• The One About Snakes

August 01, 2019

Sssssssso, ssssssnakessssssss may not be your mosssssst favorite of Godssssssssss creaturesssssss, I have to ssssssssssay they kind of fasssssssssssscinate me.

Early the other morning, I was out walking Gracie Boeras the beautiful Great Dane up in Lookout Mountain and she got a massive attack of the zoomies and started running like a lunatic.

On the path was a long black rat snake and that thing just laid there, louche as you like, not really even flinching, while she chased back and forth, jumping over the top of him and thundering all over the place. She almost stepped on him a couple of times and he just coolly and calmly did his thing, basking in the 68-degree morning temperatures that snakes love so well. He wasn’t bothering anyone, wasn’t looking for trouble, so neither were me and Gracie.

Rat snakes, and black racers, are a very useful addition to the Ranch; we practically regard them as unpaid staff members......

They deter copperheads, eat mice and rats and are nature’s clean-up crew for lots of bugs that REALLY piss us off.

King snakes which are typically black with yellow rings around them, are also wonderful security guards.

When we moved in here we purchased two of them to live down at Dingly Dell as we knew we were likely to have copperheads around here somewhere.

I still see one of them occasionally (God only knows what happened to the other one) basking in the cool morning temperatures. I just bid him good morning, tip my cap in deference to him, thank him for his service and then leave him be.

Look, I know they’re not pretty to some people, and I know they scare the living shit out of most of us, but snakes have a job to do and they do it well...as long as we leave them alone.

Using the King snakes as we do means we are using nature to solve a natural problem and I would do that all day long rather than spraying some noxious chemical on the ground to deter snakes or worse, kill them.

I have no business upsetting the delicate balance of things by wiping out an entire species (that’s right, using noxious chemicals would wipe out ALL the snakes, not just copperheads) leaving no-one to kill the rats and mice and cockroaches. I hate cockroaches more than I hate thin people who can eat all they want.

Or people who are very organized.

But not as much as I hate people who wake up in the early morning chirpy and happy and ready to talk......I think I am definitely more likely to kill them than cockroaches.

So...... the burning question is, what do you do if your dog is bitten by a snake?

Firstly, don’t panic.

Take a look around to see if you can identify the snake, snap a picture with your phone if at all possible, as knowing just what it was that bit your dog helps greatly in the next ten minutes’ decision making process.

If you think it was a copperhead, or even a rattle snake as they are creeping up this way and no longer confined to just South Georgia, then what you do in the next ten minutes can save your dogs’ life.

If your dog is small, pick him or her up and carry them to your car; do not allow them to walk.

If you have a large dog that you can’t carry, have them walk very slowly to your car, DO NOT allow them to run.

Keep your voice calm and unpanicked as you gently leash your dog and lead him to the vehicle. Movement, and his response to your panic, will increase your dogs heart rate, causing the poison to circulate much faster throughout his body.

Get your dog to the nearest veterinary clinic and ask for immediate assistance.

Show the veterinarian the picture of the snake, or describe it fully.

If you didn’t see the snake, identify the bite site if you can, then help the veterinarian by giving a quick but full medical run-down on your dog, particularly letting them know if your dog has ever had issues with Convenia- an antibiotic injection, or Benadryl.

For a copperhead bite, the most frequent course of treatment is IV fluids to flush the poison through, Benadryl shots to stop the body’s allergic response to the venom and an antibiotic shot to lower the risk of secondary infection from the bite.
The dog would normally stay at the vets for 8-hours or so after which swelling would be starting to recede. Keep the dog quiet for a couple of days, no long walks, no high excitement and the dog should be right as rain unless it had other undiagnosed issues to complicate matters.

If you didn’t see the snake and are wondering if you should you take the dog to the vets, err on the side of caution and always let the dogs body and behavior be your guide.

Copperhead bites swell up like a tennis ball normally......even bigger sometimes, I’ve seen an entire face swell up like a bloody football (you people may call it a soccer ball but I’m saying football, because I’m British, dahling, and we invented the game) in literally one minute. Seriously!

Your dog would be instantly bothered by any venomous bite and knows intrinsically that something is wrong, so look for signs of him being ‘off’ as well as the tell-tale swelling you’re looking for.

With a rat snake or king snake bite, or any non-venomous bite, the body doesn’t have to rush to protect the bite site in the same way as it does with a venomous bite (swelling is the body’s instant reaction to trouble) and so the swelling, while still evident, is normally smaller and more localized. You still have to keep an eye on the bite area.... wash it thoroughly, remember that snakes eat rats, after all..... and get it checked out if the dog shows signs of being unwell or there’s any sign of infection, but thankfully dogs normally recover pretty quickly from non-venomous bites on their own.

Please be respectful of snakes, give them their space, let them do their job, and the next time you hear some idiot say ‘The only good snake is a dead snake’, go ahead and slash their tires, for that person truly is an asshole and must be punished for their ignorance.




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