In The Desert
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Hostile, ill-tempered, unprovoked offensiveness, attacks, invasions, assertive and bold -- these are all definitions of "Aggressive." Are all snakes aggressive? Are some docile? Are there extenuating circumstances that can cause this type of behavior? Of course there are! But will you know what causes this type of behavior? Maybe not! Here's an example.
An defensive Mojave Green Rattlesnake. One of our first rattlesnake photos, and what a pose. Anyone looking at this would agree that they are aggressive. But you don't know the whole story behind this photo. Just as we stopped to get this photo a Border Patrol truck flew over the hill behind us and drove right over top of this Mojave. Imagine what the noise and ground vibrations must have felt like to the snake.
In a matter of seconds the snake took off and headed into the desert. We've often thought how scared it must have been, just wanting to be left alone. The top photo is very misleading!
And as another example, here is a Speckled Rattlesnake. This one chased me into the vehicle 3 times and just seemed really annoyed. So what caused this behavior?
Certainly we'll never know why he was so agitated. But think for a minute, maybe a fox, coyote or bird of prey was after him right before we got there and this put him on edge. We're not trying to make excuses for the rattlesnake. But use common sense when approaching a snake in the desert wilds. You have no idea what stresses it's under, where it came from or if it's hurt. IN OTHER WORDS, USE COMMON SENSE.
Very few snakes are as easy to handle as this glossy snake was. For example a coachwhip, or red racer, will often strike anyone that tries to handle them. If you're not knowledgeable about snakes then don't try to handle them or interfere with them in any way.
The Coral Snake has a toxic venom, which is similar to that of a Cobra, yet are less toxic than several species of rattlesnake. These snakes pose less of a threat, if they are not handled, due to their small size, small mouth and small fangs.
Snake Toxins -
Neurotoxins: which attack the central nervous system causing loss of motor control, paralysis, respiratory problems and death.
Hemotoxins: which affect the blood, blood vessels and cause tissue damage. Rattlesnake bites can be serious.
Most rattlesnakes use a venom that is Hemotoxic. Although this is less toxic than the Neurotoxins it can cause loss of limbs and even death if not treated as soon as possible. Some Mojave Rattlesnakes have both toxins.
Okay, you've been bitten, though we certainly hope you don't let that happen. Now, it's off to the hospital to get your anti-venom, CroFab. Hopefully, you didn't get a big dose of venom, or you got a dry bite and received none at all. Not only is a snakebite dangerous to your health it could also be dangerous to your financial well-being. See the hospital bill below.
CroFab is made by only one company, BTG plc, that is based in the U.K. When we published this the hospital paid roughly $2,300 per vial, with a typical dose requiring four to six vials. In many cases, multiple doses are needed according to CroFab's promotional Web Site. Hospital bills can range from $55,000 to over $200,000 depending on the extent of damage caused by the venom and associated effects.
Look closely and you'll notice the largest part of this bill is for the Pharmacy. Hospitals often charge $10,000 to $20,000 per vial. Will your insurance cover this?
After reading and researching for this publication we've come across a lot of misinformation. The most blatant one is that some species of rattlesnake are very aggressive and will attack you for no reason. We've spent years finding these different snakes and don't believe this to be true. Marty Feldner, a herpetologist, said - "In other words, snakes are responding defensively to the threat a human poses, they are not being the aggressor and trying to attack a human. Of course, humans tend not to see things this way due to their culturally inherited fear and misinformation about snakes, but it doesn't change the fact that snakes don't want to interact with people and, given the opportunity, will generally flee rather than stand their ground".
We hope you found this informative and accurate. Many people are misled by bad information about snakes on web sites and social media. This information pertains to areas in the U.S. desert southwest and snakes that are found there. Snakes are an important part of our ecosystem! Treat them with respect.
Both Mojave photos taken in Tacna, AZ
Photo taken in Southeastern Ca.
Photo taken near Yuma, AZ.
Original Article -- Washington Post Web Site
The Tiger Rattlesnake has the most toxic venom possessed by any rattlesnake species so far tested. The Mojave Rattlesnake has the second most toxic venom of a rattlesnake species native to the U.S.