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Snake is standout in northeastern Washington

WILDLIFE WATCHING — “Rubber boa: Pend Oreille county's only native constrictor,” says Bart George, wildlife biologist with the Kalispel Tribe.


Clinic prepares dogs for rattlesnake encounters

HUNTING – A rattlesnake aversion clinic for dogs, using live adult and juvenile snakes, put on by Natural Solutions of California is set for June 27 in Lewiston. Cost: $70.

Pre-register to schedule individual time slot: (208) 413-3032 or email shellyd181@gmail.com.

Video: What it’s like to walk into a rattlesnake den

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Spring and fall are the best times to find rattlesnakes congregated by a den, if you happen to stumble upon one.

Montana resident Michael Delaney took this video — clearly he was wearing leather boots and chaps — and offered this insight:

The den is only about 1/2 mile from our house, and we just came across it one time. The best times to find them at the den are in the spring when they're coming out and in the fall when they're going back in. During other times of the year you usually won't see anything there. Then den is right next to a tall creek bank, I think they use the cracks and holes from erosion as their den. 

IF YOU'RE SQUEAMISH about snakes, do yourself a favor and don't watch this video.

I post this to illustrate what you could walk into in portions of Eastern Washington and Idaho… and why you would want to back out immediately.

Wildflowers blooming at Steamboat; snakes, too

HIKING — A Spokane couple returning from a camping-hiking trip to Steamboat Rock State Park this weekend have several recommendations for folks who want to follow their footsteps:

1. Go now. The wildflowers are beautiful, with the balsamroot on the downward swing but bitterroots are just ready to bloom.

2. Keep the tent screen zipped closed.  They found two rattlesnakes in camp, one huddled against their tent and one under their cooler.

3. Use hiking poles and if you hike with a dog, keep it on leash.  They encountered two more rattlers on the trail while hiking to nearby Northrup Canyon. One was on the aggressive side, which is rare. But they felt more comfortable after they gathered up hiking sticks to thwart any advances. With their dog on leash, they had no problem.

Dishman Hills rattlesnake puts teen in hospital

WILDLIFE – A girl struck by a small rattlesnake in the Dishman Hills Natural Area required three days of hospital care despite getting to Valley Hospital for treatment within 40 minutes.

The 17 year old girl stepped off the trail while hiking with a friend in the northeast corner of the Valley natural area near 8th Avenue on June 1 and thought she was stung on the ankle by a bee.

Her father said she had no warning — perhaps she stepped on its tail — and that it wasn't until after it struck that the small snake crawled a few feet away rattling.

The snake was only 12-15 inches long. Experts say random rattlesnake bites are extremely rare. Most snake bites are the result of people trying to catch or handle the snake.

Doctors administered antivenin, but the swelling continued to get worse for 20 hours all the way up to her knee.

Doctors were at the brink of resorting to surgery to relieve the pressure when the swelling began to subside.

Two weeks later, her leg is almost normal.

Doctors gave the family this insight on rattlesnake bites during the treatment:

  • Don’t use a constricting bandage or tourniquet. “(The victim and her friend) wrapped it tightly with a handkerchief,” the father said. “The doctor says this traps the poison in a small area where it can do more tissue damage.”
  • Stay calm and don’t run. The girl ran about 200 yards to get to a car. “The doctor said it’s best not to get your heart pumping.

What the youths did correctly was to get to medical help as fast as possible, he said.

“Without quick treatment with antivenin, it could have been a lot worse.”

Rattlesnake bites man in Clarkston Walmart

DANGEROUS WILDLIFE — The Clarkston Walmart had a special on rattlesnake bites Saturday.

A man says he reached down to pick up a stick lying in the gardening aisle of a Wal-Mart in Clarkston, Wash., only to discover that it was a rattlesnake that then bit his hand.

On the lighter side, some people are asking if the snake blended in because it was made in China?

Read the AP report here

Rattlesnakes very rarely are agressive except when disturbed.  Most rattlenake bites occur when someone accidently puts a hand down near a snake, as in scrambling on rocks, or, more often, when someone intentionally tries to handle a snake.

The photo above was taken the same day in Montana by wildlife photographer Jaime Johnson.

The warm weather is letting the snakes be active.

Snake fights back against attacking osprey

WILDLIFE — I have not been able to track down the source of these November photos that are making rounds on the Internet, but they tell an intriguing tale in the world of predators and prey.

Apparently a paddler pulled from the water an osprey that had tried to make a meal of a snake.  But the snake was able to wrap itself around the osprey's neck and lock into a choke hold.

The rescuer reportedly is shown untying the snake from the half-drown bird and letting it loose, while the osprey stood, drying in the sun and trying to recover.  That's all I know.

See for yourself. Click “continue reading” for the unattributed text in the email describing the rest of the fascinating photos.

Oh deer! Python has big appetite

WILDLIFE — This week's story about the havoc Burmese pythons are inflicting on wildlife in the Florida Everglades has been brewing for quite a while.

Here's my November blog post featuring photos of a python that had swallowed an entire deer - whole.

Everglades python not a dainty eater

SNAKES — Assuming you've eaten your breakfast, check out the AP photo from Everglades National Park showing the capacity of a Burmese python for consuming an ENTIRE deer — whole.

Indeed, they kill alligators, great blue herons and full-grown deer, but Florida wildlife officials say these large reptiles are unlikely to be aggressive to humans.  Read on for the story from the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.

TSA: Man hid snakes, tortoises in pants

MIAMI (AP) — The Transportation Security Administration says a man tried to board a flight from Miami to Brazil with nylon bags filled with exotic snakes and tortoises hidden in his pants.

TSA spokesman Jonathon Allen says the man was stopped after passing through a body scanner at Miami International Airport last Thursday. Security officials spotted the nylon bags filled with seven snakes and three tortoises stuffed inside the man's pants.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports the animals were taken by the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife. The unidentified passenger was arrested.

Snake-infested house traumatizes residents

An eastern Idaho house that's infested with so many snakes that the ground around it appears to move has been abandoned by its traumatized residents, who were told when they bought it that the snakes were was just a story invented by the previous owners to escape their mortgage, reports AP reporter Jessie Bonner. The former residents of the five-bedroom Rexburg home said it was like living in a horror movie; a wildlife biologist says the house likely was built on a winter snake den, where  snakes gather in large numbers to hibernate for the winter. Click below for the full story.

Snakes alive! Rattlers, bull snakes on local trails

WILDLIFE WATCHING — I've had the pleasure of seeing snakes on at least a dozen of my area hikes in the last month. Most of them were large but harmless bull snakes — no rattles at the end of the tail — but three were rattlers, which also are mostly harmless unless you try to play with them.

I saw the bull snakes in Riverside State Park, the Centennial Trail, Little Spokane River, Fishtrap Lake and Hog Canyon Lake. 

I came across the rattlesnakes along the Snake River and at Steamboat Rock State Park. One rattler at Escure Ranch had been killed.   I prefer not to kill rattlesnakes.  While poisonous if provoked, they do far more good than harm.

Bull snakes, also known as gopher snakes, are among the largest and most often seen snakes in this area.  It's not unusual to see them sunning along the Centennial Trail, where I once saw a red-tailed hawk swoop down and fly away with a bull snake writhing it its talons.

An alarmed bull snake sometimes tries to take on a scary rattler persona by coiling and  vibrating its tail. It can even make a bit of a rattling sound without a rattle. And it's especially scary when it starts hissing.

Bull snakes and rattlers alike eat large numbers of rodents, although they also take a small toll on ducklings.

Heed seasonal precautions for spring hikes

HIKING — In your enthusiasm to get on the trail among the blooming wildflowers, don’t forget the basics of trekking in dryland areas:

•Take plenty of water plus a means of purifying water en route.

• Use sunscreen liberally and cover as much skin as possible with clothing, not only to protect from sun, but also from ticks.

• Ticks can be active and waiting, especially in sagebrush country. Pride yourself in the nerdy look: tuck pant legs into socks and wear light-colored lightweight long-sleeve shirts. Check for ticks in hair, and other places.

• Rattlesnakes are just as eager as hikers to get out and about. Be alert for them on the trail. Watch for movement in the grass. They don’t attack unless provoked, a concept that’s often lost on the family dog.

• Poison ivy infests many dryland areas, especially along river corridors, such as the Snake. While most hikers know the “leaves of three, leave it be” adage, some might not recognize the menacing plant in spring, before the leaves have come on. Watch for long or tall woody stems festooned with clumps of white berries. Contact with them can cause rashes.

• Carry a compass and a map of the area.

• Leave your trip itinerary with a responsible person who will contact authorities should you not return on schedule.

Rattlesnake response: much ado about nothing

WILDLIFE — A rattlesnake that slithered near a Kennewick playground on Thursday was quickly dispatched by a police officer and tossed in the Columbia River.

According to the Associated Press, a Seattle couple called 911 when they spotted the snake moving in the grass near the playground. Families cowered in their cars until the police arrived.

My God, was the snake toting an AK-47?  Was it chasing people? No.

Read on for the rest of the AP report. Sheesh.

Male rattlers risk only pride for right to breed

NOT QUITE RAGING REPTILES — Despite the fear and loathing rattlesnakes provoke, they fight like gentlemen among themselves.

Ray Sasser of the Dallas Morning News described; a spring battle between two male western rattlers vying for mating rights to a nearby female.

The snakes were about the same size – each about 4 feet long ­– and engaged in a bout that lasted about 20 minutes.

“The rattlers are not immune to their own venom,” Sasser points out. “Out of professional courtesy, they don’t bite one another. They instead perform what amounts to an arm wrestling bout, which sounds weird for an animal that doesn’t have arms.

“Rattlers make up for the lack of appendages by substituting their bodies for arms, rearing as high as possible off the ground and trying to force their opponent into submission.”

Man reports snake theft 14 months later

IRONWOOD, Mich. (AP) — Police in Michigan's remote western Upper Peninsula probably won't make a recent snake theft complaint a high priority.

That's because the man reporting is pet stolen says it happened in November 2009.

The Daily Globe says the Ironwood man filed the complaint Monday. He says he thinks he knows who stole his snow corn snake from a home in Ironwood.

Police say they asked him why he waited 14 months to come forward, and he said he was doing “some bad stuff” with friends at the time his snake disappeared.

Officers say they interviewed the woman fingered as the thief, and she denied stealing it.

Her theory? The man just misplaced it.

The man says he bought the constrictor on the Internet for $80.

APhoto Of The Day — 11.23.10

A street magician swallows a snake in Antananarivo, Madagascar Monday as he performs and later pulls them out. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Top Cutlines:

  • 1. Saying he would never own a hybrid vehicle, Art “Snakes” Mahoney implies he never Madagascar he didn’t like — JohnA.
  • 2. President Obama attempts to unravel a variety of issues stemming from his first two years in office — Linda Cook.