Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Tale Of Three DiamondBacks


In 20 years on these 10 acres, we have encountered 3 diamondback rattlesnakes. Certainly there are more. Most of the land is even more wooded now than when we moved on to it and it is prime rattler habitat.

Those 3 rattlesnakes were killed by me. I did not enjoy it.

I really like these beautiful big powerhouse snakes, but my options are few. If I catch and relocate, I do so at pretty serious physical risk and no small legal risk if caught in the act.

If I shoo them back into the woods and then my dog or kid gets bit...well, I'm not willing to go there.

Diamondback number one was cornered near the house by my best dog Ranger. Ranger was barking and bouncing and I couldn't kill that snake fast enough...I was so afraid he was going to poison Ranger. That's the snake in the picture least 12 years ago, that cutlass has been gone a long time.

Diamondback number two was lying along a fence near the house and had to go also. Clever girl, she was lying in a fence corner that would naturally funnel bunnies towards her from 2 directions.

Diamondback number three was under the house. I arrived home late, but before sundown and was walking towards the house when I heard a strange sound. Actually two sounds, one was Lady dog barking her head off, but strangely muffled. The second sound was a continuous buzz that made me think , "What is broken now?". It sounded like some piece of machinery running full tilt and about to explode.

It was Diamondback number three. This one was coiled up under the house, cornered by Lady dog who was just out of the strike zone and barking her fool head off.

I yelled at her, but she is deaf and ignored me. There's lattice around the house so I couldn't get under there easily to drag her out, plus there might be a small problem if this huge pissed off rattlesnake decided to move while I was under there.

So I dashed inside to the gun safe and got my Glock hoping that Lady didn't get a load of hemotoxin while I got the weapon.

Back outside, I picked an angle (this was a bit of a challenge) that would allow me to shoot the snake through the lattice, but not have a 9mm round go through
a) Lady dog
b) the concrete foundation blocks with resulting ricochet danger
c) the multitude of pipes that underly a house

Oh, and the sun was flashlight in one hand, pistol in the other, and aiming through a space in the plastic lattice, I got my sight picture and squeezed.

Lady dropped deader'n a doornail.

Nah, just kidding.

What actually happened is that the coiled up snake flopped over dead with barely a twitch.

I used a rake to pull the dead snake out and buried it in the backyard. No celebration, just sorry that it had to be.

Two days later the Directv guy came to wire the living room for satellite tv. I showed him where the access hatch was in the lattice so he could crawl under the house and do his work. Posted by Picasa


Laura said...

You and my hub ought to get a chance to discuss diamondback stories.
He caught two of them, barehanded, when we lived outside of Gainesville. Foolest damm thing he's ever done, if you don't mind my saying so. To his credit, it was early spring just after the frost, and each time the snakes were sluggish from the cold.

I'll never forget the first time he came up the deck, holding the rattler stretched out between two hands, each fist tight over the snake's neck and tail, eyes wide with adrenalin (or was thatfear?) and his face a slightly pale color.

I didn't forgive him for a long time. He later called everyone he knew to come see it, as he placed it in an empty aquarium outside. I was soooo mad. We were 30+ miles from the nearest hospital! (that would be Shands).

He let them go, but I was never comfortable living out there with so many snakes. We saw 3 or 4 large rattlers in the two years we were there, plus a pygmy rattler, several water moccasins (we lived on a lake) and a coral snake.

Those are the ones I know about, hub stopped telling me about them because I was getting upset. It was hard to raise a roaming toddler in snake and hunter country. (there was a hunting range bordering our property). Guess it was just a little too much for me! lol

To this day, that roaming toddler is 17 and loves snakes, just like her dad. *sigh*

So glad you lived to blog about it! LOL!

roger said...

so you can legally kill a snake but not legally relocate it? i moved rattlesnakes twice when i lived northern california, but they were small, maybe three feet long max. i am comfortable with snakes, but would not like to pick up a rattler the size of yours. i once had to shoot a skunk who got in my chickencoop and would not leave.

i'll bet the directv guy knows about dangerous wildlife under houses.

pablo said...

I, too, admire these snakes and their place in the forest, but when it comes to a choice between them and my little ones (two footed and four footed), I know what choice I'm going to make. (I'll call FloridaCracker!!!)

Jeez, you have exposed pipes under your house. That is so strange sounding to me. Handy, but strange.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

That's great storytelling, FC. I've never had any encounters with venomous snakes, and for that I am utterly grateful.
My sister does a lot hiking in the dry rocky hills of southern California. She carries her cell phone (the kind that takes photographs). She tried to get a photo of a rattler on the trail the other day. She said, "it relaxed and sensed that I wasn't going to hurt it." I said, "Oh my God, don't even think that." Yikes, she was trying to get a photo for me! A little healthy respect for the wariness of snakes, please.

Lightnin said...

Don't you remember Thunder just telling you last week that we are coming down in February to buy land? He told me there are no snakes or spiders in your neck of the woods! Now I guess I'll have to tell him we can't move there! Boy is he gonna be mad at you!
I remember the old Cutlass. That's what you were driving when we all went to Manatee Springs! Got some good photos of you and Thunder wearing the childrens floaty things!

Floridacracker said...

I grab a lot of critters, but I choose to pass on diamondbacks. I bet your husband did have a little adrenaline flow...

I know...that does seem strange. I imagine Directv guys have plenty of tales about "what lies beneath".

All the pipes are readily available in the crawl space. I guess that isn't done in the frozen north.

I agree. Never assign any emotion to a reptile.

Uh, yeah...that's right no creepy crawlies at all. Let me guess, he was brewing when he told you that!
Hey I hope he's spoiling you and your poor foot. Hope you are feeling better.

Hick said...

Wow! Another great story. We have Diamondbacks, but not that big. Around here there are cottage industries that have sprung up that remove rattlers from your home (inside and out) without killing the dang things.

I'm with Pablo, if it threatens my loved ones, it's a gonner.

thingfish23 said...

That's a good one, FC.

Tough choices for folks like us - to kill an animal you would ordinarily NEVER harm, or let the critter be (to the possible future detriment of loved ones). It's a no-brainer, but a tough choice nonetheless. Luckily, I am really the only Band-Aid denizen that ventures into the wilds of the back half of the lot. The ladies of the house stay close to more domesticated environs.

However, I am in the market for a "snake-charmer" myself. I had one offered to me gratis from a FHP fella at work. I need to subtly remind him of his offer.

We have pigmy rattlers and water moccasins in our area, though I haven't seen any yet. I know they are around, though.

A wary eye is a must at the Band-Aid.

Floridacracker said...

Our Eastern Diamondback is the biggest of the North American venomous snakes, so you can relax. Yours will never get as huge as these guys...of course yours can still kill you. Watch where you step.

I really don't like killing them at all. The wifey and I did move a coral snake once, but that is a pretty calm snake compared to a irritated DB. A free "snake charmer"?, Jump on it!

Weary Hag said...

Your critter stories are amazing. All the time!

Floridacracker said...

All true too.
The nonamazing ones never make it to print...I hope.

patina said...

a size large rattler, that one. great story. gave me the willies. i admire the snake but if it was in my yard i would be inclined to blast it to hell as well.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks. NIMBY does apply to large venomous animals.