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Thread: Help me understand snakes a bit better, especially the mean ones

  1. #1

    Help me understand snakes a bit better, especially the mean ones

    So we've just bought a lot in southwest austin. Developed area, but big lots - 1.12 acres. Typical wooded texas hill country lot - scrub cedar, a few oaks, lots of rocks and rock shelves. Basically, snake heaven. I'm not a panic-on-sight-of-slither kind of guy, but with two cats, a dog, a son and a wife, I'm not real interested in dueling with rattlers, either.

    How can I educate myself on potential snake dangers? How do I quickly identify potential habitats? How can I lessen my danger when working in the yard? What else should I know? For example, we're going to clear a bunch of cedar ourselves, so I'd rather not get bit on my first day on my own lot. But after that, we want to save the cedars to mulch them for ground cover, but I have to think that a pile of trees in the back forty would be the Ritz Carlton for snakes. Right?

    I'm googling a bunch and talking to a lot of people, so don't give me the LMGTFY response :). I know we've got some outdoor-lovin' mother $#@!ers on here, as well as a solid herpetological society, so I thought I'd ask you $#@!s for advice, too.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    First off, wear good leather working gloves and buy some snake proof rubber boots. That will give you confidence when you're grabbing stuff, moving rocks, etc.

    Second, use common sense. Before you move a big rock, look around for any holes under the sides. Then, when you move it, do it quickly and step back. There were more than likely be scorpions or spiders than snakes. I used to live out near Dripping Springs, and scorpions were a much bigger problem.

    In general, don't be afraid of rattlers. Unless you step on one directly, they won't really hurt you. Also, their strike distance is very short like 1/3 of their body length. Even for a big 4 footer, that's only 12-18" of strike distance. So unless you get right up to him, you'll be fine. If they're out in tall grass you'll probably hear them before you see them.

    Now, your cats and dog will be a bigger problem. If you can, get your dog snake proofed/trained. Last thing you want is a curious dog getting bit repeatedly if he comes across a rattle bug.

    Tree piles are snake havens. So are big rocks/boulders. Anything that provides shade and is cool when it's 100 degrees outside.

    Finally, remember snakes are cold blooded. They prefer warm temps and in the winter/spring time they are far underground in their den nice and warm.

    Oh, also try to cut down on mice. They attract snakes of all kinds. Maybe your cat can help with that. But, in general, try to keep the rodent population down and you'll keep the snakes out. They tend to go where the food is.

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    What ousuxndallas said, especially the boots and gloves. And wear long pants (jeans).

    When you're moving stuff, a hoe (not a "ho") is your best friend.

    Use it to pull stuff off a pile, lift rocks, or whatever.

    Rattlers will generally go into "defensive" mode - aka coil up, start rattling, and look pissed. And WILL strike at you if they get a chance. This generally only happens when you surprise them. If you're noisy enough when you start unpiling stuff, they'll try to leave. They will also just leave if you back off when you do uncover one unexpectedly.

    And while you don't want to kill every snake you see, a hoe will make quick work of any you piss off and/or aren't sure of. Just don't get all panicky.

    And learn which ones are the "good ones". Go on line and get familiar with what the local types look like.

    Personally, if possible, I would chip all your trees as you cut them down. Slower, but snakes generally won't climb into a pile pf cedar chips. Rats/mice might though, thinking you've made them a nice place to nest in...
    Last edited by jmatt; 04-30-2012 at 11:40 PM.

  4. #4
    Do not jerk off near large rocks and woodpiles....good advice needs heeding.,,

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    How does one go about training a dog to stay away from rattlers? I mean, what's the actual process?

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    Are a good pair of leather boots (Frye) solid enough against a rattler, or do I need to invest in "snake-proof" boots?

    Chipping of any trees we cut down is the plan. Even though it is slower, that's what we want to do with that material anyway.

    Thankfully, there aren't too many rock piles that we'll be moving, at least by ourselves. Once the foundation excavation starts, that's a different story.

    I'm also going to find a snake exhibit or something. Does the "Snake Farm" on I35 near San Marcos do education tours? :) I"ve always wondered what was going on in that place.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Foosters Galore View Post
    How does one go about training a dog to stay away from rattlers? I mean, what's the actual process?
    I was talking with my dad the other day at the lot, and he said "do you know why we always had dogs growing up? Because of the snakes ... if the dog gets hit and dies, that's sad but oh well. I just didn't want you to get hit."

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    And while you don't want to kill every snake you see
    i was with you up to this point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ousuxndallas View Post
    First off, wear good leather working gloves and buy some snake proof rubber boots. That will give you confidence when you're grabbing stuff, moving rocks, etc.

    Second, use common sense. Before you move a big rock, look around for any holes under the sides. Then, when you move it, do it quickly and step back. There were more than likely be scorpions or spiders than snakes. I used to live out near Dripping Springs, and scorpions were a much bigger problem.

    In general, don't be afraid of rattlers. Unless you step on one directly, they won't really hurt you. Also, their strike distance is very short like 1/3 of their body length. Even for a big 4 footer, that's only 12-18" of strike distance. So unless you get right up to him, you'll be fine. If they're out in tall grass you'll probably hear them before you see them.

    Now, your cats and dog will be a bigger problem. If you can, get your dog snake proofed/trained. Last thing you want is a curious dog getting bit repeatedly if he comes across a rattle bug.

    Tree piles are snake havens. So are big rocks/boulders. Anything that provides shade and is cool when it's 100 degrees outside.

    Finally, remember snakes are cold blooded. They prefer warm temps and in the winter/spring time they are far underground in their den nice and warm.

    Oh, also try to cut down on mice. They attract snakes of all kinds. Maybe your cat can help with that. But, in general, try to keep the rodent population down and you'll keep the snakes out. They tend to go where the food is.
    This is great advice. Give them nothing to eat and they'll leave. It will work better than trying to kill them all. I'd try to kill them all too, though. But that's just me and I need a new belt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Foosters Galore View Post
    How does one go about training a dog to stay away from rattlers? I mean, what's the actual process?
    They use a live rattler (or rattlers) or some other kind of snake and they put a shock collar on the dog cranked up to max output. When the dog shows curiosity towards the snake, they zap the living $#@! out of the dog. It usually take 2-3 tries before the dog gets it. It is common to have it done annually.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Simon - S&S PI, Inc View Post
    They use a live rattler (or rattlers) or some other kind of snake and they put a shock collar on the dog cranked up to max output. When the dog shows curiosity towards the snake, they zap the living $#@! out of the dog. It usually take 2-3 tries before the dog gets it. It is common to have it done annually.
    <kidding> Can I get this done to my son? </kidding>

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    Quote Originally Posted by capnamerca View Post
    <kidding> Can I get this done to my son? </kidding>
    Just show him some pics and vids of actual rattlesnake bites. That should do him.

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    The Texas Memorial Museum on campus has, or used to have, a good display on snakes.

    Honestly, just go on line, I'm guessing someplace like TP&W will have some good stuff on snakes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Simon - S&S PI, Inc View Post
    They use a live rattler (or rattlers) or some other kind of snake and they put a shock collar on the dog cranked up to max output. When the dog shows curiosity towards the snake, they zap the living $#@! out of the dog. It usually take 2-3 tries before the dog gets it. It is common to have it done annually.
    I've never had a dog that needed to be trained to stay away from a snake, but the one I have now...I think she'll get bit the first time I go out to the ranch. Any idea if this will keep them away from all snakes? Or just the particular snakes you introduce them to in the training? I guess the real question is, Do all snakes smell about the same or would I need to introduce the dog to all local, venomous species?

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    That snake farm off 35 near New braunfels is also a brothel. Code word is "salami, salami, bologna".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Texaus View Post
    That snake farm off 35 near New braunfels is also a brothel. Code word is "salami, salami, bologna".
    Is this confirmed? I always heard that about that place, but never knew for sure

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Simon - S&S PI, Inc View Post
    They use a live rattler (or rattlers) or some other kind of snake and they put a shock collar on the dog cranked up to max output. When the dog shows curiosity towards the snake, they zap the living $#@! out of the dog. It usually take 2-3 tries before the dog gets it. It is common to have it done annually.
    Harlen Winter does this a coupla times a year. He trained both my labs, and snake trained both of them.

    The ONE time we came across a rattler hunting with my old chocolate lab, I looked up and she was 50 feet away, looking back at me over her shoulder as if to say "dude, you should GTFO of there -- there's a $#@!ing rattlesnake in there." In short, it works -- so long as they are in a position to hear or smell the snake before the strike. Nothing's perfect, but I definitely recommend the snake proofing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Texaus View Post
    That snake farm off 35 near New braunfels is also a brothel. Code word is "salami, salami, bologna".
    This very well may deserve its own thread...

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    $#@! snakes.

    You're welcome.

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  21. #21
    I live in the same area of town on 6 acres, with 2 young kids, dog, and 2 cats.

    We have done the tree clearing/construction thing to no end.

    Go by the Natural Gardener (you will be going there a lot) they have a laminated brochure on Snakes (for purchase) very informative.

    Cats are great, keep the rat.mouse population down, as do dogs. Cats can also kick the ass of any snake we have in central Texas, if they want to.

    I have lived out there for 14 years and have yet to see a rattler.

    Copperhead and Coral are the only poisonous ones I have seen. Corals are not really a problem unless you have little kids.

    Bull, Rat, Garter, and those little lime green ones are the others.

    Bulls will make a lot of noise and are often confused with rattlesnakes-leave them alone, they are your friend.

    Do not confront a rattlesnake, unless you are 12 and throw rocks at it.

    My dog could use some snake training, the other day she walked right over a 3' garter snake sunning itself on the pea gravel.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Simon - S&S PI, Inc View Post
    They use a live rattler (or rattlers) or some other kind of snake and they put a shock collar on the dog cranked up to max output. When the dog shows curiosity towards the snake, they zap the living $#@! out of the dog. It usually take 2-3 tries before the dog gets it. It is common to have it done annually.
    This guy came to DFW last year. Very good. He had rattlers and a cottonmouth as well.

    http://www.snakebreaker.com/

    If you're really worried, you can also get your pup the snake vaccine annually from your vet.

    Oh, last thing: we have a rat terrier that's a snake killing machine; maybe get one of those! He also makes short work of mice/rodents so that helps keep the snakes away. He's never come across a rattler, but I'd like to see that dual. He's quick as a whip and waits for the right opportunity then grabs the snake behind his head, shakes him furiously and kills the snake. He's done in many garden snakes and a bull snake. They say rat terriers are good at killing copperheads as well, but mine has never run across one.

  23. #23
    O hai, fawn!


  24. #24
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    If you run across a snake during mating season, don't forget that another one is probably around.

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