This week I spent precious time with a glorious feline companion named Sophie. We encountered two snakes, a teenage rattler and something quite slithery and unknown. My search for information and safety let me down many roads and aside from buying a used mongoose on the web, there are a number of action items to consider, ponder, pray upon and inspire:
- Don’t wear open toed sandals when in an area of snake presence. Boots, and even those cool wellingtons (name for high rubber boots in Scotland, will dull the fangs of any self respecting reptile. Did I mention that you need to shake out any b00ts that have been stored in the garage? Meandering reptiles and insects LOVE dark recesses. So don’t put your feet inside without checking first. And don’t reach in with your bare hand. I know this should be obvious, but what the heck.
- Don’t wear a flowing caftan. It looks cool in the patio, but a snake up the skirt can be avoided by wearing jeans. Oh and don’t wear the tight jeans. You are defeating the purpose, sexy and bitten won’t get you much longevity. Again, the fangs of a snake don’t go far into jeans.
- Though a pussy cat LOVES adventure, and anything moving, and I do mean anything, a tight leash is life saving. She will see a reptile before you do and leap to snag it. Predator to predator, the snake could be victor. So unless you have complete eyes in front, back and peripherally,on your head (some aliens do), don’t let her meander into any bush space at all.
- When seeing a snake, grabbing the pussycat and running like hell MAY work, but if the snake is coiled I’d beat it over the head with the golf iron and then run. Wise male friend takes exception to whacking with golf club. He says the snakes strike range is further out than the length of a golf club. So walk back slowly. Do NOT turn back, just back away VERY SLOWLY. Snakes react to quick movement like the rest of us.
- OK, about now, let’s start humming, “We shall overcome”, or playing it on a kazoo. Maybe the snakes are humming it to themselves. After all, they were here first.
- Keeping an imaginative and exploring feline happy is the challenge.More important, keeping her alive is my focus. So we sing, I read to here and we nap. When yowling occurs, I speak quietly about the snake situation and most of the time she quiets down. IF it doesn’t work, take her out front and she will be bored to tears. Her meowing will cease when she has told you that this is NOT her favorite stalking ground.
- I propose a mechanical snake or lizard in the house, run on batteries. But then that may be teaching her the wrong thing or emphasizing the joy of snake and lizard hunting.
- A snake fence is a capital idea. Still, I think snakes can figure that sort of thing out, can’t they burrow? Good Lord, this is starting to sound like a scene from NCIS. By the way, one of my military male friends suggested getting buck shot or something involving a gun and shooting the snake’s head off.Trust me, I will NOT go there for a variety of reasons. And besides, my eyesight and aim would insure that the fence was hit before the reptile.
- Another friend just called in and said:for God’s sake tell themnot to sit on a boulder or rock. That’s where snakes like to hide. Being bitten on the backside is just for starters on this one.
So what I would suggest is the following: Be CAREFUL, Be alert, Dress protectively, stay the heck away from bushes, and BE IN CHARGE. Pussycat will argue with you, but pussycat will remain alive with your guidance.
OK, let’s talk about instructions for what if?
- Vet instructions and map to vet are essential.
- Time of walking should be before 4PM to avoid any emergency taking place when the closest vet is not open
But let’s get down to brass tacks. The animal caregiver needs to stay alive to protect the pussycat.
- A rather important item is listing the nearest ER for the human, in case he/she is bitten. Sure 911, is a fabulous idea, but living in the hills and with the economy cutbacks in California, waiting for Godot will not save anyone’s life. A friend had a situation recently on her property. She knew enough to keep calm and keep her heart above the suspected bite, oh Lord, research that one.
But one thing she said: a 911 team does NOT carry snake bite kit or antivenom kit. You are going to love this one: Her advice was to tell 911 the exact road to take to the place (ER) and say you will them in your car, license plate given and flashing lights as you meet them half way. Now I have to tell you, this is a cool idea, but how many of us are going to be calm enough to do that one.
Another friend suggested a snake bite kit. Allegedly it removes the venom on several occasions. Some articles bash this kit saying that it only removes 2 to 3% of the venom, and not in muscular areas. I, for one, am not going to take any chances and go with the statistics and not buy one at Big 5 or another store that sells them. They are not expensive, and COULD SAVE YOUR, repeat, YOUR life. This option is still up for grabs. I think I’d have one around “in case”, but use it only if physician advised. I returned one I purchased as it was too intricate. There are really simple ones available on line. Another person from Marin told me that you can buy antivenin (or antivenom)but I’d research this a whole lot further with a reliable vet and a physician. Yet another snake advisor recommended snake immunization. This needs far more research.
So there you have it, Short of renting a mongoose on Ebay, it takes a lot of awareness and caution.
p.s. Just got an email, and a tweet, from a Mother Snake. She has reminded me that snakes do a lot of good stuff. She recommended having a picture atlas of harmless snakes like King and Garter who keep the rodent population at bey. folks that have lived in the desert areas take snakes for granted. They are part of the topography and simply need to be respected. A lot of folks say that snakes are shy and will move away, but let’s face it, we need to be prepared when in snake country. I suspect I shall be getting a tweet from a Mother Rat soon enough. Frankly, I am sending out a call for all of us critters, large and small to be AWARE and use common sense and also to be prepared for any emergency. Amen. Kumbaya, and kazoo at rest.