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Snake season

Here in the southwest deserts the weather could'nt be better for hiking. With afternoon highs in the mid 70's to upper 80's its been perfect. But remember all critters enjoy this weather, especially or non-legged friends.

Tho I have'nt seen a Rattler yet this year on the trail, the Lizards tell me there out and about.  No I have'nt lossed my mind and having conversions with the Lizards (tho I do talk to em now and then, they just never have much to say)

My last few hikes I've seen tons of lizards! They where very active in the mornings and then sunning on the rocks untill  the hottest part of the afternoon before taking cover in the shade. When the sun gets low they're out and about again. Well as the Lizards do, the snakes do. They too will be out in the open during the day catch'n some rays, and finding nice shady spots for the afternon heat.

Contrary to popular belief  RATTLE SNAKES WILL NOT ALWAYS RATTLE TO ANOUNCE THEMSELFS! I've walked right past within a foot of them and never herd a thing outta them untill I stopped, noticed em, then of course had to mess with em a bit with a stick, then he rattled and wandered off.

If you just use a little caution and common sense you can avoid a bad encounter. If you do come upon one, Please dont harm them, they wont attack or chase you down. If you give them a chance they want nothing more then to be left alone and to get away.

Always pay attention where your putting your feet and hands

If you have to go thru thick brush or bushes, leed with your poles, staff or any random stick. Let it surprise the snake and take the hit. Just one more use for trekking poles ...... snake charming.

Anyhow, just thought I would put a friendly reminder out about snakes.

Enjoy the weather and have safe travels


IMHO fear of snakes in North America is over rated. True you can get bit, but the chances of dying is less than drowning in your bath tub. Yes I respect them, don't kill them and usually leave them alone. But I have been places in the world where snake bite is a big deal, so I see them and usally go the other way.

If wearing shorts a pair of heavy durty snake resistant / proof gators is not worth not having if you are hiking in any area that has a potential of snakes being an issue.  Also if it will take a while to get lifted out. If not venomous enough to kill you the toxin in their venom can have a tremendously bad affect on your human functions and also flesh destroying.  Yes, not everyone bitten by a snake dies, but there usually is some consequence.

Hi all,

Pulled this of of wickipida

"There are about 20 species of venomous snakes in the United States: two species of coral snakes, 16 species of rattlesnakes, one species of cottonmouth or water moccasin and one species of copperhead. At least one type of venomous snake is found in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. About 7-12 people per year are killed in the United States by snake bites with most being attributed to the eastern and western diamondback rattlesnake. Copperheads account for more cases of venomous snake bite than any other North American species; however, their venom is the least toxic so their bite is seldom fatal.

Venomous snakes are distributed unevenly throughout the United States — the vast majority of snake bites occur in warm weather states. States like Florida and Texas have a wide variety and large population of venomous snakes. Bites from venomous snakes are extremely rare in the states near the Canadian border. Maine, for example, has only one species (Crotalus horridus) Timber rattles and it is rarely seen only in the southern part of the state."

According to the CDC, 7,000 non-fatal snakebites are reported annually.

As it says 7-12 people die of snake bits each year.  You are much more likely to die driving to get to the trailhead of your out door adventure than dieing from a snake bite. 

You are much more likey to get injured in a motor vehicle accident on the way to your outdoor aventure that be bit by a venomous snake.

With that being said.  You may not die from a snake bite but depending on a number of factors, it can be just as life theratning and or debilitating as a severe car accident.  The factors are many.  Body size, hydration, type of venonom (type of snake), alcholol  level in the blood, if your actually allergic to the specific venom, etc.  Many times if a venomous snake is delivering a defensive bite it will result in a dry bite.  A dry bite is when the snake is useing the bite in a devensive mode and delivers little to no venome at all.  There is no way to know when this happens, you only find out after the fact.  The most important fact in saving the life and or mitigating the severity of the bite is makeing sure the person stays calm and and keeping the person from going into shock (as much as possible), while getting help as soon as possible.  The faster a person recives the proper will usually determine how sever the bite will be. Usually you will want to call (phone) for help.  If not possible someone will want to go for help if possible.  The person who was bitten should remain as calm and comortable with the least amount of physical movement as possible.  *Important, do not lose your wits, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO IDENTIFY THE SNAKE FOR THE PROPER ANTIVENOUM, (if you can take a picture do it, if you can't and don't know what kind it is you may have to kill it to show the proper authorities, remember a freshly killed snakes are jsut a venomous as live ones, this is the one instance I will kill a snake.  All other encounters can and should be resolved peacefully.) . Current thinking is that  tourniquets for snake bites are a bad idea.  There is much to read on this subjuct (both snake bites and the use of tourniquets on snake bites).

Remeber, a snake can only strike a third the length.  If you are 2 feet frome a 3 fto snake he/she cannot bite you.

Though the encounter of venomous snakes or lizards (the mexican beaded and gila monster) should not be minimilized in any way here is a list  of venomous critters that you are much more likey to run into. (I'm sure I've missed some)

Honey Bees-drop your pack and run.  I've had to do this

Bumble Bees-drop your pack and run.  I've had to do this

Africanized honey bees- drop your pack and run,run,run fast and hard.  They cna chase you for long distances Luckily no expreience

Wasps (includes yellow jackets)- (both ground nesting and nesting above ground) drop you pack and run fast and hard.  I've had to do this

Hornets- (both ground nesting and nesting in trees) drop your pack and run, run, run, fast and hard.  I've had to do this

scorpions-  some can be deadly,  usually the smaller they are the more venomous.  I've had them as pets but never run into them in the wild.

Spiders.-  most likey problem spiders are the female  black widow (and related species) and the Brown Recluse or Fiddleback Spider.  I've run into Black Widows many times, almost always gathering wood or clearing a place for my tent (they also love out houses, check before sitting).  I've never run into a Brown recluse.  There are a lot more spiders with varying degrees of venom.  Most just deliver a painful bit and do not need medical attention. 

Ants.  Fire ants. They can and will do you harm.  They are the Borg of bugs. They can eat thru your tent wall in very little time.  I have not had opportunity to camp with them,  but a numer of years ago I was playing frizbee in my bare feet.  Before I knew it my foot was covered up to my ankle and they seemed to bite all at once. Pain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, much like a man-o-war sting.   My foot swelled up and it festered, took a 3 weeks to recover. 

Alas,  as I have draged on for a while here I think a good subject for another topic would be.  Epipens and their proper use.

Photo of a cute little fellow I passed on the trail a couple weeks ago. No, not a rattler, sorry. But I was 16 when I got bit by a rattler - snake died, I was fine (true story, no exaggeration, there's more to the tale, but I told it here before, so no repeats).

IMHO fear of snakes in North America is over rated...

I beg to differ. 

I have encounters dozens of rattle snakes over the decades.  As an eleven year old I stepped right over a large one coiled up, napping in the tall grass.  My friend following behind noticed it.  While rock climbing I stuck my nose over a ledge and found myself staring eye to eye with one about eight inches away.  Another time I actually grabbed one by mistake, while feeling for a handhold during a climbing. And then there are the ones that you see slithering through camp.  I like to sleep under the stars; I always shake out my bedding before crashing.  I wonder, however, when one is going to cozy up to me while I am asleep.  I always take a snake stick on all cross country hikes traveling through brush.  My stick is about five feet long, and arch shaped to probe around behind objects I approach, to flush snakes lurking on the blind side of stuff.  The stick has kept me safe a half dozen times or more.  They are out there, and the intrepid frequent hiker will have multiple encounters each season.  Fatalities may be minimal, but having witnessed pets and a person suffer the pain from their bites sustained, I believe the fear is well warranted.

Fear aside, there are few wide life observations more fascinating than rattlers in a mating waltz.


Tennessee has it's variety of snakes. 32 different types of them. But, only 4 are venomous. The Copperhead, the Timber Rattlesnake, the Cottonmouth, and the Pigmy Rattlesnake. I have come across a Coral Snake - once in West Tennessee, about 28 years ago.

I have never liked them and in my younger years killed quite a bit of them when encountered. I have stepped on 'em, unintentionally grabbed 'em, and brushed up against 'em (in the water). 

But, over the years have learned that they are part of the outdoors and serve a useful purpose. I am always on the watch for them and sometimes encounter 'em when I least expect it. 

I will gently re-direct their travels when they are in my path, but otherwise, I will just observe them for a minute and then move on. Between my four legged hiking partner and my walking stick, we can generally make enough noise for them to stay away.

But, yes - always on the lookout for those nasty little critters.

Statistic:   Ten-out-of-ten people DIE.

Are you ready ?

Yogi Robert

Statistic:   Ten-out-of-ten people DIE.

Are you ready ?

Yogi Robert

Yes, but Geeeeee Yogi, how morbid.

Oh wait, wrong Yogi.

"Life is a Pic-a-nic Basket!"

Yogi Bear

Living in the desert southwest, I'm aware of keenly rattlesnakes, but rarely see them.  I did a 10.3 mile loop the other day in very warm weather.  The trail was very rocky and covered in brush.  Prime rattlesnake territory, to be sure, but I didn't see one.  In fact, I see only a couple each year - but I bet many more see me!

When I was a teenager, growing up on the upper Chesapeake Bay, I was bitten on the hand by a Copperhead.  I keep that snake for a year in an old 10 gallon aquarium.  Yes, I had antitoxin shots, but really didn't suffer too badly from the bite (or the shots, for that matter).  I probably wasn't severally envenomated.

These days, I often carry a hiking pole, which I most often use to poke around with.  It makes a good tool to move weeds and branches out of the way, or to encourage the occasional snake off the trail.

It is definitely snake season. I took my boy and his friend on a hike of the Widhorse Peak trail through the Arroyo Seco Creek yesterday morning and was hoping to see some reptilian wildlife. The trip did not disappoint. Here we saw a good-sized Southern Pacific Rattlesnake taking a drink, something I've not seen before. I had to move him out of our way as he was in our water path. Splashed him and he moved up on the rocks.



We also saw a couple of Striped Racers and a Coast Horned Lizard, plus a variety of other lizards and frongs too numerous to mention. But snakes are always a concern for me, especially when I have children with me on hikes. My rule is that I always take the lead in order to scan the path and it's surroundings for any potential encounters with venemous snakes. That goes for any time of the year it is not snowing. Case in point, I found this Mexican? Black Rattlesnake at 7900 ft on a backpacking trip to San Jacinto Peak in October with temperatures in the low sixties in the sun. Now granted, it was moving slowly, but I was suprised to see it in those conditions.




I just wanted to chime in here real quick, I see everyone is concentrating on the venemous species. I am quite familiar with the snakes that can be found in the bc. Everything from the overly tempermental Cottonmouth to a plethora of other species not to mention hemotoxins, neurotoxins, etc.

No matter what snake it is venemous or non-venemous it can still cause a potential problem. Their mouths contain some gnarly bacteria. If it can break the skin it can pose a problem.

I've never had a problem with them. If you respect their distance they definitely will stay clear of ya.

An excellent point, Rick. Wild snakes of all types are better left alone. Flesh-eating bacteria are even worse than flesh-eating venom.

Rick, have you tried out that new tent yet? 

Xterro-Back yard(for set-up familiarity.) Its gonna get used here shortly. I plan on doing a review of it here in the not too distant future. Want to put it thru some torture 1st. Never really saw the sense in reviewing a product until I put some mileage on it. So far though I really like it. Time will tell though.

I'm with you on the use before review process. Have fun with it.

Definitly best to leave all snakes alone. As kids we used to catch all kinds of snakes. King snakes, Red racers, Western Garters and even one Coral mistakin for a King (same color bands but in diffrent order) But after some runnins trying to catch some Bull snakes and Coachwhips, which both have some serious bad attidudes, decided my snake catching days where done!

Did spend a couple summers catching Rattlers with a girlfriends Dad who made belts and hat bands. He was frikn nuts! He got bit several times trying to make pets out of a couple Sidewinders. He would freeze them for weeks before skinning them. But still you had to be carefull when they would thaw out, tho dead, sometimes when you would touch them they would still lash out from nerve response.


BTW the reason for starting this thread was not to instill fear but to promote awareness

A good thread Rhino. They are amazing creatures but yes, they are not to be trifled with.

AH yes, Bees, Wasps, hornets and Fire Ants

Some definite attention getters. Got stung in the lip twice by a Yellow Jacket in a soda can once while Elk hunting. Never thought a lip could get so big without bursting. Was real goofy looking and very painful for about a week.

Was reading a thread here about a week ago about first aid kits. And If I remember right it was Xterro that said you carry Benadryl in yours. Makes good sense. Ive since added that to my kit. I know its benificial for bees and wasp and such, but its got me wondering if it would help in the case of a snake bite?

Nothing wakes you up in the morning like a couple Fire Ants up the pant leg.


Xterro - Cool pic of the drinking snake! Never seen that before

Hey, JimDoss (and others here) ~~

I am near the Chesapeake Bay ... on the 'Del-Mar-Va' Peninsula.

Lotsa copperheads, water-moccasins (same thing as cotton-mouths).   Non-poisonous, but with bad attitudes this time of year (they are all emerging from their hootches now) are 'black-racers' .   Man!   Those things can move ! (hence; the name).

Yogi Robt

Fire ants and wasps scare me more than anything. I have been on the verge of anaphylactic shock before from fire ants. I give all snakes a healthy respect, but the little boogers scare me.


high elevation rattle snakes in Marble mountains of Northern california.  Saw a rattle snake at 6800 feet elevation near water sunning itself on a cool September morning.  I had always assumed they were not there in higher elevations, obviously not true.


"Was reading a thread here about a week ago about first aid kits. And If I remember right it was Xterro that said you carry Benadryl in yours. Makes good sense. Ive since added that to my kit. I know its benificial for bees and wasp and such, but its got me wondering if it would help in the case of a snake bite?

Nothing wakes you up in the morning like a couple Fire Ants up the pant leg."

Xterro - Cool pic of the drinking snake! Never seen that before



I wasn't in the first-aid thread that I recall (doesn't mean that I wasn't, however-the memory is a tricky thing) but I do in-fact carry Benadryl and meat tenderizer for stings/ant bites (meat tenderizer is amazingly effective).

As for the photo, yeah I couldn't believe it either. I was hoping to get my phone out fast enough for an action shot of it actually drinking, but it caught on to me.

The flu is WAY more likely to kill you than a snake.  And not the swine,bird,monkey or any other exotic flu either, the basic, garden variety kind. 36,000 are killed by the regular flu in the US annually. 

 Lightning is also more likely to kill you than a snake. Sure they are scary, but really? BFD! The ones who get bit are the ones who mess with them.  I live in a kinda-desert, I see plenty in the Summer.  I like them b/c they keep Seattle people away from my favorite climbing areas! 

The most dangerous part of your hike is the drive to the trailhead. 

Six people in the US have died of snake bite in the 2000s.  From 1990 to 2003 126 were killed by lightning in FL alone!

1500 people yearly win over a million in lotteries annually.  WAY more likely than dying from a snake bite.

Like getting eaten by a bear or cougar, death by snakebite makes news because it is so UNLIKELY. 

NOT a realistic death risk. Worry about that doughnut; its much more likely to kill you. 

One genius found a wayt to get killed in the mtns by a GOAT! Are we going to start wearing goat bells?


agreed on most points, and I do not fear snakes (owned two of them), but I am concerned about my kids getting bit. The one time I let my daughter get ahead of me on a trail was on a cool day in the fall on a local trail. She would have been struck had her brother not pulled her away in time. The risk of permanent damage to a child is much greater than a 6 foot personal trainer.

I don't let my kids eat donuts more than 5 or so times per year. They can be dangerous, to your point. We do however, see rattlers more than 5 times annually.

As for the Goat attack you're referring to, which occurred up your way, I seem to recall that the man was defending his family members (he was a senior I believe) and the Goat was a rogue and violent. It is quite irreverent to use sarcasm in describing the demise of a fellow outdoorsman, especially one who was trying to defend other people.

Yes, the odds of dying by snakebite are extremely low, but mitigating risk is always prudent.

I admit that I am quite worried about me or my little rascals being bitten while we frolic through the sagebrush.  I also acknowledge that my fear is rather irrational.  I think fear of snakes is ingrained in Western Civilization, so I live with it. 

I am glad we agree on keeping away from doughnuts.

One death is tragic.  36,000 killed by the flu doesn't seem to be newsworthy though.  Call me sick or cynical (my humor runs dark) but I had to snicker a little when I read that headline.  To paraphrase Rowe: everyone dies, I hope he was ready.  Death by goat or by doughnut produces the same result, but goats make headlines. 

Once I passed a snake on the trail with a group of students of mine "Is that snake poisonous?!?!" asked a frightened teen. 

"No, of course not," I answered.  "Don't worry, its not poisonous...[wait for it...] its venomous." 

LOL! Doughnuts are "poisonous". I can't say that I was upset when the Krispy Kreme in my town shut down.

I agree that 36,000 killed by the flu deserves more attention, and it speaks to the importance of good hygiene while physician friend told me that there are 3 mutations of the swine flu floating around SoCal as we speak. The best 4 oz of weight I add to my pack is a bottle of Purel.

Killer goats do attract readers, that's for sure.

We're all gonna die ....

Yogi Robt

Especially if we are chasing goats and disturb a snake while he/she is chowing down on a bear claw. :)

Nice, Rick! LOL. Better for men to stare at goats than to chase them, I always say. 

And yes, if a snake is chowing down on a bear claw, its got to be a badass. Bears don't often relinquish their paws without a big fight.

The rarest of all hiking experiences is to see a snake chowin' on a couple of Doe Nuts...

And I thought I had a Disturbed and Cheezy sense of humor. Y'all killin me here! LOL

Is it OK to stare at doughnuts,while wiping drewel, knowimg ya cant have em?

And is a Boston creme still poisonous if you milk the custard out of it?

I think the phrase "milk the custard" just entered the American English lexicon.  A proud day for the language. 

Now, for a situation to use it in a sentance....

Sounds like the name of a climbing route.  I call dibbs on that one!

Wow....a proud day for the language...but not for my keyboard!

Great thread here

Well if you milk the doughnut of its venom this would make for a "dry bite" would'nt it?

You guys are on a roll.

"Milk-the-custard", 'eh?  

Hmmm ....

I'm not gonna touch that one ....

Yogi Robt

Please put the bear claw down and back away very very slowly. Yep, need a therapy session(grabs football helmet and crayons while muttering complete jibberish.)

Back to snakes lol, anyone have any interesting experiences? I found a nest of Copperhead eggs(with mom) one time at hunters training course. I was 12 exploring rocks during a break in a dried up creek bed looking for salamander, spiders, and apparently snakes. Almost got popped by a Timber Rattler planting shrubs.... then again there was this one time that I almost got attacked by a cow on my buddies property....

I for one would love to hear the tale from Bill S about how/why the snake died. Or could you give us a link for the thread to read

A buddy of mine had a dog that went everywhere we went, we spent lots of time training him to avoid snakes with the rattle off of one. We would make the rattle and he would snap to attention and head the other way. One day a rattler wandered into camp, buddy jumped up and  hollard "snake!" Snake coiled up instantly and started rattling. The so called well trained dog jumped up and stood right over top of it! Luckily he did not get bit before we got him away from it.  

I went to a concert at Jones Beach, Long Island, that featured "White Snake".

I was in no danger, however.   I was about 30 yards away.

Yogi Robt


My snake story:

I was changing hand-line irrigation one Summer evening.  The two sections of pipe weren't going together like they were supposed to.  In the dim starlight I saw that a stick was sticking out of the end of the offending pipe, preventing them from coupling.  I pulled the stick from the pipe end realizing only then that it was the pointy end of a small ratlesnake.  With a rather girly-sounding shriek I flung the snake away.  I found out later that it had been long dead when I grabbed it. 

The other snake story:

I was on day nine of a wildfire in the Frank Church Wilderness with a USFS hand crew.  Another crewman from another crew came running back to the cook shack yelling about the huge "diamondback" rattler he had encountered while attemptine to use the latrine.  With shovels and pulaskis in hand we trooped over to the latrine to reclaim our crapper from the leviathan.  Upon arrival the frightened would-be latrine user identified the location of the great viper.  Peeking over the small mound of the latrine we beheld, not a diamondback, as previously reported, but another deadly species, the "cornback" rattler!  The mammoth corn-encrusted turd made no attempt to flee as we burried it and returned to dinner.  For the remainder of that fire we warned newcommers to the camp of the dangers of falling into a den of cornbacks. 

Actually Cornback might have been a better SN for me come to think of it.  

What?   No tomato-skins ?

Yogi Robt

Cornback rattler?  LMAO! thats classic


I'm sure that story will end up in one of those "Wildlife Attack Survival Stories" books.


Hay, my hunt club down in SC is the Okatie SC is home to the Okeetee Corn Rattler.  It's not fun to be attacked for entering the habitat of a rattler, and "snake boots" are a must if you are going off trail.  These snakes are pretty, but they are very territorial.

August 12, 2020
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