Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Heather's Corner: "The Snakes Are Out"

Just above my children's sand box is a low branch of an orange tree where a mama dove and her new hatchling have been residing for the past week. We've enjoyed watching the progress of this bird, building her nest, diligently egg-sitting, and now coo-ing at her pride and joy.  So it was with great horror that I happened upon a three foot king snake doing it's best to squeeze the daylights out of the helpless baby.

Luckily for my family, that snake is a non-poisonous species.  Luckily for the bird, I went into some kind of Commando trance and flung the snake out of the tree, picked it up with a shovel, and sent it on its way to the wash behind our house. This story ended well; the baby bird survived and my children think I'm a superhero, however, it is a reminder of one of those things I could do without living here in Southern Arizona: Snakes.

Yes! Yes! I know they are an important part of the eco-system and help keep other irritants like mice and varmints at bay but I just can't seem to make peace with sharing my yard with them or their yard with me. The varieties of which to share with are endless. Rattlesnakes alone have 15 different species here in Arizona, more than in any other state.

As snakes are most active during our warmer months and as that time is no upon us, I researched some important snake reminders.  Here's some of what I learned.

Rattlesnakes blend easily with their surroundings. Always carry a flashlight in the evening and watch where you will be placing your hands and feet.

Snakes are attracted to their vital resources including food, water, and shelter. This includes birds and rodents. Although bird feeders are nice, realize that they attract snakes. And take some time to fill up all those holes around your yard. Snakes are advantageous and like to take up residency in places already carved out for them.

Keep in mind that snakes can fit in a space the size of an inch so fences and walls must be snug against the ground and void of any holes the size of a quarter.

If you do encounter a rattlesnake or other venomous snake, move slowly and deliberately backward to a safe distance, preferably 6 feet and beyond. If you happen upon one in your yard there are several options:
  • Watch the snake as it is most likely just passing through 
  • Call the local fire department as they will sometimes assist with poisonous snake removal especially in close proximity to the home 
  • Contact a private company for removal under "Pest Control Services" in the phone book.
What to do if a rattlesnake bite occurs:
  • Remain calm and reassure the victim.
  • Remove all jewelry, watches, etc. from the affected area.
  • Immobilize the limb and keep at level below the heart. 
  • Decrease the total body activity as is feasible.
  • Move the victim to medical facility without delay. 
What NOT to do if a rattlesnake bite occurs:
  • Do NOT apply ice to bite area.
  • Do NOT use an incision of any kind.
  • Do NOT use a constriction band or tourniquet.
  • Do NOT administer alcohol or drugs.
  • Do NOT use electric shock treatment.
There is much to be grateful for living here in Oro Valley but the summer months can be tough with severe temperatures and the vast array of critters. So be mindful of where you step, hold tight for the next several months, and wish me luck that my superhero quota has been fulfilled for the season.

Any snake/creepy crawler stories you'd like to share?

Want to learn more?
Heather Nenadovich has lived in Oro Valley a total of five years. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. Her husband is Canadian so she is a hockey fan by default and so are her two very clever children. When not being a mommy, she enjoys hiking in Catalina State Park, hand building pottery, and gardening. Her favorite things about living in Oro Valley are the towns recognition of art and culture, their commitment to preserving nature and the Christmas parade. (Also anything from GMG Chinese Bistro.)

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