Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rattlesnake Reflections

The way to stay safe when you are in Rattlesnake territory is to go looking for them. For one thing you will be looking where they are likely to be so you won’t be caught off guard. Secondly, you will probably be prepared for the encounter with appropriate clothing and sticks and such. Finally, you will activate Murphy’s Law and ensure that you never see a single snake.
 
Rattlesnakes are not interested in biting anyone anyway. That is why they have the rattle on their tail. When you get too close for their comfort, they let you know to back off by shaking their tail. True, some people are bit without warning. They step too close too quickly and scare the poor snake into a reflexive act based purely on fear. There is no malice. Often these “warning bites” involve no poison whatsoever. Nine times out of ten if you read stories of Rattlesnake bites carefully you will see one thing every time—alcohol.
 
The exception to both of the previous paragraphs can be found in Sweetwater, Texas. When people go out looking to find Rattlers there, they find them—by the thousands. And these snakes want to bite. They must know that they are about to be killed. The first first-hand experience this writer finally had with a Rattler in the wild after years of fruitless searching was thankfully on a cold, 40 degree Saturday morning near Sweetwater.  The real discovery was that you can place your hand within inches of a Rattlesnake multiple times and not see it. The good thing is that a Rattlesnake too cold to rattle was at least in that case too cold to bite too.

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