Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday Roundup Returns: Rattlesnakes in Alabama, Mississippi, and...Afghanistan?

Just Keep Going: Want to reduce your chances of being bit by a venomous snake? Don't go out of your way to catch, harass, or kill any. And if you get bit while you are at work, don't expect your employer to pay for your medical expenses. As an Alabama appellate recently stated in reference to a snakebit logger, "The snake on the roadway posed no risk - occupational or otherwise - ... so long as he (the individual in question) remained in the vehicle in which he was riding..."

A Tough Call: So many rattlesnakes are killed for no good reason. But, sometimes I at least understand where the people are coming from. An Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Crotalus adamanteus, was recently spotted in Hurley, Mississippi very close to a middle school, a high school, and a softball field. My suspicion is that if the snake was left alone, nobody would have ever seen it again. However, we will never know, because the snake was killed after being run over and then shot in a ditch (future potential snake killers, please see above). The newspaper reported that the rattlesnake (on the right) was five feet long. I don't think so and neither should you. 

This is unfortunate all-around. Although this species of rattlesnake once ranged through Mississippi to Louisiana, they are now very rare in both states and imperiled throughout their range.

Are Rattlesnakes Expanding Their Ranges...To Afghanistan? Last month a newspaper reported a story about a Canadian family hiking through the woods in Barrie, Ontario, when they heard an unmistakable rattling. Rattlesnakes rattle to alert others of their presence so conflict can be avoided but that doesn't make for a very good story. So, this article goes for the angle of the family dog fighting off an aggressive snake to save its family (we've heard that before). But that's not what got my attention. The article mentions that one of the family members had received training about dangerous animals before he was deployed to Afghanistan and apparently rattlesnakes were on the list. Huh? One of the things that make a rattlesnake encounter so amazing is that wild rattlesnakes are found only in North and South America. Finding a rattlesnake in Afghanistan would be like finding a panda in Alabama (or maybe an Anaconda). The article goes on to say that Afghanistan locals frequently cut the rattles off of rattlesnakes; many of these rattles were apparently shown to this Canadian dude while he was on active duty. I would love for someone to please explain to me what the heck is going on here.

Finally: I recently attended the World Congress of Herpetology in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and had the good fortune to meet and/or reconnect with several fellow bloggers, including Andrew Durso, Trailblazer, Melissa Amarello, David Steinberg, and Bree Putman (I didn't actually meet Bree but I enjoyed her presentation). Did I forget anybody? If you haven't already visited their blogs, please do so now.

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