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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone have any experience with doggie snake bites?

I have lived here exactly a year but Wednesday was the first time I ever saw a Diamondback rattler. We were about 5 feet away, luckily not close enough for trouble and Bosley just walked right by him. Then we stopped and watched until the snake got bored and left.

Today we had a huge snake at the end of our driveway as we left fora hike, but he seemed afraid of Bosley who just trotted on by. I think he was a gopher snake so harmless.

Bosley loves to chase bunnies, lizards, ducks when they leave the pond and I'm hoping snakes are just too slow to interest him.

My fear is that Bosley will get bitten and he is so small he won't make it to the vet for the anti-venom.
 

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You have four species of Rattlesnake in Southern California.

I hate to tell you this but if your dog is the one in the avatar, if he gets tagged by a rattlesnake, his chances of making it are not very good.....Be careful.
 

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You might talk to your Vet about your concern, and he may have some useful suggestions. In Texas, where the predominant snake seems to be the large diamondback, many hunters will snake-proof their dogs, and we have trainers that use real snakes for this aversion training. Dogs are actively taught to detect and avoid snakes... not sure if you can find something like that where you are, or if it is even appropriate for a smaller dog.
 

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Thanks for all of the suggestions. Yesterday my neighbor told me the boxer 2 doors away was bitten a week or so ago costing the owner $600 for the antivenin. Then later on a group of us neighbors were walking and another neighbor stopped on the road down here to ask us if we've seen snakes, she has several dogs. This morning I did a google search and learned that there is a vaccine! I'm going to look into that tomorrow. What the link said was the vaccine helps a great deal and is made from horses or sheep that have been bitten. It needs to be injected then injected again a month later then follow up boosters every 6 months.

Here's the info I learned from a local vet website, I don't want to get in trouble for posting the link but this is great info:

"Vaccination is safer than antivenin treatment. Vaccination can reduce the overall effects of snakebite, reduce or eliminate the need for antivenin, and decrease other treatment costs as well. The first year your dog is vaccinated, she should receive two doses of vaccine spaced one month apart. Subsequent booster doses are recommended every six months, or about a month before you take your dog into rattlesnake habitat. The vaccine stimulates your dog's own immunity. Protective antibodies made by your dog in response to the vaccine start neutralizing venom immediately. On average, antibody levels in recently vaccinated dogs are comparable to treatment with three vials of antivenin. This means vaccinated dogs should experience less pain and a reduced risk of permanent injury from rattlesnake bite.

Snakebite is always an emergency. Even after your dog is vaccinated against rattlesnake venom, she should be taken to your veterinarian for evaluation and care as soon as possible following snakebite."

I hope this is helpful to someone else.
 

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:redface:After re-reading everything this morning I find I kinda got my signals crossed on how the vaccine is formulated. It is the antivenin that is formulated from horses and sheep that have been bitten by rattlesnakes, not the vaccine. I found no information on how they create the vaccine for rattlesnake bites.
 

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I lived in San Diego county for many years. There are a lot of rattlesnakes, even in populated areas. A lot of dogs get bitten by rattlesnakes. Even dogs who are not harassing a snake can get bitten. They might not even notice the snake, but if they get too close (e.g., while chasing a rabbit), that's it. This is extremely serious, $600 is getting off very easy. A small dog does not have much chance of surviving.

I think the vaccine you are talking about is "Red Rocks", it seems to be safe, but there is no evidence regarding efficacy. Here's what the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has to say about it: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/whatsnew/article.cfm?id=1883

It is derived from Crotalus atrox (western diamondback) venom. The western diamondback is not found in San Diego county. It does occur in Imperial county though.


There are 3 species that are found in western San Diego county, 2 of which are common: C. ruber (red diamond) and C. oraganus (Pacific rattlesnake). The speckled rattlesnake (C. mitchelli) is the least common (in coastal SD). If you go into the desert, you may also encounter the sidewinder (C. cerastes). Each species has different venom. Although they have similar mode of action to the C. atrox venom, it is not clear how effective Red Rocks is against the venom of these other species. As someone previously posted, Red Rocks known to be ineffective against the Mojave (green) rattlesnake (C. scutulatus), because the venom has a completely different mode of action (primarily neurotoxic).

Many of the people that I know who hunt or herd with dogs do get their dogs vaccinated with Red Rocks as a "can't hurt, might help" measure.

Most people I know bring their dogs to rattlesnake avoidance training. This teaches the dog to actively notice and avoid rattlesnakes. This prevents the dog from harassing snakes, and also prevents incidental bites. I have used and can highly recommend http://socalrattlesnakeavoidancetraining.com/ They do use multiple local species of snakes, as well as juvenile snakes (no rattle) and shed skins. You should avoid trainers who claim to use "defanged" rattlesnakes rather than muzzles, because fangs grow back very quickly (and also because this is cruel to the snakes). It is also important to be sure that the dog avoids the scent, not just the rattle sound, for several reasons: juvenile snakes do not have rattles and often inflict the most serious bites because they cannot control the amount of venom they inject; adult snakes can lose their rattles; selection pressure favors snakes that do not rattle and go undetected, versus snakes that rattle and get killed.

After avoidance training, my dogs had multiple rattlesnake encounters and never got bitten.

IMO one of the best things you can do is understand rattlesnake behavior and activity patterns and use that knowledge to reduce the likelihood of encounters. In southern California, rattlesnakes are not active when the temperature is below 60F or above 90F. In warm weather, they are active at night. Inland, overnight lows are almost always below 60F, and for about 9 months of the year it almost always goes below 50F. I got into the habit of running the dogs before sunrise to take advantage of the cool temps and avoid snakes.

BTW, there are rumors that Fiesta Island is free of rattlesnakes, but I have seen buzztails out there with my own eyes. Never believe that anyplace in rattlesnake country is snake free.

Here is a great resource:
http://www.californiaherps.com/snakes/snakesmaps.html

And here is some additional info:
http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vmth/pharmacy/pdfs/pharmnewsvol4-1.pdf (note that this incorrectly lists C. viridis as occurring in Califoria, this is incorrect and should be C. oreganus).
 

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It is derived from Crotalus atrox (western diamondback) venom. The western diamondback is not found in San Diego county. It does occur in Imperial county though.
The Western Red is INDEED in SD county, especially in the western part of the county (Ramona/Alpine west to IMP county) I've seen them in the area while horseback riding, the Mojave Green is in the same area as well as the COastal.
 

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I've been wanting to take Mumble on hikes, but I do worry a lot about snakes. Most local snakes aren't going to give us much warning, as they don't have rattles. A cottonmouth would probably run away if they heard us coming, but copperheads can be kind of crazy. If we're walking in an area that seems a likely snake habitat I try to walk a little harder on the ground, especially since I've got a small dog that takes light steps.
 

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The Western Red is INDEED in SD county, especially in the western part of the county (Ramona/Alpine west to IMP county) I've seen them in the area while horseback riding,
That's C. ruber, not C. atrox. Atrox is a lot more aggressive and has much more potent venom. Ruber is comparatively shy and has weaker venom. Many avoidance trainers will have atrox, but if you spend most of your time in SD county, your dog should be averted to ruber and oreganus, and possibly mitchellii if you spend much time in the mountains and/or deserts.

It is important to know which species are found in your area, because each species has a different scent. Many dogs generalize aversion to all types of rattlesnakes or even to all snakes, but some do not. Also if there is an envenomation (of human or pet) the ER is going to want to know which species.

the Mojave Green is in the same area as well as the COastal.
No, C. scutulatus is only found east of the peninsular ranges and north of the Little San Bernadinos (i.e., the Mojave, but not the Colorado desert). Check out the range maps on the californiaherps site that I linked in my previous post.


Avery, walking heavily can help, snakes can feel the vibrations. But they can't hear, so making noise doesn't help. Using a walking stick to rustle the bushes in front of you will also give them a warning. But I would still search for someone doing snake avoidance training in your area. It is something you can do yourself if you know anyone who keeps snakes. Apparently not too many dogs are bitten by copperheads, and when they are, antivenin is seldom used because mortality rates are so low. With such a small dog though, I think it is wise to take as many precautions as you can.

As unpleasant as rattlesnakes can be, at least they are able to give a warning before they strike.
 

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I see you're going by range maps, I'm going by personal experience. I've seen Western Reds as far in SD county as Poway, I've seen Mojave in Ramona and Alpine and Coastal Pacifics in the areas from El Cajon and the Iron Mountain area to the coast (in the Sea World employee lot). I've captured and relocated them from the Stables at MCCS Miramar and Camp Pendleton when I was working there. Of all of them I'd be MOST concerned about Mojave and Coastals as they are both Neurotoxic and coastals are also Necrotic, really nasty buggers to get bitten by...
 

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I see you're going by range maps, I'm going by personal experience. I've seen Western Reds as far in SD county as Poway
C. ruber occurs from the coast to the eastern slope of the peninsular ranges, from northern Orange county south through Baja.


I've seen Mojave in Ramona and Alpine
How exactly did you identify these snakes as C. scutulatus? They are very similar in appearance to C. atrox, and C. oraganus helleri (sometimes called the black diamond) can also be very similar in appearance. Did you notify the California Department of Fish and Wildlife? A confirmed sighting of C. scutulatus anywhere in San Diego County would be of very great interest to herpetologists, who are universally under the impression that this snake is not found for at least 50 miles to the northeast.

and Coastal Pacifics in the areas from El Cajon and the Iron Mountain area to the coast (in the Sea World employee lot). I've captured and relocated them from the Stables at MCCS Miramar and Camp Pendleton when I was working there. Of all of them I'd be MOST concerned about Mojave and Coastals as they are both Neurotoxic and coastals are also Necrotic, really nasty buggers to get bitten by...
Yes the southern pacific rattlesnake (C. oraganus helleri) is of most concern in SD. It is the most common, is found in all habitat types, is common in populated areas, is aggressive, is known for multiple strikes, is not known for dry bites, and the venom of some individuals does have a neurotoxic component (venom composition varies by locality/population, age, and diet). A highly prey-driven dog (like my lurcher) that is not deterred by the first strike is not likely to survive an encounter with this snake. It ranges from Morro Bay to the eastern slope of the peninsular ranges, down into Baja. It is also very similar to the other subspecies (northern Pacific, Panamint, and Great Basin) that one is most likely to encounter when traveling in CA beyond SD county. So if you are going to do rattlesnake avoidance training in SD county, this the #1 species to have on hand.
 
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