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#244986 - 04/18/12 02:19 PM Rattle Snakes?
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3599
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Ok fellow ETSers, I need your help. My son and I are going backpacking for a week in Ontario's Georgian Bay rattle snake territory this summer. Snakes are not part of my experience so I'm looking for your guidance.

Here's what I know so far:
http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/on/georg/natcul/natcul2.aspx

-watch where you are walking and where you put your hands and feet
-give them a wide birth
-wear boots and long pants

Any sage advice to share on how to prevent a bad memory? It's black bear territory too so we'll be taking all the standard precautions for them. Should I just be thinking of snakes in the same way I take care against the big bruins?
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#244988 - 04/18/12 02:41 PM Re: Rattle Snakes? [Re: bacpacjac]
bws48 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/18/07
Posts: 830
Loc: Anne Arundel County, Maryland
Just a couple of quick thoughts, FWIW;

First, from the link it sounds like there are several local snakes that could be mistaken for each other. I'd suggest treating all as if they are a rattler.

Second, I've been told they will slither away from noise/vibration etc. if they have a chance, and will strike if surprised or cornered. This is where a good walking stick might prove valuable. Use it to poke around in any place a snake might be or where you don't have a good view of what is there, especially before you stick your hand in or reach to pick something up. Helps give the snake warning and helps you keep your distance.
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#244989 - 04/18/12 02:49 PM Re: Rattle Snakes? [Re: bacpacjac]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3599
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Thanks BWS! I'm with you about treating all snakes we see like rattlers. Any differentiation can come when we're home looking at the pictures.

Walking sticks are a great idea too. We usually just grab downed branches but I wonder if a steel tipped pole might be a better defense? We don't want to hurt them and are expecting most of them to slither away from us as long as we give them the chance.
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#244990 - 04/18/12 02:58 PM Re: Rattle Snakes? [Re: bacpacjac]
Tyber Offline
Sheriff
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/27/09
Posts: 292
Loc: ST. Paul MN
I would agree with BWS and I would suggest bear bells. While they will do the whole Bear thing, they may make you loud enough to keep the snakes away.

I am not sure if you’re up for it but I would personally buy some snake proof chaps, pants or boots.

But much like you I have to admit to not having much experience with snakes. I actually have a total phobia of them. My joke is that I do fur, feather and fins, but not scales and slithers.

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#244991 - 04/18/12 03:26 PM Re: Rattle Snakes? [Re: bacpacjac]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3599
Loc: Ontario, Canada
LOL@Tyber. Sounds like we're cut from the same cloth. I wouldn't say I'd scared, but definitely have a healthy dose of caution. We're going with a group of Scouts and are going to have a bear and snake education session for everyone before we leave. Our other leaders have been before but I'm a rookie this trip.

Bear bells are permanently attached to our packs to warn bears and coyotes. I'm going to look at snake boots for sure, possibly something more like snake proof pants.

What about sleeping? Anything other than the obvious zip 'em up tight?
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#244993 - 04/18/12 03:46 PM Re: Rattle Snakes? [Re: bacpacjac]
Nomad Offline
Addict

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 464
Loc: Just wandering around.
I live part of the year in the desert of Southern Arizona. Big time snake country.

Walking stick is a must have item. Probe anywhere you can not see clearly. Snakes can be very hard to see.

Don't pick up anything without first nudging it with your stick. I have seen snakes along side of rocks etc that were invisible until I moved the rock.

Snakes can only strike about 3/4 the length of their body. If you are beyond that distance you are safe to retreat. If closer, keep the stick between you and the snake so you can bat it off to the side if it strikes, but do not get the stick near the snake. The strike will be very fast, but you will probably hit the body and deflect the head. Move away quickly. 5' or so will suffice.


They use heat to image their prey more than eyesight. They will not fix on the stick like a cobra fixes on the flute of the snake charmer.

They really don't want to have anything to do with you. If one blocks your path, WAIT until it moves which could be several hours. Do not try to hurry it along. Go around it if possible, keeping at least 10 feet away if possible. At that distance you are probably not going to be a threat.

If you plan to stop for a few minutes in an area, first "sweep" it for about 20' in all directions. Your toe sticking around the edge of a rock has a similar heat signature to a small rodent.

I don't like them but they are a fact of life here. Our community has frequent encounters with them. They are dangerous, but usually they just want to be left alone. After the first few encounters the fear will subside a bit. Don't get complacent.

Nomad.
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#244997 - 04/18/12 04:12 PM Re: Rattle Snakes? [Re: bacpacjac]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3599
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Thanks so much Nomad! Excellent point about not relying on what we can see. Walking with heavy feet and using a walking stick to check for snakes is great advice.
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#244998 - 04/18/12 04:14 PM Re: Rattle Snakes? [Re: Nomad]
wileycoyote Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 03/01/11
Posts: 273
Loc: eastern oregon
i live and work in rattler country. some as long as 5 feet (they grow them even bigger in places like texas). 25 years of seeing them often and i've never run into a problem. (fyi - we don't wear special gear of any sort)

suggestions:

watch where you step.

step up onto logs, then step over in big steps (don't just step directly over the log as they may be under it and within striking distance of a leg if frightened).

don't reach under ledges/logs/rocks/decks/etc without first checking the area.

don't climb steep hills hand-over-hand, as its easy to find yourself eye-to-eye with one.

don't expect all rattlers to rattle. they often don't or can't.

leave them alone, just walk around them.

but if you do have to kill one, don't handle it after wards. very dead ones, or even fully cut-off heads, can & do bite.

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#244999 - 04/18/12 04:16 PM Re: Rattle Snakes? [Re: bacpacjac]
CANOEDOGS Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 1828
Loc: MINNESOTA

our family had a cottage up that way,Bruce Peninsula,and i was up there since i was a toddler in the 40's.never saw or heard of any sort of rattler doing any harm.i hiked around up there until the late 60',same thing.

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#245001 - 04/18/12 04:31 PM Re: Rattle Snakes? [Re: CANOEDOGS]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3599
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: CANOEDOGS

our family had a cottage up that way,Bruce Peninsula,and i was up there since i was a toddler in the 40's.never saw or heard of any sort of rattler doing any harm.i hiked around up there until the late 60',same thing.


All the documentation and stories we've heard leave me thinking that it's going to be AOK. We're travelling with experienced people, with strict rules and guidelines. I guess I just need to be a diligent Scouter and put Mama Bear in the back of my mind. wink
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