Dr. Wayne Davis: Slithery, slimy snakes
Snakes. They’re emotionally controversial critters. Some see them as interesting or fun and even beautiful, but I know some people who, as soon as they know there is s snake in the vicinity, (no matter what kind) get a crazed look in their eyes and start grabbing for shovels, rakes, guns, or I’m convinced if they had them, their nuclear arsenal.
Years ago, I saw a fella (Dan) going after a little garter snake in a log cabin with an ax. Furniture was broken, bunk beds were ripped off of walls. You could track the flight of the terrified little snake by the holes in the floor, walls and rafters. It was amazing to watch the snake quickly climb the corner of the wall to get to the rafters. The scene was shocking in it’s intensity. The rest of us stood there with our mouths agape as this scene of temporary insanity unfolded, transpired and concluded with an exhausted, sweat soaked man sitting in the only remaining chair, chest heaving.
When I first built my clinic, my large animal section was invaded by crickets. They liked to sing at night. It sounded like a cricket choir. (They weren’t Morman crickets, so it couldn’t have been the Mormon Tabernacle Choir). The crickets viewed my place as a resort, but the garter snakes who followed in their wake must have viewed it as an all you can eat buffet. Both the cricket boom and the following garter snake boom subsided and now we hardly see either one.
I have a tendency to view snakes as interesting, beautiful and an integral part of the ecosystem. I still have a tendency to jump if one takes me by surprise… until I ascertain whether it is a “good” snake or a “bad” snake. It’s not a bad idea to jump away until you know. It’s not necessarily a snake phobia, it’s just good common sense, like kids not talking to strangers or immigrants being screened before they enter the country.
This year we have had more animals come in bitten by Rattlesnakes than any year I can remember. Snake venom has three basic types of toxins: a necrotoxin, a hemotoxin and a neurotoxin. The relative amounts of each toxin seems to vary from snake to snake. We can’t choose which kind of snake bites our animal, unlike politics where we get to choose our poison.
There is a vaccine for rattlesnake bites for both dogs and horses. It causes their immune system to produce antivenin, so if they are bitten, the affects of the bite are quite a bit less. This makes it a lot less likely your animal will die from the bite and even less likely they will be as sick and miserable from the bite. It usually makes it easier and cheaper to treat the animal.
Dr. Wayne Davis owns Craig Veterinary Hospital.Dr. Wayne Davis owns Craig Veterinary Hospital.Dr. Wayne Davis owns Craig Veterinary Hospital.
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