Snake Bit

Sade with Dale and Kerri /Photograph by Kevin Pieper for Mother Earth News

 

I have a new theory: All I have to do to ensure one of our Six Pack gets hurt is start a big project.

Tuesday, I was rotating the closet from winter to summer clothes. It was unbearably hot that day; we hit record highs in the 90s, just two days after hitting record lows.

I heard Dale pull into the drive and Sade run off of the deck to greet him. She loves lying in the sun on the deck. About 5 minutes later, he called for me to come outside.

I climbed over the mountain of clothes ready to be packed away and found him standing with a shovel over a snake.

The baby copperhead Dale killed was like this one, with a yellow tip on its tail

 

“I think this copperhead bit Sade,” he said. “She can hardly walk.” She was lying back on the deck and refused to get up and come to me.

The snake was cut into 3 pieces thanks to Dale and the shovel, but like a horror movie, its head was still striking as best it could at the tip of the shovel. We could even hear its teeth hitting the steel. Creepy.

Dale explained he saw Sade leap off of the deck and then start limping on her way up the drive. She came back to the porch and did the wide circling she does when she sees a snake.

I knew exactly what he was talking about. I witnessed her wide circling for the first time this season earlier that day on our walk when she saw a black snake stretched across the road.

I called the vet, who of course recommended we bring Sade in for a shot of Benadryl and some pain killers.

Although at first we thought it was a copperhead, we couldn’t be sure if it was a young rattler, since its tail looked as if it was trying maybe to grow a rattle.

PetMD recommends a vet visit whenever any venomous snake bites, and I knew that rattlers are especially dangerous, so off to the vet we drove, again. Abbi, as you recall, was hit by a car last month, costing us our second highest vet bill ever paid.

When Chloe got bit by something, we gave her Benadryl and watched her closely, but I didn’t want to chance a rattlesnake bite with Sade.

Although her foot swelled up gigantic by the time we reached the vet’s office (we called her “Pig Foot” for a couple of days because her toes swelled so badly that they looked like hooves instead of dog paws), she is going to be fine. She got a shot, some topical numbing ointment and a week’s worth of antibiotics to head off an abscess where the bite was located.

Dale had put the pieces of the snake in the back of the truck, and the vet identified it as a baby copperhead, which looks somewhat like a rattlesnake when young.

We probably could have given her Benadryl at home and waited it out and not spent the money, but it is so hard to know when a vet visit is needed.

Have you or one of your pets ever been bitten by a venomous snake?      

You may also like...

20 Responses

  1. Lucio Cheas says:

    Just tested this thing out, it’s downloading the codes. You are amazing dude nice one.

  2. Jane Boursaw says:

    Yikes – snakes! Thank goodness we mostly just see harmless garter snakes around these parts – and not many of those anymore.

    • Kerri says:

      I haven’t done any research as to why some areas of the U.S. has venomous snakes and others don’t. That could be a story.

  3. Terri Alice says:

    Here in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada we have Rattlesnakes. Our Lab Millie was bit four years ago on the head. The snake was curled up on our back step, in the fenced courtyard. Off to the vet for anti-venin and she was fine the next day. I caught and relocated the snake to an areas still within its range but away from the house and yard.
    We have a very large resident Rattler that we see every summer, along with small ones. We are very cautious with the dogs during snake season (April-Oct). Stressful!

  4. Terri Alice says:

    Here in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada we have Rattlesnakes. Our Lab Millie was bit four years ago on the head. The snake was curled up on our back step, in the fenced courtyard. Off to the vet for anti-venin and she was fine the next day. I caught and relocated the snake to an areas still within its range but away from the house and yard.
    We have a very large resident Rattler that we see every summer, along with small ones. We are very cautious with the dogs during snake season (April-Oct). Stressful!

    • Kerri says:

      I know it is stressful, Terri. Glad your dog is ok. Our vet was telling us horror stories about rattlesnake bites. 🙁 Good for you for relocating. We don’t have that much confidence in our ability to do it without getting hurt. We leave them alone – we even waited for a cottonmouth to swim across a flooded road once – as long as they stay away from our house and the dogs.

    • Ralph Sly says:

      I love your attitude about sparing the wildlife and the responses to it. I had two bears living in my back yard, (a down town city lot) half a mile from millions and millions of wild BC mountain acres. And they live on my small piece of the city. Last fall while sleeping in the RV here, the police had to shoot one in front of my RV because it was wandering the streets. The locals here are now getting upset because the reported number of shooting is too outrages to believe let alone repeat. Good for you relocating the snakes and tolerating what you know is in the land you chose to co-operate with and the others for avoidance rather eradicating them. This building has been left vacant for many years and I only just realized I have dead fall fruit from trees on the land which is probably attracting the wild life. The immediate consideration that my ignorance re the trees could have caused this is a bother to me and the trees are coming down this year. I don’t know if it will help and nothing will ease my guilt but we will see. Hats off to you compassionate people. I don’t have a problem with Dales actions, that was immediate and responsive to the dogs actions but too bad it had to end that way for the snake.

      • Kerri says:

        I agree, Ralph. I’m sorry anything has to die, but we cannot allow the poisonous snakes around the house to live and bite another day.

  5. Good lord, how scary. I would have hotfooted it to the vet, too.

    • Kerri says:

      LOL, I don’t know if you meant the pun, hotfooted, but I think Sade’s foot was feeling pretty hot! 😉

  6. Sue says:

    Here in Texas it seems like we have millions of venomous snakes! Ugh! Earlier in the Spring one of the San Angelo television stations had a story on a place that trains your dogs to leave rattlesnakes alone. They use a live snake with the venom glands removed; it coils and rattles still. When the dog approaches the snake they give him/her a little electric shock with a cattle prod type stick. So the dog associates unpleasantness and pain with the snake. Costs $40 for the training.
    But snakes are so hard to see sometimes. And copperheads and rattlesnakes just blend in with their environment. Until they move them are almost invisible.

    • Kerri says:

      Ugh, Sue, that training is horrifying. I don’t like any kind of negative reinforcement (and electric shock is negative) being used on dogs when it’s been proven that positive reinforcement works just as well. That’s the reason we will not put up an electric fence. We’ve been able to train Abbi to stay away from the cars without hurting her. Two passed by us this morning and she did not even start to chase. No electric shock needed. I’ve never had a dog that wants to play with snakes, so I guess that’s a good thing. However, my aunt’s dog will toss them in the air, rattlesnake or no. I know training is needed on some dogs, I just think there are better ways.

  7. Alexandra says:

    Snakes really scare me. Fortunately we do not have any poisonous ones in our region. It has been dry for a long time now and the snakes come out of the woods during a dry spell, looking for water.

  8. ChristineGL says:

    Oh wow! What a story. That is chilling about how it kept moving. I’m sorry about Sade, but so glad she is OK.

  9. I’m glad you went to the vet to be sure. This is so scary. We don’t have poisonous snakes here, but my parents just bought a house in FL and I am worried about their dogs there. Is there snake repellant or any way to keep them away?

    • Kerri says:

      I’m just starting to research that now, Brette. The problem with repellant for us, is I’m wondering if it will keep the “good” snakes away as well. The black snakes here eat the poisonous snakes, as well as the wood rats, so we would like for them to stick around. I’ve read that Liquid Fence is a good method. We’ve already cleaned up the leaves and rocks from around the deck. Next, we have to take out some low to the ground bushes on the side of the house where they may be hiding, but that probably won’t be until fall.

  10. Olivia says:

    Oh my – poor Sade. Glad she is OK.

    I am fortunate to live in a place where nothing poisonous exists. We have garter snakes and the normal insects but, unless one is allergic to bees or wasps then one is safe. That is why I am willing to put up with the cold and blizzards!

    I remember, though, many years ago when DH and I were young and travelling to Mexico in a VW bus (hippies, you know) and we stopped at a doctor’s office in Texas to get some snake bite anti venom “just in case”. The doctor’s office was crowded but when we said we were looking for the meds the receptionist took off and a couple of seconds later the doctor came flying out into the waiting room yelling, “Who has been bitten by the snake?” When we explained why we were there . . . we hadn’t yet been bitten but we might be (!) . . . the doctor said he wouldn’t give us the serum because it would probably kill us faster than the snakebite . . . I’m not sure what he meant but anyway, we did not get bitten by any snakes. Well what did we know . . . we were very young and had never seen a poisonous snake or bug in our lives anyway. I hope I never do.

    • Kerri says:

      LOL, that’s a funny story, Olivia! I bet it was a great time, I’ve always wanted to own a VW bus, my husband and I were just talking about that last weekend. I would buy a completely restored bus if we won the lottery. 🙂 You’re lucky there are no venomous snakes there. I wish we didn’t have any.