How and why to kill a rattlesnake

Canebrake Rattlesnake : Coiled and ready to strike

Angry canebrake rattlesnake
Angry canebrake rattlesnake
snake with tool that killed it
snake with tool that killed it
Canebrake on alert
Canebrake on alert
Beginning to coil up
Beginning to coil up
Fully coiled and ready to strike
Fully coiled and ready to strike

I knew by the sound of the bark my Jack Russell terrier had cornered another rattlesnake. She hates snakes of any kind but especially canebrake rattlers. This part of southern Georgia is the perfect environment for snakes of many kinds. This includes many non-venomous and venomous species. Because of the many swamps and forested areas along with food crops being grown by the thousands of acres, there are plenty of rodents and other small animals for the reptiles to feed upon.

All of the snakes have their niche in the food chain with most being harmless and beneficial to humans. The species include corn snakes, cottonmouth moccasins, the rare indigo snake, and of course, the king snake. There are also many other species of water and garden variety snakes occasionally encountered in everyday circumstances. I enjoy observing these snakes and try to avoid causing them harm in any way.

So you see, I do not hate snakes, I am fascinated by all forms of life and respect their place in our world. But we have to draw a line when it comes to the personal safety of our families and pets. Rattlesnakes are in no danger of becoming scarce in this part of the world and as a matter of fact, their numbers seem to be increasing year by year. At one time the diamondback rattlesnake was the most encountered of the two species, the other being the canebrake, but now it is just the reverse.

The boll weevil eradication program in Georgia seemed to eradicate more than just boll weevils. Many species of animals, insects, and fish were affected by the chemicals used to eliminate the boll weevil from the many cotton fields in the area. One of the most affected species was the gopher tortoise. This gentle creature inhabits the sandy ridges common to this area. But since the program was initiated the once well populated ridges are now a ghost town of abandoned burrows. There are some tortoises left but their numbers have been decimated. One can only hope they will survive and multiply.

Unlike the canebrake rattlesnake, which can live in abandoned pipes and under various other kinds of debris, the diamondback rattlesnake needs a burrow to live in. The loss of the gopher tortoises and their burrows has caused the canebrake rattler to replace the diamondback as the dominant rattlesnake in my area. Though not as large as the diamondback, the canebrake seems to be faster and more elusive. Both are extremely dangerous no matter what snake aficionados may say.

It is not uncommon to encounter several canebrake rattlers a day. Unless homeowners kill these creatures when they are found they run the chance of stepping on them accidentally and being bitten. Children and pets are also at risk playing outdoors, even at the doorsteps of their own homes. Sure, these troublesome reptiles could be relocated to another area but where? Not only does this require capturing them without getting struck but also storing the snakes until finding time to transfer them to another area. I once sold rattlesnakes to a local buyer but now there is no one to sell them to. I would much rather the rattlesnakes be used for obtaining anti-venom than having to kill them, but unfortunately reality dictates the latter solution.

People who live in the many different parts of the U.S. naturally have different views concerning killing venomous snakes and I try to understand how their own local conditions may affect one’s opinions. I hope my views are considered realistically by these same individuals whose experiences may differ from mine. When I receive hate mail from those who disagree with my snake killing techniques I take in consideration the part of the country these people live, especially those residing in relatively snake free residential and other urban sections of many states.

The sub-tropical southern zone of Georgia makes it almost impossible to keep undergrowth clear enough to spot rattlesnakes easily. A person with a job requiring outdoor work such as farmers or construction workers are always at risk of coming into contact with rattlesnakes. If the rattlesnake has found a source of food in the area they will certainly frequent the same spots. If you see one and let it go you will be in danger of encountering this same snake when you aren’t aware he is underfoot. Rattlesnakes are creatures of habit and they will travel the same paths as long as the food supply remains constant.

Although I personally know of no one killed by a rattlesnake bite, I do know of some people being hospitalized with serious problems caused by a bite. Many dogs and cats have been killed by rattlesnakes in this area and I am constantly worried about letting my dog run free through the woods and fields. But so far Ally, my Jack Russell, has evaded the fangs of many rattlers. She is as fast as lightening, unlike many of the larger dogs common to the area.

Today she has found a five foot canebrake in our back yard. I have problems keeping her away from the deadly snake as she will dive right in and grab it if given the chance. If she is lucky enough to grab the snake without being bitten she will shake it furiously and break its neck. I prefer to dispatch the snake myself and save Ally from a possible bite. I wonder how many she has killed when I wasn’t around.

As you can tell by the photos, the rattlesnake was already coiled up and in the classic striking pose. If a rattlesnake has time they will always assume this position. But they do not have to coil up to strike. If stepped upon or threatened they will strike immediately and not wait to coil. The coiling up is a defensive posture designed to make themselves a smaller target to animals or humans. The buzzing of the rattles is a nervous reaction and also a warning to stay away.

Although dangerous, rattlesnakes are very easy to kill. Any object with a long handle will do. I have killed them with a variety of utensils. Sticks, hoes, golf clubs, and in this particular instance, a rake. A sharp blow struck just behind the neck will usually do the trick. Striking the head repeatedly will also suffice to dispatch the snake. The snake will continue to move for a while after death but this is common. The muscles expand and contract for as much as an hour in some cases. Do not touch the head or fangs as the venom is still present and lethal.

The rake did the trick with one blow and the danger was over for now. The latter part of the rattler was a black color and it had thirteen rattles. Stretched out, it was as long as the rake itself. This was a particularly aggressive creature and it smelled of rotted meat. This is something else most books won’t tell you, a rattlesnake will give off an offensive odor at times.

I do not recommend killing all venomous snakes, just those that could cause injury to your family, friends, or pets. In most cases man can co-exist with animals, but this is not always possible. Use your common sense but by all means be careful when attempting to kill any venomous snake.

There are special tools and techniques involved in how to catch a rattlesnake. Make sure you know what to do before attempting the capture of this dangerous reptile!  Also, you can learn how to make a snake catcher of your own!

Another canebrake on the road

Snakes seem to cross dirt roads at the same places.
Snakes seem to cross dirt roads at the same places.

Arch enemy of Rattlesnakes

A king snake, hot on a rattler's trail.
A king snake, hot on a rattler's trail.

More by this Author


Comments 69 comments

countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

Well I do understand the rationale since we have to be careful of our safety. I just wanted to know if you have any statistics like: How many people were bitten, died and so on? And also how widely available is anti venom treatment centers in Georgia. I am neutral on this one. I agree we have a right to live in a safe environment and as far as possible without any harm to them.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Many pets and livestock are killed each year in this area. Very few humans die from snakebite but chances of losing a limb complicates things. In my case a long trip to a medical center would be tough as I. live in the country. Encountering several rattlesnakes in a day is not unusual here. Unless you have had personal contact with these creatures you wouldn't fully appreciate the danger. I really don't know of an anti venom treatment center in this area. Not saying there isn't one, I just haven't heard of one.


Matthew King 7 years ago

I certainly hope you don't harm canebrakes when they are encountered on a road far from any human habitation. Just this afternoon I saw a canebrake crossing a road on a country road south of Athens, GA. Relative to south GA these rattlesnakes are rarely encountered here. I would hate to see a day when canebrakes are not a part of my local fauna.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I do understand your concerns Matthew. When I was a child we seldom encountered a canebrake rattler. At that time we were bothered by huge Eastern Diamondback rattlesnakes. But after the boll weevil eradication program eradicated not only the boll weevils, but other species of insects and animals as well the Diamondback was replaced by the canebrake. This is largely due to the demise of the many gopher tortoises whose burrows were used by the diamondbacks to survive the winter. I have not encountered the diamondback in this area for over ten years now but the canebrakes are everywhere. No, I do not kill any snakes that do not pose a threat to people, but those close to homes or workplaces are dispatched quickly. If these creatures were rare it would be a different story, but for now they are a problem to any outside activity by children, adults, livestock, and pets. I hope you understand my intent and thanks for your input.


Matthew King 7 years ago

I thank you for not harming the rattlesnakes that are far from homes and workplaces. I wish more people in Georgia shared this rationale. Yes diamondbacks are extremely rare on most parts of the Georgia mainland. I am lucky enough to travel to barrier islands that still have healthy populations of diamondbacks a few times a year. One thing to consider is that not all populations of diamondbacks are dependent on tortoise colonies. They are also known to hibernate in stumpholes and abandoned mammal burrows. What they must have is high, dry, and open areas, unlike the typically swamp dwelling canebrake. I believe fire suppression has harmed tortoises and diamondbacks as the forest closes in and allows for an abundance of hardwoods in what was originally longleaf pine forest.

Do you ever come across pine snakes or hognose snakes? I'd love to see a picture of a pine or two!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I appreciate the role of snakes in our environment and do not relish destroying any of them. Apparently we do not have any burrowing mammals, other than the armadillo for the diamondback to hibernate in. The high sandy ridges on parts of my farm are once again being colonized by the tortoises so perhaps the diamondback will return.

I have some pictures of hognose snakes and plan to do an article on them when I get the chance. They seem to use many different color patterns for camouflage but I have not researched this species thoroughly enough yet. I took a photo of a blue colored hognose snake recently which I plan to use in my future piece.

I'm not clear on what species a pine snake is unless you mean a sub-species of the hognose snake. Feel free to enlighten me if you would care to. Thanks again.


Matt King 7 years ago

The pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucas) is a very large nonvenomous snake. Much larger than even the biggest eastern hognoses (Heterodon platirhinos). You should know that in south GA there are 2 species of hognose, but the southern hognose (Heterodon simus) is very nearly extinct in the state. It hasn't been seen in AL or MS in 40 years and is only in a few GA locales these days. Namely large undisturbed areas (Ft. Stewart and Ft. Gordon to name a couple). Look up the pine snakes and southern hognoses when you get a chance. Both species of hognose and pine snakes love the high dry areas that tortoises and diamondbacks also enjoy. You might want to consider the state herpetologist John Jensen's new book: Reptiles and Amphibians of Georgia. It has everything you'd ever want to know.

Thanks for your interest,

Matt King

Athens, GA


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I really need to study more about the various snakes in this area. I have recently started photographing more snakes on the isolated back roads in this area. I see plenty of corn snakes, rattlesnakes, kingsnakes black racers, and some hognose snakes. A few years ago I witnessed an indigo snake crossing a paved road. It reached from the center line of the road to the grass median. Beautiful creature.

Thanks for the heads-up on the book and I will certainly check it out. I will try to work on the hognose article with the pictures I have already but I hope to get more. Feel free to contact me whenever you like.

Randy Godwin


A Texan 7 years ago

Snakes, I will hurt myself to get away from one! The largest rattler I ever killed was 6ft with 18 buttons, I used a 12 Gauge, ain't gonna use a rake, nope!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I have killed rattlers with sticks, rakes, golf clubs, karate bo's, and anything else at hand. Unless the snake is unreachable with any of these objects I have seldom used a gun. I do understand your caution though. I encounter many rattlers in this area, sometimes several in one day.

Thanks for the comment.


AppGal330 profile image

AppGal330 6 years ago

Wonderful and informative hub!Living in the mountains of TN, we also have a problem with timber rattlers. I, like you, try not to kill them unless they're a danger to us or our animals(dogs & horses).They are good for the environment as they are natural "verminators" :) We also have copperheads here, much more dangerous than the rattlers as they blend in with the leaves!

I've seen pine snakes here as well, small ones, about 2 feet long. They like to mock rattlers by swishing their tail in the leaves to make a "rattling" sound. They also act aggressively raising up and striking.Although, I've been told they are not venemous--I do steer clear of them, they're ornery!

Great pics as well!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Glad you enjoyed the hub AppGal. I've not seen a copperhead in many years around here but I'm sure there are still in the area. Love the mountains in Tennessee and visit every year or so.

As you said, snakes fill an important niche in nature by eating many types of rodents which helps keep them in check. Thanks for the input!


Sue 6 years ago

I lived in central FL (rural and swamp) for over 20 yrs...so yes I know of these and have encountered them. I am now in berrien County of GA and will be taking possesion of some acreage REAL soon.

This must seem strange since I fear all categories of snakes including black garden hose. :)

I was told that snakes will not cross lime and that liming a pond will keep gators out. Is there any truths to that?

I'm taking 3 kids to live on this property and want to know EVERY precaution I can take.

I intend to have some poultry around and I know from experience that poultry is a snake magnet...

Any advice on snake prevention besides the obvious mowing?

What about coral snakes and pygmys?

Love your articles. I think we may become very good friends here Randy.

Thanks. The dog I get..I have also watched a cat hypnotize a 6ft rattler by sitting just out of range and switching its tail.Of course I stayed indoors. :)


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Hello again, Sue. Apparently we will live in the same area so the venomous snakes you will encounter most often will be the canebrake and Eastern diamondback. An occasional moccasin or copperhead may be spotted but not as a rule.

I cannot advise you as to the use of lime for deterring either snakes or gators. I would not rely on this technique and it seems to me it might affect the ph balance in the pond. This in turn may be hazardous to any fish in the pond, if you wish to have any.

There is no surefire way to prevent snakes from entering your yard I am aware of. There are products (I think Wal-Mart may have them) made for sprinkling on the ground which are supposed to work. I have no experience with these materials so I cannot vouch for them.

I would suggest teaching the children about the venomous snakes and how to avoid them. Not reaching into places they can't see or stepping into high grass or weeds is a good practice for many reasons.

Fatal snake bites are rare even though they do happen occasionally. If nothing else, get a pig! They will kill and eat snakes given the opportunity.

Thanks for stopping by, Sue. If there's anything I can help you with, please feel free to ask.


TrueBlueSue profile image

TrueBlueSue 6 years ago from Lakeland FL

A pig huh? I knew they were good at finding ginseng but never knew they killed snakes. I'm kinda patial to goats :)

Thanks Randy!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I don't know if goats kill snakes or not, but they will keep the undergrowth down. But both pigs and goats make good bar-be-que though!


Michael O. Erickson 6 years ago

Hello,

I am sorry to "burst your bubble", as the saying goes, but timber rattlesnakes ("canebreak" is a localized synonym) are listed as "Near Threatened" (NT) on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. NT is just one step away from vulnerable, two steps from endangered. So your idea that "Rattlesnakes are in no danger of becoming scarce in this part of the world and as a matter of fact, their numbers seem to be increasing year by year", unfortunately, incorect. With no offense intended, I would suggest you get your facts straight next time! Also, I noticed that you seemed to imply that those who disagree with your killing snakes all tend to live in snake-free areas, therefore they probably don't understand the danger - This is actually a straw-man argument that I have seen used time and time again to justify killing snakes, but it does not stand. I was born and raised in rual Oklahoma, with my family and I coming in contact with cottonmouths, copperheads and rattlesnakes frequently. There was never a situation where killing was necessary. Not once. When we saw one on the property, we relocated it. (Where? if you live in the country, the answer is bloody obvious - deep in the woods! Catch it by scooping it up with a long stick, or profesional snake-handling hooks you can buy via the internet - remember that a snake's strike range is only half its total body length -, put it in a bucket with a lid, and have a happy!) Or, we simply left it alone. Granted, we had no dogs to worry about, but there is such a thing a "snake-training", for those who have dogs and are concerned about them getting bit. You can do it yourself, or have a professional dog-trainer do it. Also, your comment, "but for now they are a problem to any outside activity by children, adults, livestock, and pets" grossly over-exagerates the threat rattlesnakes pose. Most humans survive rattlesnake bites; horses and cattle moreso. In fact, a Kansas livestock vet once stated that using the potentialfor bites to cattle as justification for killing snakes was, and I quote, "pretty lame". When you take your children out for a ride in the car, you are subjecting them to far greater a risk then letting them run around in rattlesnake country. I know, I know, you and many others will find this difficult (if not impossible) to beleive, but that reaction is due merely to the rattlesnake's hideous and undeserved reputation.

Please, I beg of you, stop killing snakes, or at least consider doing so. I have supplied you with information, I will pray that you do the right thing.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Good of you to stop by, Michael. And do not worry, my "bubble" was not affected at all by your clean misses. I do not know your qualifications, as far as knowledge about the reptiles in my area is concerned, but I do have many years of personal experience to back up mine.

It appears you like to comment on all manner of blogs, usually finding fault with the particular author's findings, as far as I can tell. No problem, except you are wrong about the canebrake in this area. The Eastern Diamondback was once the dominant rattlesnake here. I have not encountered one in over 15 years. It was once very rare to encounter a canebrake rattler. Now you see a half dozen a day at certain times of the year.

My "facts are straight," as I have no desire to give others false information about any creature. If these snakes are not in my immediate work or home area, I do not harm them. I cannot spend my time relocating rattlesnakes or training animals to not step on these snakes. The idea is ludicrous, as is your "one step" "two step" definition of the NT status.

Near Threatened (NT) Species are listed as such due to their wide distribution, presumed large population, or because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

This is according to the source you used for your opinion. Perhaps you breezed right over the second reason for the status of the reptile. Just in case you missed it, "presumed large population." I do not have to presume anything. I know for a fact there are many more canebrakes here than there were a decade ago and I see more each year.

So go to one of the blogs where you can make someone think you actually know what you are talking about. I doubt you've ever encountered a canebrake in the wild, or know the difference between a North Georgia timber rattler and a canebrake. There are differences in their habitat and behavior and still are considered by many experts to be a different sub-species.

I suggest you do more than read about a subject before offering an opinion.


Michael O. Erickson 6 years ago

I just don't like seeing innocent animals killed.

I tried.


Michael O. Erickson 6 years ago

Oh, well, I just noticed on your profile that you are a hunter. That certainly explains everything. If I had seen that before, I would not have even wasted my time.

Sorry to have bothered you.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Just because I am a hunter doesn't mean I do not respect all wildlife. But you obviously are not acquainted with my area of the country. At one time we had no deer here at all. The native deer were all killed off around the turn of the century.

Several local hunters arranged for a railroad car full of Wisconsin Whitetail deer to be shipped down and released in this area. At this time a hunter can harvest at least 8 deer in a season but no one does, as far as I know.

The population has grown so much almost everyone has either hit one in their vehicle or almost hit one or more. My friend had one run into his truck a few days ago and so have I. Occasionally they will come through the windshield of the vehicle at 50 miles an hour. Now there are too many of them. They are on the verge of becoming pests around here.

I realize you think you are taking the high ground but you simply do not know what you are talking about. I can't say it any plainer than that. I would not attempt to give someone advice about something they have vastly more experience in than I. But this is just me. Apparently you have no qualms in doing so.

In the last two days I have shot several animals. But not with a gun. I used my camera as I usually do. I caught a wild turkey strutting in front of a hen for some wonderful photographs to be used in a future article. Today I took some photos of a Canada goose sitting on her nest. We didn't have them here a few years ago either. Now they are eating the flowers and shrubbery and crapping all over the lawns.

I could have killed the gobbler, as turkey hunting season is in. But I had much rather watch them and take photos. I am telling you these things because I would wish you to understand that things are not the same everywhere in our country. I kill no creatures who do not pose a threat to me or unless they are legally hunted for meat and to maintain a healthy population of the particular wildlife.

Many of you anti-hunters do not realize that we hunters are the reason we now have more deer, wild turkey, waterfowl, and many other wild animals in my area than we had fifty years ago. I know this is not the case in other areas of the country, but it is here. With all of the swamps, vast cornfields, peanut fields, produce fields, and piney woods, we have an environment which sustains a diverse amount of wildlife. I enjoy seeing it every day of my life.

I do not have to allow you comments on this article, but I want others to know how misinformation gets bandied around about wildlife and hunters. Take a look at my avatar. It is a photo of a very large and beautiful king snake. As far as I know, this reptile is probably easting a canebrake right now. But if I see him again, I will tell him you do not like it!LOL


Michael Jay profile image

Michael Jay 6 years ago

Wow! I found another great hub here. I wonder if I have the courage to kill rattlesnakes. I think they're scary!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I'm quite sure you would have the courage if you encountered rattlesnakes around your residence, Michael. Many of my friend's have lost beloved dogs to these reptiles. Thanks for stopping by.


TrueBlueSue profile image

TrueBlueSue 6 years ago from Lakeland FL

Hey Randy!

I have been gone awhile but wanted to let you know I got a snake dog. He is faster than a cheetah and able to make it up onto the footstool in a single bound!

He's a cute little critter, a rat terrier named Rebel.

Here is my 2 cents on the snake count and condition in our area at least. There are so many around counting them would be scary.So they just bypassed south Georgia. We like it like that ;)

My typical way of dealing with snakes has been not in killing but almost scaring them to death.

Even though they don't hear the high pitched scream they feel the earth quaking in a very horrible way from the "snake dance" people tell me I do when I stumble near them and they head for TN. When they don't go away I know I have once again come upon the humble black garden hose.

Take Care My Friend


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

You are so right, Sue! Once you have encountered a few rattlesnakes around your home, you find yourself buying a garden hose with an unnatural color.

Everyone has their own particular version of the "snake dance" it seems. Mine resembles Michael Jackson's "Moon Walk."

Your rat terrier will be a great "snake dog" if you train him a little. Very smart dogs!

I know that in some places snakes in general have a tough time surviving because of the encroachment of human beings on their ancestral territory. But here, with many grains, peanuts, thousands of acres of vegetables growing, the mice are in abundance.

Because of this abundance of rodents, the rattlesnakes have plenty to eat. As long as a rattlesnake finds food close to your home he will stay close by. I see more every year. Thanks for the comment and good luck with "Rebel."

Randy


rock 6 years ago

Randy,

I sort of understand your delima, having to live around dangerous snakes. However your logic or killing those close to you does not make sense to me. I have two roller skating rinks and a day care. Sometimes a couple of kids in one or the other will have a conflict. Goes something like, "he gave me a mean look". Our managements response is "well are you going to pick a fuss with everyone that gives you a mean look all your life? I live outside Columbia,SC in an area that used to be "country". Now it is less and less so. I just don't want us to kill of all the so called dangerous animals on our way to turning the last green space into a concrete slab. Go live in Detroit, Atlanta, Charlotte and Augusta like I have where there's nothing but wall to wall people like I have and you will learn as I have to carefully get that snake in a bag and relocate it like I have been doing. Take care.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

My logic would make sense to you if lived down here, Rock. You would spend a lot of time catching and relocating canebrake rattlers during the year, only to have more appear.

Now there are pythons in southern Florida which the snake experts say will eventually move up here. Where does one draw the line when faced with an intrusive dangerous creature? Walk a mile in my shoes!

Thanks for the comments!


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 6 years ago from Southern California

I like this one. I'll Digg this one.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thank you fastfreda! I "dig" you too!

Randy


sagebrush_mama profile image

sagebrush_mama 6 years ago from The Shadow of Death Valley...Snow Covered Mountain Views Abound!

Good hub...we just had a Mohave Green, our first rattler in our four years at this locale in Southern Nevada...they're supposed to be pretty aggressive, so not much choice but to kill it.

Would you happen to know of snakes that immitate the sound of a rattler? Had one of those a couple of years ago, which led us to realizing we needed to be better prepared to kill an actual rattler. Not sure if it was a bull snake, but was told it might be...never saw it, though, only heard it, and it made a frightening noise.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Hello sagebrush mama! I am unfamiliar with the "Mojave Green" so no advice from me on that species. About the unknown "rattlesnake sound," many species of snakes twitch their tails when agitated and if they are in contact with dry leaves or other material it may mimic the sound of a real rattler. Thanks for the comments!


Mary 6 years ago

I'm all for the rights of animals, they whould be respected and left alone, no matter how horrible and dangerous they might be, there's no reason to eliminate one single specie from the face of the Earth... I think I would have been a hippie if I lived back in the sixties (well, maybe not... I strongly believe we have fangs for a reason).

BUT, we're still animals ourselves... and when another animal is threatening an animal's life (please, don't expect a rattlesnake to live peacefully in your backyard), one of both has to go, and you're right, relocating a rattlesnake is not the most practical (nor safest) choice. It's the nature... speed, fangs and venom are the snake's weapons, we have a more developed brain and tools as ours, let's bring it on!

And yes, you're right again, I live in Sonora (South from the Arizona border), you can tell we have to deal with rattlesnakes. As I stated before, you must kill a rattlesnake when it steps on your way if you want to protect your beloved ones and yourself, and you must do it sharply and quickly, snakes may be ugly and dangerous, but there's no reason to make them suffer.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thank you so much, Mary! It's good to have an experienced viewpoint in my comments. I too respect all wildlife, but if I have to kill a rattler to keep it out of my workplace, I will do so.

Thank you again for reading!

Randy (:


C Schuelke 6 years ago

Came across this while I was searching for brownie recipes, but had to check it out as we've had a surge of rattlesnakes in central Texas this year. I found a small one during our Easter egg hunt this year at my MIL's. After seeing few if any rattlers in the past decades, my parents have encountered and killed ten in the immediate proximity of their house this year. I found the tenth one. My two year old and I were looking a large click beetle near the edge of the deck when I noticed it curled up on a supporting board within arms reach of us. It was small, but too close to the house....I believe all the ones we've encountered are diamondbacks. Interesting reading. Maybe I can talk Mom into getting a pig! My oldest is almost ready for 4-H- could be a win-win situation.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

If you have found that many rattlers there are bound to be more around. The little ones are very dangerous as they cannot control the amount of venom injected like an adult.

We seem to have more rattlers this year too! Thanks for the comments!


fluffyphydeaux 6 years ago

Hey randy

Just read your article and completely agree with you. I live in north western Arkansas and in the past I have killed one maybe two dangerous snakes on my property but this year I have killed six. You call them canebreak rattlers they look identical to our timber rattlers. Most of them were under 4 ft but one was 6 and 2 were 7 and a half. I have never killed snakes for no reason but these were within 100 ft of my house and I have a 3 yo that loves playing outside. I can't as a responsible parent allow those snakes to roam that close to my home. Until recently I had a great snake dog. She was a miniature Chihuahua and she was bitten 6 times in 3 years but she got many more. She liked to display them on my walk. Anyway just wanted to say I am in 100% agreeance with you I respect wildlife but dangerous snakes where my son plays is a no go.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I really appreciate your input, Fluffy! It takes a wake up call from reality for some folks to understand the danger to children and animals from these creatures. A huge rattlesnake was found close to my friend's two year old daughter a few years ago.

My friend heard the snake as it began rattling as it lay coiled up just a few feet away from the child. Needless to say, it didn't live long. An elderly man in this area died from a rattlesnake bite a few months back. It was under the deck of the man's lawn mower.

A good snake dog is good insurance against rattlesnakes around here. Thanks again for reading and commenting on this article.


fluffyphydeaux 6 years ago

I am a hunter also and when I am in the woods all snakes are left alone. I do nor believe in senseless killing if these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat but when they are in a posistion to pose a threat yes. Just yesterday there was a guy in my home town that was bitten in his home by a rattler. It come in through his dog door. I read some is the other posts and some people just need to get off their soap boxes and realize that when any dangerous animal when in an unnatural environment can and will do unnatural things and should be dealt with accordingly. Thank you for yoyr time.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I do not interfere with rattlesnakes in the woods either, Fluffy! Yes, many people do not understand the situation we face in dealing with these creatures around our homes and work places. Like you, I admire all living creatures but I also have sense enough to not allow them to pose a danger to my loved ones.

Thanks again for your comments and insight!


JKB 6 years ago

Hopefully everyone that finds a venomous snake on their property doesn't kill it. I understand the need to feel safe though.

More and more land gets developed every year in GA. Do the construction companies care if rattlesnakes are occupying the land? No!

Then what happens when Harry Homeowner is out doing yardwork? He flips out and kills it with a garden hoe or whatever.

Snakes can't recognize property lines and their populations decrease overall each year throughout the state as a whole. The timber rattlesnake is already extinct in 3 states it formerly occupied. It won't happen anytime soon but it'd suck to see canebrakes go the way of the mountain lions, red wolves, etc that used to live in the GA woods.

GA still has some of its natural heritage left but I'd hate to see what it looks like 100 years from now.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I understand your sentiments and in some areas of Georgia they are apt. But not where I live and work. The indigenous diamondback rattlesnake has been usurped by the canebrake. (some experts still classify them as a subspecies of timber rattler)

I do not want people to get the idea of me killing every rattlesnake I encounter while working or driving down the road. I do not disturb those reptiles which are far removed from residential or high traffic areas.

The canebrakes naturally stay around the areas where their food sources are, namely corn storage or other agricultural food packing areas. They seek the mice which abound in these spots.

And we still have panthers in this area. I have observed at least three, two at one time, during my life in these parts and others can vouch for the fact.

Believe me JKB, if the Canebrake becomes threatened in this area, I will be the first to protest their demise. Thanks for your input and I respect your concern about our wonderful wildlife.


Olivia 6 years ago

To answer the question about people dying of rattlesnake bite: I had a 19-year-old cousin who was bit walking in the woods near the O'Hoopee River in Emanuel County, Georgia. He died after a week of unbearable suffering. He was such a fine young man and his parents' only child. This affected me greatly, and I don't spare any rattlesnakes! I have a real horror for them!

Regarding snake dogs and close encounters: a couple of years ago, my chihuahua kept barking and barking for some time until I went outside to check on her. I walked up to the little dog and when I did, a rattlesnake struck at me, barely missing the calf of my leg; it was coiled up in a flower bed about 20 feet from the back door. I had already been to the faucet at that flower bed just before this happened. Needless to say, I got my gun and blew its head off.

I have a question I hope you can answer. Yesterday my husband was in the garden and actually stepped on a coiled rattlesnake. He said he knew he was standing on a snake by the way it felt--a slight movement. He jumped off it. The snake did not bite him. It just stayed there looking at him--eye to eye. Have you ever heard of this? He killed it. It was about four feet long and had six rattles. We've tried to find something like this online, but haven't thus far. And nobody we talk to has ever heard of such a thing. Why didn't it bite him? It obviously sensed that he was near by it coiling, yet it didn't rattle or ever strike.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thank you for relating your real life experiences concerning the danger of allowing rattlesnakes to remain around a place of residence.

A really bad experience for your cousin and his family. Unless you have observed the results of a

rattlesnake bite, it is hard to understand how bad the wound can be. Or the pain and damage associated with it.

I once found a small diamondback coiled up between my feet while attempting to pull up a fence post. The snake didn't move at all, as was the case you related.

Apparently the snakes felt they were not seen or sensed a larger animal was the cause of the movement and tried to lie still. These are two isolated cases in my experience, though!

Thanks Olivia, for reading, and for adding your experiences to the list of those with actual interaction with rattlesnakes.


OpinionDuck profile image

OpinionDuck 6 years ago

Besides you are there any natural enemies?

I liked the hub and the logic.

I am glad that I don't live in snake country.

Thanks


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Yes, there are the traditional enemies of all snakes. Around here they would include hawks, eagles, osprey, coyote, fox, and wild hogs! And of course, their worst nightmare, the king snake! Like my avatar!

Thanks for reading!


OpinionDuck profile image

OpinionDuck 6 years ago

Randy

Even videos on those wild hogs, awesome creatures.

Thanks


Erik 6 years ago

I understand where this guy is coming from. Venomous snakes around humans or pets is not a good mix.

Here in FL, we have the Canebrake, Eastern Diamondback, Pygmy rattlesnake, Cottonmouth, Coral snake, and in northern FL, the Copperhead as well.

Antivenin (not antivenom) for pets such as a cat or dog, will cost you around $2,500-$4,000. Usually with small dogs and cats, they can only give you a 50% chance an antivenin treatment will save the pet.

I lost my dog a few years ago. He was laying in the side yard in the sun. Pygmy Rattler bit him on the head/neck. He died because I could not afford to pay $3,399 for less than a 1/2 oz of antivenin.

He was a medium sized dog. A basset hound, short legs, but considered to be a medium size dog by weight and length. Small dogs will not likely survive, larger tough hardened outside dogs might have a chance without any treatment, but it isn't worth the risk. My dog was more useful to me than any snake has been.

If they're on your land and don't immediately retreat, ice 'em.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks for supporting my views, Erik! I think there is a preventative inoculation available for some species of rattlesnake bite made especially for dogs. This vaccine is mainly for the western diamondback but a vet told me it would probably help keep the dog alive until it coulf reach a vet.

Not sure how much it costs but i don't think it is anywhere near as expensive as the antivenin you mentioned.

Sorry about your pet! Some do not realize how many dogs and livestock are severely injured or killed by these snakes. For some, it takes personal experience before they understand the danger these creatures pose around one's home and workplace. Thanks again!

Randy


GeorgiaPeach 5 years ago

As a life-long Georgia resident, and native of South Georgia, I can affirm rattlesnakes are not endangered in our area, and killing them is essential if you have pets, children, or farm animals of value, or if you need to be able to work outside safely. People in our area have in fact died of rattlesnake bites.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

@GeorgiaPeach--Thanks for your input concerning these creatures,GP! Many people do not realize how many rattlesnakes we have here in certain parts of the south.

One has to experience dealing with them first hand or having a pet or friend bitten to understand the danger of allowing them to stay around one's residence or workplace.

Thanks again for reading and commenting,

Randy Godwin


ambertale profile image

ambertale 5 years ago from England (UK)

Hi, Randy!

I was very pleased to read this article about rattlesnakes. When I lived in Latvia there were a lot of adders - grey, black and copper colour- very venomous creatures and hard to see them in long grass. I never killed them in their "home", but if they came in my garden - no choice...sorry.

But I have a great talent as an artist, but in the Art World things are diffeent. Some dangeous creatutes are friends, but some simple flowers can be horrible :)

Once again, thank you very much for this article, people must know the truth about any danger and how to awoid it.

But for art lovers my little illustrated story...yes, I saw that vision in my mind :)

ambertale xxx


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks for reading, Ambertale. And for understanding the danger posed by these deadly creatures. I don't bother them in their habitat and don't want them in mine either.

If these snakes were endangered I would simply remove them far away, but they seem to be growing in population despite those killed around homes and on the roads.

One has to take a stand between protecting oneself and protecting the snakes.

Thanks for your info about Latvia also, it would be interesting to read about the snakes there.

Randy :)


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

WHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A few years ago the Kemp, Texas newspaper reported that a rattler of some kind had been killed there - it's ten miles away.

I'd have not a bit of mercy on a rattler. I'd kill everyone I ever saw with whatever means was available to me.

I let a Water Moccasin go this spring - I'd especially let a copperhead go if it wasn't close to the house, but I haven't seen one in a couple years. . . haven't been looking for them either!

Rattler's scare the . .. .they scare me. Breed King snakes, I say!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Yo Wesman! Ha! I can't picture you being afraid of a snake, somehow. But these guys are dangerous and seem even more when one is not accustomed to seeing them often.

You might enjoy the video I made while catching a big canebrake rattler. It's on my- How to catch a rattlesnake/how to make a snake catcher- hub.

Thanks, as always, for your time and input.

Randy


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Probably it's unfamiliarity. I mentioned the rattle snake in Kemp Texas. . . .because - it's the only time I've EVER heard of a rattle snake anywhere near here in the wild.

But if there was one - you know there are others!

Just never see them or hear about them around here. Copperheads and Water Moccasin snakes are common. . . .but I asked my dad not long ago about snake bites. Dad is 64 years old now, and he's lived his entire life in this county.

Dad said he only knew of one person to ever get bit by a cottonmouth or a copperhead - and that was one of his cousins, who spent a day or three in the hospital, and was fine.

But unless I'm just totally mistaken from the ignorance of the rattlers - my understanding is that those things are WAY more deadly than a cottonmouth!

Seriously though - Water moccasin's have a reputation as an aggressive snake. . . .but I can't tell you how many times that I've nearly stepped on one. . .or had one slither right on by in a HURRY to get out of my way.

Rattler's are in West Texas - but I've only ever heard of the one down the road ever being seen around the Dallas Metro areas.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

An elderly man was killed nearby last summer when a rattler struck him while he was cleaning his mower deck off before starting it up. But most rattler bites are not fatal.

The bites from the babies are usually more venomous as they cannot control the amount of venom injected when the strike. Larger rattlers preserve their venom as it is not made often enough to allow them to use it all at once.

Yes, water moccasins have always gotten a bad rap for being fierce. Nothing to that old myth.

I would be afraid of other venomous snakes myself if I were not familiar with their habits.

Randy


ambertale profile image

ambertale 5 years ago from England (UK)

As I wrote in my story-vision "My Soul-sister Rattlesnake", if you live in a countryside and there are a lot of wild creatures, you acquire some instincts how to accept or avoid them. You must be ready to meet them at any time.

But if you live in a town or city, you have another instincts. You are ready to meet fast cars on the pavement or some criminals at night.

If you don't improve those instincts, you are dead or injured. Simple rules.

In Latvia I lived in countryside. After second World War there were wolves that ate people, later the economy grew up and many creatures disappeared from countryside. It was better than now, because in Latvia again is very weak economy, fields are overgrown, wolves come back, snakes, mosquitos and bears come back...

I am happy to live in England and in a town. :)

I am planning to write stories about wild life in Latvia from my childhood and why I am alive, even I met the people eater wolf and how just a wonder saved me from a bear that was awoken from hunters in winter time.

I love to use artistic writing style and illustration methods to warn people from wild dangerous animals.

Often people exaggerate their love to wild life. Latest most horrible event was in Norway, there a polar bear killed a young boy because "bunny huggers" were in a camp in the place, where live about 400 wild polar bears...

Crazy! No any other words for organisers and parents who allowed their children to go to this camp.

See you again

Ambertale ;)


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

How very interesting, Amber! Please do write about your experiences in Latvia, they would make for a great story or stories.

Yes, being an animal lover may be taken too far. I feel bad for the child who didn't know any better. For his parents too, but we are surrounded by idiots, it seems.

Thanks for relating your great experiences with your native country's wildlife. And for having a good understanding of the reality of how dangerous they can be.

Randy


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 5 years ago from Tampa Bay

Those are some seriously scary looking snakes crossing the road. I remember years ago when we lived across the street, which backs up to woods and a small back river, I heard that warning rattle while walking out of the woods. There is a patch of land between the woods and the backyard which had a huge gopher tortoise living in a hole. The grass was dry and prickly and I couldn't see the snake, but the sound made me walk a lot faster back to my yard. I don't mind seeing the racers and other non-venomous snakes natural to this area, but the rattler is too intimidating for me. I enjoyed reading this hub, and the pics are great. Thanks for sharing some helpful advice.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Hello Rebekah. One never forgets the sound of mad rattlesnake. It sounds like nothing else in nature as you found out.

Gopher tortoise are a keystone species which means they share their burrows with many other species of insects and animals. Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes depend heavily on these burrows to winter in and their numbers may rise and fall along with the gopher tortoise population.

This reminds me, I have some new photos to add to my gopher tortoise hub. Thanks for reminding me and for your greatly appreciated time and input.

Randy


gracenotes profile image

gracenotes 5 years ago from North Texas

Very interesting hub. I enjoyed the mention of Ally, your JRT. Terriers have such "interesting" personalities, don't they? My miniature schnauzer has some very annoying traits, but they sure come in handy at times, for sure!

I'm in a large urban area. Because of the extreme drought in Texas, they said on a newscast the other evening that some homeowners are going to start seeing dangerous snakes that are normally in an aquatic environment coming into yards, looking for water. Uh oh. Not to mention, more brown recluse spiders as well.

Nice work!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks, Gracenotes! My Ally is a one-of-a-kind dog, in my opinion. She is about as perfect as any dog I have ever seen. Wonderful personality around other dogs and people and she never gets into mischief or makes a mess.

I know, hard to believe a dog could be so good, but she is that plus a wonderful snake repellent in the bargain. LOL!

Yes, it has been a bad drought here in GA too with many other species of snakes and animals having to search harder to find water in the countryside and towns.

Thanks so much for your input and for your mention of Ally. She and I just returned from a much needed break from reality and HubPages, for that matter.

Randy


Jarrod 5 years ago

Out of all the poisonous snakes in north america the canebrake rattler is the most shy and only tends to be angry and coil up when approached my humans so i will laugh the day you slip up and get bit i love snakes and have had some that kill in under 20 min


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I suppose you would also laugh if someone you know was killed by a canebrake as happened to an elderly man here not long ago. He was removing some debris from beneath his riding mower when a canebrake struck him without warning. He died before they could get him to the hospital for treatment.

Laugh on dude!


Ian 4 years ago

Good sir,

I do not want to ba trouble maker but the comments and posing as fact are wrong and irresponsible. 90% of venomous snake bites in the U.S. Occur when the victim is trying to pick up or kill the animal. Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus Horridus) are not aggressive animals they are defensive an animal would not develop a rattle on it's tail to ward off enemeies, if it just wanted to sneak around bite everything leg. It wants to be left alone.

I have been working with scientists and Hobbiest alike in my home state of Ky to conserve this species. This Species might not have Protective Status under Georgia Law But It Does under Federal law which Trumps state law. The have put it under this status For a reason in the last 25 yrs it has become extinct from 4 states. you are Killing an animal which needs your help and compassion. I know I will not change your mind on this subject I have dealt with people Like you in the Past, you think you are doing a service but let me tell you are An ignorant fool. accidents happen like the old man getting bit but he should of checked first. Please conserv these animals they fill a very important ecological niche. they are a meso-predator, with the extinction of the wolf and the near extintion of the Bobcat in Georiga they are on of the few predators left to eat racoons, opossums, Rabbits and Large Rats Left.

so to anyone else reading this the next time you see a canebreak don't risk getting hurt and doing something stupid and pointless, call your local Fish and wildlife Officer or animal control agency and have it professionally Removed.

P.S. The Odor cause by the rattlesnake is caused by their musk glands in their Cloaca, the do this when their scared or threatened all 3000 plus species of snake have the same organ.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Hello Ian. Calling me an ignorant fool does not help your argument in the least. It only shows YOUR ignorance when you are discussing species in an area you are not fully familiar with.

As stated in this article, the canebrake is an invasive species in my area displacing the long time Eastern diamondback rattlesnake which formerly thrived in this area because of the many gopher tortoises we once had here.

Now the tortoises are trying to make a comeback and so are the diamondbacks. Canebrakes compete with the diamondback and hinder this comeback and are in no danger of becoming scarce here. I should know as I am a long time resident here for over 60 years.

Believe me, I have no desire to harm any creature threatened with extinction and the canebrake definitely is not one of these species in my area.

Good luck to anyone around here on getting either a wildlife officer or animal control agent to come out and remove a canebrake every few days as they would be busy doing so all day long. LOL!

But feel free to come down here and take all of these creatures back to Kentucky with you if you please. And take some of these bobcats back with you too! I'd love to see you catch one by hand. :lol:

Randy


lilleth johnson 2 years ago

Yes, let the backwoods people carry the venomous snakes, bobcats, gators, whatever the fuck home with them. I am tired of being nice. I am officially a speciesist. Sorry, but I do not want venomous or predatory reptiles in my 'hood.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 15 months ago from Orlando, FL

Yep, I see boots and belts again. Rattlesnakes do not stand a chance in my community. They are history as soon as they are spotted. Awesome pictures!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 15 months ago from Southern Georgia Author

Hi Linda, as you can tell by the comment before yours, not everyone agrees with dispatching a dangerous creature from our living space. But then, they do not have to such as they don't have them crawling around where children are often playing.

Yes, I too see them as a source for beautiful boots and belts. :) Thanks for your input!

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