Warning: This post contains instructions on how to kill a Rattlesnake like the badass you are. If you have a pet Rattlesnake, you may want to stop here, it doesn’t turn out well for the serpents!
There are only a handful of creatures that scare the beejezzus out of me, well in all honesty, only a handful that I have come face to face with in my life. One of these creatures is none other than the ferocious Rattlesnake (In California, the only poisonous snakes we have are all varieties of rattlesnake.) Of course, the below advices applies to any version of poisonous serpent, that likes to creep up on us from time to time… *shivers*
As in the case of most of my childhood fears, I blame my brother for this phobia. He was bitten by a Rattlesnake at age 14 and had to get medically evacuated by helicopter to the nearest hospital. His foot proceeded to swell up like the nutty professor, after he had an allergic reaction to the anti-venom. You typically only hear of these things in comic books, like Spiderman, but this really happened to my brother. I think he still might be waiting to turn into “Rattlesnake Boy” the superhero (or super-villain?). As a side note, don’t wear Teva’s when you are feeding horses, you never know who might slither up to chomp on you.
Of course, I understand that there is a place in the world, and on the food chain, for rattlesnakes. However, that place is not the Wildflowers Ranch! And of course, I want to prevent my daughters from encountering a potentially life threatening situation, as often as possible. I firmly believe a girl should be able to handle whatever situations life throws at her, even those of the reptilian variety.
If you should come upon a Rattlesnake, Water Moccasin, Copperhead, or some other devilish variety and you choose to veer off the “live and let live” approach, here is how to handle yourself and kill it safely like a badass. If you have the option to call Animal Control, always feel free to do so. Please always remember, safety first!
1. Take a moment to appropriately freak out if necessary, its not healthy to bottle all of it up. But don’t yell at the snake, obviously they don’t have ears, and they won’t hear you screaming profanities. As a side note, accept no gifts or peace offerings from the serpent, especially apples. Historically, this has proven to be a mistake.
2. For those of you who know how to use a gun (or flamethrower) and can safely discharge it, this is an option. If this method is available proceed directly to Step #8, otherwise continue.
3. Evaluate the size of the snake, because a snake can strike about 1/3 to 1/2 of its length. For example if a snake is about three feet long it can strike just over a foot away. A four foot snake would be able to strike just under two feet.
4. Put on your big girl boots and arm yourself. My weapon of choice is a flathead shovel. No, not the pointed shovel, because then you actually have to do a good job at aiming. Flathead. Get one here. And seriously, wear boots. Preferably ones that if struck, will not allow fangs to penetrate. Also, if there are big rocks around, grab one.
5. Use the length of the shovel handle to keep distance between you and your foe. If its is coiled up, throwing a rock at its head is always a good place to begin. If you can take control of the situation by knocking it in the head, its a good choice.
6. Take your shovel and do your best to aim at the spot between the back of its head, where the head meets the body (tail? Who knows where the body ends and the tail begins, anyway?!) Use a jabbing motion, don’t swing the shovel like Joan of Arc wielding her Sword of Heaven. The goal is to cut the snakes head off, but any body shot will help.
7. If the snake is slithering away from you, cowardly, it might be easier to kill. When it is coiled, it is on the defensive. However, if it is slithering away and its body is stretched out, it may allow you to take better aim at cutting its head off. If this occurs, seize the opportunity! Do not let him escape.
I know how creepy all of this sounds, trust me, even writing this gives me the heebie-jeebies.
8. When you have successfully dispatched the snake, as in actually witnessed it die and stop moving, its time to ROAR like the amazing warrior you are. Going into battle with such a treacherous opponent and emerging victorious deserves celebration. Live to tell the story of how you looked fear in the eye and faced it head on.
Again though, always put safety first. Those slithery vermin can be tricky.
Some facts and myths around Rattlesnakes:
-They do not need to be coiled before striking
-They do not always rattle before striking
-They cannot jump
-They can still bite for a few moments after death, be careful and don’t get near the mouth.
-Snakes are most active during the cooler times of day, dawn and dusk, and at night. They are most active from April to October, during the warmer months.