Rattlesnake Warning/Reminder - SE Minnesota

*** Warning/Reminder >>> For those who may not be aware, or for those of you who might need a friendly reminder ... if you go hiking/riding down in SE corner of Minnesota (from Rochester south & east) ... in Forestville, for example ...  be on the lookout for Rattlesnakes.  Rattlesnakes are poisonous, and are deadly (to man & beast), if antivenom is not given ASAP.

IMPORTANT >>> Make sure you have the phone number of the closest 24-hour emergency clinic AND vet service if you are riding, hiking or walking your dog in these areas.

Rare rattlesnake bite in southeastern Minnesota lands Mounds View hiker in hospital
By Dave Orrick - Updated: 07/27/2011 10:23:02 AM CDT

 A hiker remained hospitalized Tuesday after receiving a rare rattlesnake bite while he was hiking in southeastern Minnesota, officials said.

The 28-year-old Mounds View man was in fair condition Tuesday at Gundersen Lutheran Health System in La Crosse, Wis., where he was taken by ambulance Friday after being bitten by a timber rattlesnake in Beaver Creek Valley State Park near Caledonia, known habitat for the venomous snake.

The man, who declined to be interviewed, was recovering from what appears to be an extremely rare event: a timber rattlesnake striking out at a human without provocation.

"Nobody knows what provoked the strike," said Ed Quinn, a wildlife biologist and coordinator of natural resource management for parks and trails with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "It's just really rare for this to happen."

The last known time a timber rattler bit a person in Minnesota was 2000; the last time one bit without provocation was 1996. The last known fatality in Minnesota from a rattlesnake was 1868, Quinn said.
According to Quinn and Houston County Sheriff Doug Ely, the hiker was camping in the park with a group of friends. The group, along with a dog, was hiking Friday on a trail in the northern section of the park, which has signs notifying visitors that the snake is present.

The hikers were on the trail when one of them saw the snake strike from some grass just off the trail. It's unclear whether the dog's presence might have mattered, but Quinn said the eyewitness account was clear: No one stepped on the snake - or was even aware it was there before it struck.

Only one of the snake's two fangs caught the hiker's skin just above his sneaker, but that was enough. He was rushed to the hospital, where antivenin was administered. Without antivenin, a timber rattlesnake's bite can kill person.

Details of the man's reaction, symptoms and any lasting effects from the bite were unavailable. Law enforcement officials in the area said the ankle bite led his leg below the knee to swell up and turn black soon after the attack.

Large but generally shy, timber rattlers - one of two poisonous snakes found in Minnesota - are rarely a threat to people and usually retreat when something large, such as a person, approaches, according to Quinn and several herpetology organizations' websites.

Still, Quinn acknowledged that news of the snakebite and its severity might give people pause to hike in the timber rattler's domain, which is generally restricted to the southeastern counties of Houston, Fillmore, Winona and Wabasha.

He recommended hikers stay on paths, watch where they're stepping and consider wearing {thick leather} boots. "Had he had boots on this might not have penetrated the flesh," Quinn said, emphasizing that he doesn't think anyone in the group did anything reckless.
While once common as far north as Washington County, the timber rattler was hunted vigorously, with bounties paid for dead ones as recently as 1989. The animal is currently listed by the state as threatened, and hunting and vandalism of their dens - also once common - aren't allowed.
The region's only other poisonous snake - the endangered Massasauga rattlesnake - is smaller and is rarely encountered.


To avoid snakes . . .

- Keep your dog on a leash
- Stay on the trail or path
- Don’t let your dogs dig in holes
- Keep your dogs away from piles of debris, logs and rock piles
- Be careful around the banks of ponds, creeks and streams

It is not always easy to keep your dog on a leash and out of trouble, especially when your dog has a ton of energy and wants to go explore, but a leash may save your dogs life.  Especially if you are in a remote area far from emergency services.

Snakes typically find shade on sunny days and come out at dusk when the temperatures are cooler and when their prey is most active.  Rattlesnakes tend to be more active in the spring when they first come out of hibernation and in the late summer, early fall when they breed.


*** FYI - If you are bitten by a rattler, remain calm ... call 911 or get to the hospital ASAP... Mayo Clinic Snake Bites Phone Number: 507-255-5591
Obtaining fast medical attention is crucial to surviving a bite from a poisonous snake. Here are some key tips:
  • Wash the bite with soap and water.
  • Immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than the heart.
  • Cover the area with a clean, cool compress or a moist dressing to minimize swelling and discomfort.
  • If a victim is unable to reach medical care within 30 minutes, the American Red Cross recommends:
  • Apply a bandage, wrapped two to four inches above the bite, to help slow the venom. This should not cut off the flow of blood from a vein or artery - the band should be loose enough to slip a finger under it.
A suction device can be placed over the bite to help draw venom out of the wound without making cuts. These devices are often included in commercial snake bite kits.

Most often, physicians use antivenin -- an antidote to snake venom -- to treat serious snake bites. Antivenin is derived from antibodies created in a horse's blood serum when the animal is injected with snake venom. Because antivenin is obtained from horses, snake bite victims sensitive to horse products must be carefully managed.

*** If your Dog or Horse are bitten by a Rattler ...
  • REMAIN CALM (you & your horse/dog) ... keep your pet quiet & calm ... move him as little as possible.
  • Call the local Vet ASAP ... Make sure you have the phone number of the closest 24-hour emergency vet service if you are riding, hiking or walking in these areas.
  • Clean the wound with an antibacterial solution, or soap & water.
  • Do not put ice on the wound as it will damage the tissue around the bite area.
  • Loosen or remove the dog's collar. If the bite is the head or neck area, the extreme swelling (which occurs quickly) could cause strangulation from the collar.
  • Encourage your doggie to drink water.
  • If a vet can get to him quicker where he is, stay there. If you are riding/hiking "out-in-the-wild", carry your dog (and get-off & very slowly walk your horse) back to the car/trailer or nearest place where he can get help.
  • If it seems like your pet is going into shock, keep them warm ... dogs can go into shock within minutes of a rattlesnake bite. 
  • Just remember to remain CALM, and get to a Vet as-soon-as-possible


date Wednesday, July 27, 2011

1 comments to “Rattlesnake Warning/Reminder - SE Minnesota”

  1. Jans Funny Farm
    July 30, 2011 at 7:35 AM

    Very informative post. And scary!

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