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AL Press: Snakes still active during wintertime


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Posted by W von Papineäu on December 31, 2002 at 12:23:08:

In Reply to: Re: Herp activity at Joshua Tree in winter posted by regal8499 on December 23, 2002 at 22:18:18:

OK ... who do I thank for the 'set-up'? Cheers, Wes

ALEXANDER CITY OUTLOOK (Alabama) 31 December 02 Snakes still active during wintertime (Larry Cook)
How many times have you heard that snakes hibernate all winter?
I remember my first raccoon hunts with relatives who told me not to worry about rattlesnakes and moccasins after the first heavy frost.
When I started quail hunting with an older friend and witnessed his bird dog point at a couple of rattlesnakes in January, I realized their advice was less than accurate.
While it is true that outdoor enthusiasts are much more likely to encounter snakes in the warmer months, several people are bitten in the southeast during the winter each year.
A winter snake encounter usually occurs when the temperature is abnormally warm for the season and most often occurs from mid-day to early afternoon. While snakes can’t tolerate much sun during hot weather, they will bask in open areas on a warm winter day for short periods.
Another misconception is that a rattlesnake will always “rattle” before it strikes. According to a herpetologist friend, this is not so.
A snake may be sluggish from the cold temperature or caught by surprise and strike without warning. Situations like this happen most often around “edge” areas where forest and open land meet. Fencerows, brush piles and rocky areas deserve special vigilance, also. Dove and quail hunters should be especially careful when reaching into heavy vegetation to retrieve a downed bird.
Most snakes, poisonous or non-poisonous, will make every effort to get out of your way or warn you of its presence. Some non-poisonous snakes can vibrate their tails so fast against leaves or grass that they make a whirring sound.
If one hears this whirring noise or the unmistakable rapid buzz of an eastern diamondback or timber rattler, give the area a wide berth.
When I asked my doctor for his recommendation on the best snakebite kit, he told me it was a reliable car to get you to the emergency room.
He said not all bites from poisonous snakes result in venom being injected. Medical personnel emphasize the need to remain as calm as possible if you are bitten.
A bite from a small copperhead is not as dangerous as one from a large rattler. If a snake has recently eaten, it will have a depleted venom supply. Glancing bites, where the fangs do not make full contact and venom is released outside are quite common and much less serious.
Snakes are a part of natures balance system that keeps rodents and other vermin in check. If we are careful and avoid them, they will usually show us the same courtesy.



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