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overdue at Sans Souci
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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Handsome devil
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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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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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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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.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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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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.

- CD
 

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overdue at Sans Souci
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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!
 

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overdue at Sans Souci
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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
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.

- CD
We have black widow spiders, too, some even on Beausoleil I., though I've never seen one. I didn't even know that until about two weeks ago.
The winter doesn't kill the snakes. They just hibernate.
The massasauga is a protected species in Ontario, and killing them carries a hefty fine. I'm not too paranoid about them, it's not like they're diamondbacks or other potent venomous snakes that really can kill people. Only small children are considered vulnerable. There was a little girl bitten at a cottage a couple years ago who was a little touch and go blood pressure wise and I believe had to have a second round of antivenom. I'm just not happy knowing there isn't antivenom in the province right now. Massasaugas are pretty common in the eastern US, and so hopefully in an emergency stuff can be flown up, but time is always of the essence, especially where kids are concerned.
 

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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!
Rattlesnakes, yes. Black Widows, no. THey will not actively seek you out. You are a threat to them. But they also go into a frenzy sometimes. I also forgot to mention Brown Recluse in my thread (which are also very common down here). But Brown Recluse and Widow's like to come out at night and explore. They like to live close to people and seek warmth (or cool). THey are predominant in the summer months and pretty much dissapear in the winter unless they find a place inside. Black widows, especially, like dark places during the day. Their favorite areas are shoes, the underground things where you turn off your water, crevices under floor boards, behind and under furniture, etc. They also go exploring during the night and will likely not be in their "homes". They chase down their prey - perhaps one of the reasons that they are more aggressive than most spiders. The web widow's spin is NOT for catching food, it is for protection from enemies (like dirt daubers). And they WILL bite if they feel threatened - like you sticking your foot in a shoe, going after a tool close to their nest or where they are, a child reaching under their dresser to get a toy, etc. I consider a black widow and a recluse one of the most dangerous things on our land - and certainly more dangerous than a rattler or copperhead. Moccassins are also aggressive and will come after you if you are near their nest or in the water where they are territorial. That is another critter we actively exterminate on our property because the risks are too great.

BTW, if you see 1 black widow, you got two. Two, then four. Four, eight... etc. So keep that in mind and also remember they are not generally excited about being in the open where they can be seen. They are probably in the open because there is no room for them where they can not be seen.

I am no spider expert, but we have to be very conscious of them where we live because they are very frequent. We do our best to exterminate them. Allowing them to stay as guests, in my opinion, is risky - especially if you have kids. Their bite is much worse than a copperhead and can kill a child or an elderly person. It won't do an adult any good either.

My opinions,

- CD
 

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We have black widow spiders, too, some even on Beausoleil I., though I've never seen one. I didn't even know that until about two weeks ago.
The winter doesn't kill them. They just hibernate.
The massasauga is a protected species in Ontario, and killing them carries a hefty fine. I'm not too paranoid about them, it's not like they're diamondbacks or other potent venomous snakes that really can kill people. Only small children are considered vulnerable. There was a little girl bitten at a cottage a couple years who was a little touch and go blood pressure wise and I believe had to have a second round of antivenom. I'm just not happy knowing there isn't antivenom in the province right now. Massasaugas are pretty common in the eastern US, and so hopefully in an emergency stuff can be flown up, but time is always of the essence, especially where kids are concerned.
Our sidewinders aren't as coloful as yours. THey are a lighter brown. But, they are generally not aggressive either. At least, I have never known one to be. The only aggressive snake I am aware of is the Moccassin. I also did not know that the diamondback's venom was worse than a massasaugas. I assumed it was all the same. But again, I am no expert.

As far as the protected species, I guess I am of the opinion that you still have to manage the population... like florida with Gators. Now there is another creature you have to keep your eyes open for. We used to live in S Florida and they can be nasty little buggers. Florida also has rattlers and probably every other snake we have in Texas. You guys got it easy!

- CD
 

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Allowing them to stay as guests, in my opinion, is risky - especially if you have kids
I've gotta say, it really annoys me when people kill snakes and spiders on "their" land because they're afraid of them- when they're not really dangerous UNLESS you do stupid stuff around them like trying to kill them. For one, if there's enough that you see them all the time, no matter how many you kill you probably won't make a sizeable dent in the population. Also, they have just as much right to live there as you do- and they play an important role in the ecosystem that makes the place suitable for you to live in. For example- if you did kill them all, perhaps it would let something more poisonous move in and take its place? Or kill off something else that's important, and depends on it?

I understand that people have a natural fear of snakes and spiders- probably an evolutionary response to help us avoid them since they can be dangerous. But I think that fear is best used to develop a healthy respect for them and to leave them alone. In addition teaching your kids to do the same will go a lot further towards keeping them safe than anything else.
 

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I've gotta say, it really annoys me when people kill snakes and spiders on "their" land because they're afraid of them- when they're not really dangerous UNLESS you do stupid stuff around them like trying to kill them. For one, if there's enough that you see them all the time, no matter how many you kill you probably won't make a sizeable dent in the population. Also, they have just as much right to live there as you do- and they play an important role in the ecosystem that makes the place suitable for you to live in. For example- if you did kill them all, perhaps it would let something more poisonous move in and take its place? Or kill off something else that's important, and depends on it?

I understand that people have a natural fear of snakes and spiders- probably an evolutionary response to help us avoid them since they can be dangerous. But I think that fear is best used to develop a healthy respect for them and to leave them alone. In addition teaching your kids to do the same will go a lot further towards keeping them safe than anything else.
Sorry to offend - but no spiders in the house or outside of the house. What they do out on the land is their problem. But I am not gong to risk my kids being bitten and possibly killed or very maimed because they want a place to set up shop. Ever seen what a Brown Recluse does to someones skin? I have. My sister inlaw was bit, as have othters I have seen. It is not pretty.

Now what they do out on the land is their business but I have every right to kill them and will kill them - especially if I feel threatened by them. Just like they will bite me when they feel threatened. And if the rattlesnakes become a problem, we thin them out. Moccasins are aggressive and I cannot have them in the watering holes for cattle and certainly not where my kids go. Water moccasins I will go out hunting for because they are nto the timid little snakes that generally avoid people. Rattlers, not so much because they avoid the area where we keep our house. But if they are caught inside that area, I will kill them. Same with coyotes and boars. If they come into that area, it is because they are being over crowded in other areas.

MY land. My house. My rules. In fact, it is that way for everyone out where I live. If you want to live with black widows in your house, that is up to you. First time you get bit, you will chagne your mind. If a child is bit on your property and dies, how would you feel about that? THEY WILL BITE. Live with them long enough and you will eventually be bitten.

But hey... your house and your rules. Whatever floats your boat. But my house and boat are a snake free/insect free zone.

- CD
 

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If you want to live with black widows in your house, that is up to you.
I can understand keeping them out of your house, I do also. I was just taking in general about people who I've seen who own a lot of land, and go on a rampage trying to kill every snake and spider on it- which I think is counter-productive, dangerous, and ignorant at best. This doesn't sound like what you're doing at all, and I'm sorry if I implied that you were.

I was just thinking about out where my parents live in rural Idaho, communities get together in "angry mobs" and try to eradicate entire species- usually wolves or rattlesnakes from the entire area- without them having hurt anything. The "beasts" they are so scared of and trying to eradicate never existed- they're a cultural myth that have virtually nothing in common with the animals they're killing, which are certainly a heck of a lot less dangerous than their human neighbors running around with weapons trying to "save the community" from some imaginary threat. I grew up in the country, and have always been fascinated by wolves, coyotes, spiders, and snakes- and have never found them dangerous or aggressive unless they're trying to defend themselves from some idiot killing them out of ignorant fear.
 

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I can understand keeping them out of your house, I do also. I was just taking in general about people who I've seen who own a lot of land, and go on a rampage trying to kill every snake and spider on it- which I think is counter-productive, dangerous, and ignorant at best. This doesn't sound like what you're doing at all, and I'm sorry if I implied that you were.

I was just thinking about out where my parents live in rural Idaho, communities get together in "angry mobs" and try to eradicate entire species- usually wolves or rattlesnakes from the entire area- without them having hurt anything. The "beasts" they are so scared of and trying to eradicate never existed- they're a cultural myth that have virtually nothing in common with the animals they're killing, which are certainly a heck of a lot less dangerous than their human neighbors running around with weapons trying to "save the community" from some imaginary threat. I grew up in the country, and have always been fascinated by wolves, coyotes, spiders, and snakes- and have never found them dangerous or aggressive unless they're trying to defend themselves from some idiot killing them out of ignorant fear.
I understand what you are saying and no, we are not like that. No one around is like what you describe. I wonder how the heck they could even find the time to go on a killing spree??? Most of these animals have a function and most are not dangerous. I would have a problem with wolves though as we have cattle and horses on the property.

But I want to give you another side to consider. It is something that has always bothered me about people in the city that are critical of the country and how we do things.

How many spiders or coyotes or snakes do you think your mob wiped out? Let's get really unrealistic and pretend it was half the entire population. I think that is very unrealistic as it would likely be vastly less, but that is ok.

Now, answer me, how many spiders and snakes and wolves and almost everyo other creature that inhabits this earth have YOU wiped about with your housing develpment after housing development, streets, highways, commercial buildings, parking lots, malls, chain stores, etc. And unlike the population above in the rural country, yours is (or will be) 100% complete and permanenet eradication of the species in your area. They ain't coming back. There is nothing for them to live on if they did. You wiped out their homes and their food sources. Planting "tree-for-tree" in some little wildlife preserve surrounded in concrete will not make up for it. Now ours might be intentional, but we live in harmony with the environment. We grow the food you eat. We watch how and where we tend our cattle or our gardens. We are shepperds.

Are you? A city cannot support itself and we can. We live within our environment and support yours. Now, who is the more compassionate and who is the most ruthless?

I am not picking on you, either. I believe your heart is in the right place and we pretty much agree. I just want you to see the hypocricy of your statement. It like when people tell me they are animal rights and vegetarians and have leather shoes on. Or when people squrim when we clean a deer or clean birds and consider us ruthless... yet they buy chickens and ground beef at the grocery store. If people had any idea what happened in those processing plants or the conditions in which those animals were raised, they would think we were saints and part of PETA.

I am not in any way trying to offend you, just some thougths to consider and my opinions.

- CD
 

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Well said CD. Most people don't realize they are in a glass houses before they start chucking rocks.
 

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Well... We put ashore in Turtle Bay on the NW side of Beausoleil a few weeks ago and ran into 3 of the Massasauga Rattlers.
Between them and the mosquitoes we didn't feel very welcome.
Now with word of the shortage we're going to skip going ashore for a while (we have 2 kids and a dog)
Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Our sidewinders aren't as coloful as yours. THey are a lighter brown. But, they are generally not aggressive either. At least, I have never known one to be. The only aggressive snake I am aware of is the Moccassin. I also did not know that the diamondback's venom was worse than a massasaugas. I assumed it was all the same. But again, I am no expert.

As far as the protected species, I guess I am of the opinion that you still have to manage the population... like florida with Gators. Now there is another creature you have to keep your eyes open for. We used to live in S Florida and they can be nasty little buggers. Florida also has rattlers and probably every other snake we have in Texas. You guys got it easy!

- CD
Yes, we have yet to lose a poodle to a gator on a golf course, and so far we've managed to avoid having pythons.
The coloration varies on the massasauga. It's background color is often a light grey, but the one I saw last week was was a buttery yellow and at first glance I thought it was a fox snake. The rattle and triangular head set me to rights.
Massasauga venom may well be as toxic as a diamondback (herpetologists, help me out here), but the snakes are much smaller and so the envenomation with their bite is also small and so not as deadly to humans. And something like 1 in 4 or 5 bites doesn't even deliver venom. What has always stuck with me is the advice that the bite is so intensely painful that sometimes not even morphine can beat it back. Experts advise people to wear boots, sock and long pants as a bite deterrent. So far their numbers are low enough that we don't have to do any culling, beyond the culling that already made them scarce in the first place.
 
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