires firsthand, and respect the need to clear stuff. My SERE class almost got trapped in the mountains near Temecula (I think Mt Palomar is where we do our field training) by the fires in 2007. That was some scary shit, we were watching the fires come over the ridges towards us.

I've done some cursory research into the vaccine, and I need to do more. We used to have a member here who is a vet tech in central California, and I know their practice highly recommends it to their clients. I also need to start looking for a new vet in Colorado for that matter...

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Shadow - 03/01/2013 - 10/02/2014

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Artic_Wind
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PostSubject: Re: Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA   Mon May 11, 2015 11:16 pm

My canyon is one that hasn't burned...yet. So I WANT to protect this house as much as I possibly can. My brother lost everything in the 2003 wildfires, including his dog Sad he was helping a neighbor to start evacuating her mini-horses and while doing so, winds changed direction and by the time he got back up there, they weren't allowed back in.

From what I read, the vaccine given to dogs before getting bitten doesn't eliminate the need for treatment, it slows down the initial process of the venom doing its damage (which IS great for buying some time, especially if you are in a remote area) but a person shouldn't think that because the dog has the vaccine, he's safe. That is not the case. The dog will still need treatment. That's my understanding anyways. I look forward to learning more about it.


Last edited by Artic_Wind on Tue May 12, 2015 1:02 am; edited 1 time in total
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aljones
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PostSubject: Re: Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA   Mon May 11, 2015 11:38 pm

To my knowledge - notice the qualification - there is one rattle snake vaccine available in the US (world?) manufactured by Red Rock Biologics.

One of the best write up on the vaccine is by Jo-Amme Bremmer and is definitely worth the read if you're considering the vaccination.

Neither of my dogs are vaccinated (nor are most dogs in this area) since the primary culprit in snake bites is the Mojave Rattler - and the anti-venom does nothing for this snake.  Just for information purposes, the range of the Mojave Rattler does *NOT* coincide with the Mojave desert (actually more closely with the Chihuahuan desert).

Don't think that just because you've had your dog vaccinated that "all is good" any rattle snake bite is a veterinary emergency!

Adding a note here:  If you're out and about with a dog in a snake area, you should be carrying OTC Benadryl with you.  The normal OTC Benadryl is 25mg with 1mg given per pound of weight (so normally two caps).  This does a couple of things, quickly; it relaxes the dog and reduces the swelling.  Make sure that you buy a caplet/tablet that contains only Dyphenhydramine (sp) -the active ingredient in Benedryl.


Last edited by aljones on Tue May 12, 2015 12:14 am; edited 2 times in total
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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA   Tue May 12, 2015 12:03 am

@aljones wrote:
Don't think that just because you've had your dog vaccinated that "all is good" any rattle snake bite is a veterinary emergency!

As well as a psychiatric emergency for this momma affraid I don't do snakes!
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Artic_Wind
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PostSubject: Re: Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA   Tue May 12, 2015 12:44 am

Al, what is done then for the bite of a Mojave Rattler if the anti venom doesn't work?

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aljones
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PostSubject: Re: Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA   Tue May 12, 2015 1:04 am

Treated symptomatically.  Removal of any dead flesh (killed by the snakes venom); dyphendramin IV and as much TLC as possible.  Necrosis at the site of the bite is the major problem. Simply  they either live or not ... surprisingly, many do though few without scars.

Followup for the California crew: the range of the Mojave covers most of San Bernardino county and extends southeast from there through southern Arizona and New Mexico into southwestern Texas (the Big Bend Region, of course) on into Mexico where it's found in most of the country.
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blueeyedghost
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PostSubject: Re: Rattlesnakes in Desolation Wilderness, CA   Tue May 12, 2015 8:35 pm

The Mojave is also neurotoxic, unlike other rattlesnake venom which is hemotoxic (though, strong evidence of the Southern Pacific being both hemo and neurotoxic exists)

I'm well aware of the vaccine just being a stop gap measure, but it's definitely important to note that because people do think it's all you need. For me, I'd feel better knowing I'd at least bought some extra time, especially since we're going to be spending a lot of time in the CO backcountry where it can take hours to get off the trail and then more hours to get to a vet. I need to do more research, but the snake classes are a must in my mind and I need to put together both human and canine snakebite kits to throw in with my regular first aid kit for hikes.

I'm actually surprised I haven't come across any in Maryland, we have a lot of timber rattlers and copperheads.

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"Being the parent of a special-needs pet means living your life constantly poised on the edge of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you become a fierce defender of the ways in which your little one is perfectly ordinary — all the things he or she can do that are just like what everybody else does. And yet, you never lose sight of how absolutely extraordinary that very ordinariness is, how difficult, remarkable and rewarding that fight to be 'just like everybody else' has been."  -Gwen Cooper, "Homer's Odyssey"

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