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rosefolly

Exciting times in the garden

Rosefolly
last month

I was out in the back garden watering (native plants; the roses are in the front and along the fence). When I was all done I went to wind up the garden hose. Sitting under the faucet was a baby rattlesnake. I looked carefully to be sure it really was a rattler, not a beneficial gopher snake. Wide cheeks, tiny rattles at the end of his tail. Yup. Now he was doing me no harm, minding his own business, but he would grow up to get big and one day he could well bite one of us or one of the dogs. I almost lost a dog to rattlesnake bite a few years back. So I went to get the shovel and I chopped him into pieces. I'm still trembling with adrenline backlash. I don't think I'd had have the nerve to attack a big snake, or maybe I'm smart enough to leave one alone. I hope and pray I never have the choice to make.

And people think gardening is such tame activity!


Comments (40)

  • Kristine LeGault 8a pnw
    last month

    Holy moly !! You are so brave to get up close and personal and do the deed. Yikkes! You are right, he would be a big poisonous snake before long.

    Watch for his mom and siblings


    Rosefolly thanked Kristine LeGault 8a pnw
  • roseseek
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Watch the head! It can remain dangerous for a very long time after it's severed. If you're going to bury it, it needs to be VERY deep and where you are unlikely to ever dig it up accidentally. If it goes in the trash, it should be safely enclosed in something unlikely to be opened or handled at a processing facility or anyone rummaging through the trash. Thank God my days of gardenng that intimately with "wild life" are finished! I'm glad you noticed him while you were still able to deal with him safely. Scary!

    Rosefolly thanked roseseek
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  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
    last month

    Living on the wild side, I see. I don't like the idea of chopping any animal to pieces, but I think you were right to do so, and brave to carry out the deed. Regards.

    Rosefolly thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • Rosefolly
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Huh! I knew not to touch it, and I didn't think putting it in the garbage would be smart. I picked it up with a shovel and threw it over the bank of the road. I figured nature would dispose of it neatly. Maybe it is what lawyers call an attractive nuisance. I think I had better go back and at least get it underground where no child (or childish adult) would see it and pick it up. Thanks, Roseseek.


  • Rosefolly
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Coming back later to say that the deed is done.

    I dug a hole out in the field under an old gopher mound. If a gopher comes along and finds it, well, that is nature at work. Gophers are part of a rattlesnake's natural prey.

  • berrypiez6b
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Wow Rosefolly, you sure took care of him !

    Kristine is right, you will have to expect where there's one, there could be more.

    Roseseek, that's vital info about the creepy head I need to tell my son.

    I got a vicious poisonous spider bite when I cleaned my tool shed. At the end of Summer it needs organizing again, I have to muster up some courage to do it. This time I'll be on the alert.

    Knowing there is danger all around kind of takes the peaceful relaxation out of gardening, but I'd still rather live dangerously than have it all done with a pre-made hanging basket from the store.

    Things could change my mind.

    Rosefolly thanked berrypiez6b
  • roseseek
    last month

    Rather gruesome but something to be aware of. https://www.texasmonthly.com/the-culture/rattlesnake-head-bite/

    Rosefolly thanked roseseek
  • Moses, Pittsburgh, W. PA., zone 5/6, USA
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Rosefolly,

    i would have done the same thing. Hope that's a once in a lifetime event for you.

    Moses

  • jacqueline9CA
    last month

    Good grief! We have an occasional jack rabbit, or fox, lots of squirrels, zillions of birds, an occasional possum, and of course raccoons when the fruit is ripe, but I have never seen a snake of any kind in our garden. We now have coyotes in the neighborhood, and I have heard them, but never seen any. (This is all in an old residential neighborhood which is only 4 blocks from the downtown of our town - not rural at all). I grew up around here, and of course was warned from my earliest memory about rattle snakes and black widow spiders, which I think are the most common poisonous critters here. You did exactly right getting rid of that baby one. Moses, so sorry about your accident with the bunny - raccoons are indeed predators of more than fruit, and can injure dogs which are foolish enough to go after them very badly.


    Jackie

    Rosefolly thanked jacqueline9CA
  • Rosefolly
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Moses, that truly is a sad story.

    I also hope I never have to deal with a rattlesnake again. Apparently they are sociable but not territorial. If we are lucky that snake's family makes its home somewhere else.

    At an earlier occasion when we saw another rattlesnake here, we called an animal control company. The snake had moved off by the time they arrived, but they left a sticky trap to catch it if it came back. It did not, but unfortunately a mouse entered the trap, and even more unfortunately, it was so dark inside the trap that I could not see it. I still feel bad about that, and have never used any kind of sticky trap since that time.

    We have all kinds of wildlife here, even mountain lions. I have heard but never actually seen one, and I hope I never do. An eight foot fence and two dogs plus a wide assortment of prey outside the fence that is easier to catch has kept them from challenging the fence.

  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    last month
    last modified: last month

    That is a horrible story Moses, I'm sorry you had that experience. No good deed goes unpunished, here you were trying to treat the rabbit humanely instead of killing it in some way and that happens.

    We never used to have rabbits or chipmunks etc. and in the past few years we have had an explosion of them. And I garden in a semi urban setting too, on a small 1/4 acre lot. This year I've had 4 generations of rabbits in the yard and I just gave up trying to prevent them from eating my garden. I don't understand it because there is a population of coyotes nearby and last year, rabbits were disappearing pretty fast as the season went on.

    I have decided that if I end up with the opportunity to turn my attention to the problem this winter, I'm going to get serious and try my best to figure out a better solution for next year. We have a fenced in yard, but they dig under it and I have not wanted to attempt to fix that, it's overwhelming, but, I think the time has come to do something to keep them out. I don't want to kill anything either.

    Rosefolly thanked prairiemoon2 z6b MA
  • rosecanadian
    last month

    Wow! Raccoons, snakes, spiders, ravenous rabbits...not for the faint hearted. :)



  • susan9santabarbara
    last month

    When I started teaching in 1987, our school (built in 1924) had a colony of feral cats that made their home in the basement. They were fed every morning by a local resident. (Side note, if you're a mystery fan, it was Sue Grafton). I taught a 7 am class, and I saw Sue and her friend every morning when I arrived at 6:30 am. One year, the school decided to trap all of them. They did, and then we had an explosion of rats like you can't imagine. The rats fell through the ceiling tiles onto classes in progress, ate and chewed on everything you can imagine overnight. One of my worst memories was when they'd put out the sticky traps, and I'd walk into my lab on a Monday morning... grim. Rosefolly's quick method of dispatch is much more humane.

    Rosefolly thanked susan9santabarbara
  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
    last month

    I was already aware that our nature locally is generally relatively benign, and all these anecdotes make me glad that's the case!

    Rosefolly thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • rosecanadian
    last month

    Susan - oh, blech. That would have been horrendous!!

  • bart bart
    last month

    Yes, I totally agree that Rosefolly's method of quick dispatch is the best ,and actually the most humane. Trapping wild animals-using so-called "humane" traps- is apparently much crueler in reality than simply killing them off quickly. When I had a badger invasion, I bought a huge, expensive "Havahart" trap,but another forum member called me back to reality. So I did some research on Internet, which completely confirmed what this other forum member had written to me. The experience of being trapped is so traumatic for a wild animal that it often weakens their hearts, etc. But even without that, being released into a new environment usually condemns them to a slow death. They don't know where the water/food sources are ,and in any case, the local wild population of the new environment will not accept them; in other words, they arrive in this new environment with "designated victim" written all over them.

    I am very, very grateful to this forum member who saved me from deluding myself. I gave the trap away to a local man who wanted to use it to trap animals that he intended to eat. Sounds brutal, but I'm afraid that the bottom line is that when we humans intervene and mess around with Nature-even with kindly intentions-the results tend to be bad.

    Rosefolly thanked bart bart
  • Rosefolly
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    BTW, I am working today on the roses I have planted on the back fence which separates the garden from the hillside field. Mostly I am deadheading but also I am doing some light pruning. This should have happened two months ago so I am running late. As I work I am reminded that while many rose growers prefer old roses because unlike hybrid teas with their "naked legs", many old roses will be covered with foliage to the ground. Well, maybe so. But each year I carefully prune mine up. I want the "naked legs". I need to be able to see if there are any snakes lurking below the shrub.

    I want no surprises.

  • roseseek
    last month
    Rosefolly thanked roseseek
  • sautesmom Sacramento
    last month

    Berrypies

    If you are worried about spiders, Deet ( Off mosquito spray) kills spiders, so I always spray my body parts and clothes down whenever I'm working somewhere where I am going to come into contact with spiders.

    Carla in Sac

    Rosefolly thanked sautesmom Sacramento
  • berrypiez6b
    last month

    Those darn spiders often hitch a ride into the house on our clothes. The health food store specially mixed a stinky herbal insect repellant for me, but nothing works unless you remember to use it. I need to train myself somehow to wear gloves too.

    Rosefolly thanked berrypiez6b
  • judijunebugarizonazn8
    last month

    I had some rattlesnake drama as well this week. Normally I’m awake and about at 5 am, but on Tuesday morning I was sleeping late to catch up after my busy weekend hosting a reunion for my extended family(63 people). About 20 till six I was awakened by my son’s beagle barking a strange strangled sounding bark. I tore out of bed and out to the vegetable garden where I found him staring at me desperately, frantically. I saw his face was starting to swell and figured right away that he’d been bit by a rattlesnake. I picked him up and carried him in to his bed, called my neighbor lady who studied to be a vet, though never became one. She confirmed my suspicions. In a few minutes I was in my car heading to Tucson, our nearest emergency vet. Meanwhile, my husband combed the whole garden with a shovel but never found a snake. The blood test did not show the normal abnormalities in the platelets and red blood cells, but they did find a fang puncture on the top of his head. All the other symptoms lined up with rattlesnake bite, and the vet determined it to be “dry bite”. After giving him IV fluids, pain meds and nausea meds, we brought him home to recover. This is the third day and he’s still swollen, but better. He’s back to chasing the cats, so I think he’s feeling better. ;) We have been having an extra wet monsoon season and snakes are coming out of their holes and looking for dry ground, so extra vigilance is in order!

  • berrypiez6b
    last month

    Glad your brave boy is getting better !!!

    Rosefolly thanked berrypiez6b
  • rosecanadian
    last month

    Rosefolly - oh my goodness...snakes under your rose branches!! Yikes!


    Judi - oh your poor boy. Thank heavens it was a dry bite. Scary.


    Rosefolly thanked rosecanadian
  • jacqueline9CA
    last month

    I realize that some people have fears about all spiders, but garden spider are VERY GOOD bugs, and I do not think should be killed. Check out which spiders IN YOUR AREA are dangerous, and you will then know whether there are any or not, and what kind they are. Here we do have black widow spiders, which are local. However, they do not randomly wander around gardens. They like the dark, like under things, and are identifiable on sight. The only places I have ever seen them in the garden are places like under a stack of unused pots, on the back of stored and not used garden furniture, etc. Once, when I was helping a cousin moved, we found 3 of them in the rented moving truck as we were unloading her furniture at her new house - they were happy UNDER the bottom of several "chest of drawers" in the dark space between the bottom of the chest and the floor - that is until we moved their homes and disrupted them.


    Basic message - most garden spiders are good, eat garden pests, and make amazing webs - we always look forward to watching them and their webs grow (sometimes I have to encourage them away from the middld of paths) - some of them grow to 1 inch long or more by Fall.


    Jackie

    Rosefolly thanked jacqueline9CA
  • sautesmom Sacramento
    last month

    I don't randomly kill spiders but I also don't want them biting me when I'm working in plants, because even the non-poisonous bites are miserable. So I spray myself with DEET

    Carla in Sac

    Rosefolly thanked sautesmom Sacramento
  • Rosefolly
    Original Author
    last month

    Judi, I'm glad your dog is okay. Having had a dog who was bitten by a rattlesnake about 10 years ago, we are always concerned about this. One of our current dogs had a bad reaction to the rattlesnake shot (which buys you time, not immunity) so we turned to rattlesnake avoidance training. It worked very well for us. Our two terriers have an intense prey drive, but they leave rattlesnakes alone, won't go near them. Our experience is that it is well worth it.

  • rosecanadian
    last month

    Jackie - I don't think we have any dangerous spiders here. :) :) I have a live and let live credo for most bugs. I've read that you should let spiders live in your house...so when I saw a small one...I let it be. Maybe that's too weird. :)


    Rosefolly - that sounds like a great idea! Clever!

  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    last month
    last modified: last month

    rosecanadian, we do the same thing and have done that for the 40+ years we've lived in this house. We don't end up with a lot of bugs in the house, but we'll see a small common spider once in awhile and ignore it. They are supposed to keep the population of other bugs in the house, in check. We don't ever seem to get overrun with them.

    If I saw an unusual spider, or a large scary spider, no, he'd be out as soon as I spotted it before he could disappear into the house. And I'm always conscious of potentially harmful spiders in any storage areas and boxes, like the brown recluse spider. And this thread is another reminder not to forget that. But actually, I've probably only seen a different looking spider in the house, twice in 40 years and then it was nothing all that scary, just a little bigger and darker than the usual common spider.

  • judijunebugarizonazn8
    last month

    Rosefolly, thanks for the advice. Several of my neighbors suggested the same thing and even gave me referrals. I’m going to check into it!

  • Rosefolly
    Original Author
    last month

    We used a company called Snakeworx. They were excellent. I suspect quality may vary.

  • rosecanadian
    last month

    Prairiemoon - so it's not just me. :) :) And, yeah, this was just a little spider, and we don't get dangerous spiders here.

  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I wondered if I am over confident, because when you say we don't get dangerous spiders here, I couldn't say that with confidence, because I would think that every place has dangerous spiders, just some more than others. I just have not had the personal experience at my house.

    So I looked up my state - Massachusetts and there are a couple of dangerous spiders, including the Black Widow that has the identifiable red hourglass marking on it. I have never seen one here. But with all the shipping that is done across the world today, I'd think it's quite possible to get spiders you shouldn't have, too.

    We have a lot stored in our attic and basement that we need to start sorting through soon, so this is a reminder to do it with gloves on with a LOT of light and focused on making sure you don't run into any. And in reboxing anything, we'll use a lot of packing tape to close the boxes.

    But in the Southwestern and Western part of the country - they do have some pretty scary looking spiders and snakes. And let's not forget about killer bees and crazy red ants. It feels like our part of the country is tame by comparison.

  • jacqueline9CA
    last month

    Here is a funny picture of black widow spiders. True - the female is the big black one with a red hourglass on her abdomen. The other one is the male, who she eats after mating.


    Jackie





  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    last month

    Very surprising there is such a size difference.

  • rosecanadian
    last month

    Prairiemoon - good thinking in being safe where spiders may lurk. :) I'm quite surprised...I googled dangerous spiders in Calgary...Black Widow and Brown Recluse! I had no idea. And I've never heard of anyone being bitten by one here. I looked further...they're exceedingly rare here. :)


    Jackie - great picture you found! The female is so beautiful.

  • jacqueline9CA
    last month

    There is a reason they call that spider a "Black Widow".


    Jackie

  • erasmus_gw
    last month

    A big copperhead bit my dog in the neck years ago. He recovered in a few days. From what I hear a big snake can control how much venom they inject and they don't always want to inject the maximum amount. A baby snake doesn't know how to do that and can actually inject more venom.


    I've killed a few small snakes here and really hated doing it but worried about my dogs. A neighbor recently seemed to want to remind me to be scared outdoors. He asked if I don't see snakes in my garden and then told me he saw a fairly large bear walking up the street recently. I have a hard time believing that. The worst critter I've encountered in my garden was a yellow jacket nest...got stung about 20 times mowing over it. Nature is not so benign in NC so you have to be a bit cautious ...a hole in the ground can get you after all.

  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Twenty times!!? Ouch!

    My son has been having trouble with yellow jackets this year. They got rid of a nest under their deck stairs and the next week, the dog got stung twice lying on the grass. Not sure where they are coming from now. Hard to see a small hole in the ground.

  • rosecanadian
    last month

    Erasmus - Yikes! Yeah, I've heard that about snakes. I'm glad your dog recovered. I bet he's terrified of snakes now. He could be an alert dog for you for snakes in the yard. Oh, that would have been nasty to have been stung over 20 times. I'm glad you aren't allergic.