August 20, 2011

Radio-tagging Rattlesnakes

Once piece of folklore that I heard repeatedly after my rattlesnake bite five years ago was that baby rattlesnakes were more dangerous than adults. This researcher says otherwise.
Katie Colbert, a naturalist at Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness, has often heard people warn that a baby rattlesnake is a greater threat due to the fact that they're unable to control the amount of poison they inject into their victim when they bite. According to Colbert, this is just not true: all rattlesnakes, babies and adults, can control their venom. In addition, Colbert says, "Baby rattlesnakes can only produce and stash a very small fraction of [venom] an adult can." This does not change the fact, however, that a bite from any rattlesnake, regardless of age, is a dangerous bite and requires medical attention.
Watch for the rattlesnake living in the wall of the visitor center. I don't expect that they tell all the little kids about that one.


Anonymous said...

Great article. I am not a fan of rattlers, coming across them all to often on the ranch in Colorado, but I do respect them, and the work of individuals like this lady.

Holly Heyser said...

Very interesting. My family's rule has always been to leave rattlers alone unless they're hanging out close to home, in which case they die. I think the fact that we know rattlers become very attached to a place suggests that this might be a good policy - I don't want a rattler getting used to hanging out on my mom's porch.

But I'd vastly prefer to just watch them and let them go by.