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  #1  
Old 08-11-2009
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Ontario runs out of rattlesnake anti-venom

Rattlesnakes are a fact of life on Georgian Bay in the Great Lakes. I came within two feet of stepping on a massasauga rattler last Thursday on Beausoleil I. in Georgian Bay Islands Natl Park while walking on a park trail after anchoring in Chimney Bay. Now comes news that the province is completely out of snake anti-venom. It's even news in Vancouver. Metro - Anti-venom crisis in Ontario
The story explains the crisis and the health-care politics behind it. Bottom line is that there's enough venom in a massasauga to kill a small child, and kids are often the ones to get bitten. (if your dog gets bitten, forget about antivenom treatment. It costs tens of thousands of dollars per treatment.) As for the rest of us, the pain is powerful enough to defeat morphine. The female massasaugas are pregnant and moving around a lot more right now. If you're going ashore, mind where you're stepping.
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Old 08-11-2009
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Yikes!@! Can you go to the US? Is there any more available at the US?

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Old 08-11-2009
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Makes all the rain in the PNW worth putting up with...No poisonous Snakes...So be careful would ya!
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Old 08-11-2009
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I haven't read or heard any official word yet from the province's ministry of health about what it plans to do about this serious issue. A child could literally die in Ontario vacation country before the summer is out. Of course we also ran out of medical isotopes when the Chalk River reactor was shut down, so we seem to be a little weak on longterm planning. The West Parry Sound district health centre has been warning about a potential shortage for weeks now. You need to be very careful when going ashore in the wilder areas of Georgian Bay right now, especially with kids. Dogs should not be scampering around off leash at any time in places where the snakes are common. There was a bitten dog rushed into my vet's just the other day. Other than dousing the poor beast with Benadryl, I'm not sure what else they did for it, or if it survived. (Larger dogs apparently shake off these bites regularly.)
I have an info page on my cruising website about massasaugas, with links to further info. They're not unique to Ontario in the Great Lakes. Michigan I know has them, especially on Bois Blanc Island.
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Old 08-11-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diva27 View Post
They're not unique to Ontario in the Great Lakes. Michigan I know has them, especially on Bois Blanc Island.
Indeed Michigan does. Despite the fact that the Michigan DNR and wildlife groups claim the Eastern Massasauga is in sharp decline, they have been spotted in open fields, particularly near swampy areas, in our semi-rural neighbourhood in S.E. Michigan in years past.

Personally, I make sure to make ample noise and I listen carefully when walking through or near wilderness areas, incl. those in our own back yard. It is my understanding that, unless you run up on them suddenly, Massasaugas will give you ample warning before striking. In fact: Unless they're defending young or perceive you as a predator, they will usually attempt to escape, rather than attack.

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Old 08-11-2009
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Originally Posted by Stillraining View Post
Makes all the rain in the PNW worth putting up with...No poisonous Snakes...So be careful would ya!
There's rattlesnakes all over the PNW, it's just rare to see one. Growing up in Oregon and spending most of my time outdoors I only saw one once.
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They're absolutely not going to attack, as you say. They try to hide, and avoid even rattling. The one I almost stepped made a small raspy rattle and was heading in the opposite direction. I was coming into a clear area of bare rock in mid-afternoon and it had probably been sunning itself. Park staff will try to move snakes if they're too close to designated camping areas, but otherwise you're just supposed to give them a wide berth.
I wrote a freelance article about massasaugas a few years ago. I was told that a lot of bites are due to drunken young men mandhandling them to impress their friends, who then claim they were "attacked." A lot of other bites occur around dusk, when somebody is walking on a path and just doesn't see it and steps on it. My biggest concern always is doing just that. Making lots of noise (stomp your feet a bit to make ground vibrations) seems to help.
In more than a dozen years of cruising Georgian Bay, the only other one I have positively seen (they look a lot like fox snakes in coloration) was on an island in Norgate inlet, along a path at a cottage. The snake was curled up under the low branch of a pine tree, and made a warning buzz. But they can also rattle like dry leaves, which is what I heard last week.
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Old 08-11-2009
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I honestly did not realise that rattlers were that far up north. I would have thought the cold weather would kill them.Down here, though, they are as common as trees. Of course, we have even worse things, like Black Widows (I kill at least one a week on my property), moccasins (which scare me more than rattlers and are very aggressive, unlike a rattler), copperheads (BUNCH OF THESE, but not real poisonous unless to a child and they are like a rattler in that they keep to themselves), and coral snakes (I have never seen one but have been told they are prominent here). Get bit by a coral, and you got just enough time to tell the family you love 'em and apologize to the good Lord about being busy last Sunday!!! We also have (at least on my property) lots of coyotes & wild boars. We have to weed out the boars every once in a while because they are aggresive little dudes.

I wonder if you got bit, if you could rush some in from the US? Is there a decent stock pile in the US? I would think the further south you get, the more the stock pile would be. How long until you have to have the anti-venom?

I also wonder if it isn't time for a little rattlesnake roundup? It tastes like chicken, you know. Get a group of hunters out there and they can thin out the population enough that you will really minimize the need for anti-venom. We certainly have the expertise for that down in Texas.

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Old 08-11-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillraining View Post
Makes all the rain in the PNW worth putting up with...No poisonous Snakes...So be careful would ya!
Yeah, but at least we don't have grizzly bears. Only black bears that are so adorably cute and cuddly that you can load a couple in your dinghy, take 'em home, and start a circus in your back yard. Okay, maybe not.
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I honestly did not realise that rattlers were that far up north. I would have thought the cold weather would kill them.Down here, though, they are as common as trees. Of course, we have even worse things, like Black Widows (I kill at least one a week on my property)
Actually, there's also black widows all over the pacific northwest- even up into Canada. Like Rattlesnakes, they're a lot less common up there than in the Southwest. It's a common misconception that the PNW is cold and rainy- most of Oregon, Washingtion, and Idaho are desert, except the narrow strip along the coast where most of the people live.

Black widow range:


Rattlesnakes in washington:


Edit:

Fear of rattlesnakes and black widows goes way too far. Neither will hurt you unless you harass them and put them in a situation where they can't escape. My garage where I work on my car probably has 20 black widows in it, and I leave them alone and they leave me alone. No problem!

Last edited by casioqv; 08-11-2009 at 01:23 PM.
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