Snakes in the USA                                           Ginger Parnell (The Pondorosa pack.                                                      

Here in Mississippi we have a warm subtropical climate. Most of the time we do have four seasons....however many of the cooler seasons such as fall, winter and spring are short lived. For example, this past year we had a very long dry summer that extended long into November....

Now...why am I bringing up the subject of snakes in the middle of winter you ask....because it is a phobia of my mom's and because two weeks ago...a neighbor friend of hers killed a rattlesnake in their front yard.

 

Yes....this was in December....we had a warm December and snakes do come out of hibernation to feed and warm themselves when the Temps are above freezing. They are slower to bite in cool weather but none the less you must still be aware that they are present.

Now....mom has had previous dogs bitten by pit vipers at our home. Pit vipers are venomous and deadly. The vipers common in the southern United States are the Copperhead moccasin, the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, The Canebrake Rattlesnake, The Cotton mouth Moccasin, and the Coral Snake. I myself have saved my mom from being bitten by a Copperhead when I alerted her to one on our carport. My brother Oscar has accidently stepped on a Cotton mouth while out walking also. We did not get bit by the snakes....but as I have related previously....mom has had many a dog that have got bit. One dog, was bit by copperheads twice and a rattlesnake once. He lived all three times but he was mighty sick from the bites. Snakebite to smaller dogs are often times more deadly than larger dogs so dachshunds will often not make it through an envenomation depending on how many times we are bit and how much venom we receive. 

Living in a rural area we see alot of snakes. Often they are in our yard. My mom has stepped on them before accidently....we have them on our porches...and when mom walks us...she has seen snakes. She is a snake magnet we think. It's inevitable that a snake will cross paths with us dogs and humans in the south. So here are tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of snake bite for humans and dogs:

1. Be aware at all times of your surroundings and keep your eyes on the ground especially on warm days.

2. Know that snakes come out of hibernation in the spring. They are on the move and are hungry and are quicker to bite.

3. Always walk dogs on leashes so that you can control them in case of a run in with an angry snake. Mom has taught all of us the command "Leave it"....that way if we start messing with a snake and she says this...we know to back off.

4. Be aware that vipers are nocturnal and are hunting at night. So keep a flashlight handy when dogs are let out for their business. It's important to be able to see and identify the snake you encounter.

5. Keep us dogs from digging in holes or rooting around fallen trees. Snakes like to hide. Watch out for snakes under leaf piles...snakes often blend in with fallen leaves. Stick to exposed and clear paths....do not let us romp in tall vegetation.. Also...beware of swimming in ponds and lakes with us. Cotton mouths are water reptiles.

In case one of your pups are bit by a snake....try to identify it. Take a picture if possible....but do not get near it or try to kill it. Your dog will be hurting...so pick your dog up and try to keep him calm. Check the pup for fang marks. Do not let your dog walk... Even if it was non venomous....the bite needs to be seen by a vet...it may need cleaning and antibiotics. If fang marks are noted...there will be bruising and swelling...do not try to cut it open or try to suck the venom out. You may want to give liquid anti histamine on board....transfer your dog to the vet immediately....the sooner you get them there...the quicker they can give IV fluids and anti venin. My vet does not keep anti venin in Stock because it's so expensive and the shelf life is short....our vet will have to have it transfered from a local human hospital.

So many of you do not have a problem with snakes in your area and you are very fortunate you do not have to deal with them. Mom can tell you though...there are snakes in every state of the US except Alaska and Hawaii. She has lived in Hawaii before and won't return there....so we think one day she will pack us all up and move to Alaska so we will become sled dogs...that way she won't have to deal anymore with snakes....

Ginger Parnell                                                                                                              

Mississippi USA Editor

 

 


 
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© Diana Bailey