A little snake research ...

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by greenfarmers, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. greenfarmers

    greenfarmers Junior Member

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    Yes, I've done some digging since our little encounter with two wrestling brown snakes in our veggie patch and thought some snippets might be of interest.

    Many snakes show immunity to the venom of their own kind and king browns often eat other snakes including their own species. However, we think the snakes involved in our battle were eastern browns - see pics. Red bellied blacks will also often eat browns.

    from https://members.iinet.net.au/~bush/myth.html
    " Australia's snakes rarely envenom when biting defensively. Envenomation occurs in less than 1 in 10 bites (Sutherland & King, 1991: 1), or is it that a minority of people bitten experience systematic envenomation due to a hypersensitive reaction to the venom?"

    "Many of Australia's venomous snakes such as Pseudonaja spp. (brown snakes) do not even wait for their venom to immobilise prey. Instead, using constriction to restrain it, they often swallow it alive. I am of the opinion its primary purpose is digestion."
    "I can't help wondering, why has there been this preoccupation with the emphasis on exaggerating the danger of Australia's venomous snakes? Could it be that many of the researchers involved are government funded. They would have a vested interest in obtaining results that would most suit a favourable decision on continued funding. More people (21 v. 1.6) die each year in Australia from horse riding related accidents than snakebite. We do not go around hitting horses on the head with a shovel! Nor do we have as negative an attitude to Australia's deadliest venomous animal: the honeybee, an exotic introduced from Europe!! It causes an average of ten deaths per year.
    It presents the causes of snakebite believed to have resulted in 40 deaths in the past 27 years in Australia. An increased awareness of snakes through education and appropriate footwear could have reduced this by 20. A further reduction of 4 deaths may have been possible if it was illegal to kill snakes. The fact is that while the relevant wildlife authorities allow the killing of snakes they are directly contributing to the frequency of snakebite and therefore fatalities from this."

    "Australia's deadliest snakes are the brownsnakes (Pseudonaja spp.). Believed involved in 24 of the past 40 deaths attributed to snakebite
    Browns are quite common in the wheat and other grain growing areas and their numbers have multiplied to take advantage of the mice that follow the grain. Browns being rather slender snakes can get their heads down mouse burrows or into places where mice would otherwise be safe. The Browns eat all the mice meaning the whole family. After taking care of the larger mice they’ll consume all the baby mice. If the mother gets away and these baby mice were left then she would return and rear them. Within a few more weeks all the females would be pregnant and then they would of course, start to breed like mice. My belief is that without Brown snakes in Australia we would find it very difficult to grow any grain (cereal) crops at all. "

    We also keep injectable vitamin c serum in the fridge in case of snake bite to any of our animals. (we also used it to treat tick fever, poisonings etc ala the work of Pat Coleby) If you have an animal bitten by a snake and possibly you are not close to a vet, you might want to consider vitamin C - ideally injecting and then giving orally once the animal has recovered sufficiently. The following link offers a great description, although there are many others. Pat Coleby, in her book Natural Farming also described vitamin c treatment for a number of conditions, especially relating to cattle, horses, sheeps and goats. https://www.lowchensaustralia.com/health/vitc2.htm

    ??[​IMG]
    Here is a pic of our encounter - the larger snake has the other in its mouth.

    Heidi
     
  2. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Re: A little snake research ...

    Nice article Hiedi - I hope you were using a zoom to get the picture of the snake.

    I have "known" that snakes do not always inject and now you have researched it. Also that many bites occur when trying to kill the things.

    I do still get the jumps when I encounter one comming at me as I am weeding in the mandalas but I think the snakes get a bigger fright than me and they always go off after a bit of a sniff and deciding I am not on the a la carte.

    thanks for the post
     
  3. permasculptor

    permasculptor Junior Member

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    Re: A little snake research ...

    Last week I walked strait past a brown snake I was carrying a tray of seedlings and couldn't see in front of myself.I just heard something and looked back to see a tail rushing away we passed each other in a space no wider than 2 feet of which I was walking in the middle.in hindsight I'm glad I didn't see it coming.
     
  4. Dalzieldrin

    Dalzieldrin Junior Member

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    Re: A little snake research ...


    I can't help but wonder if these horse riding 'accidents' are not the result of equine researchers fabricating data to support their government funded research agendas. Maybe you're a shill for Big Horse?

    Who's exaggerating the danger of Australian snakes? They are dangerous, no exaggeration needed.
    That snakes get knocked on the head is deplorable - but it happens because of a deep-seated primal fear that's just as much a part of our evolution as walking upright. To suggest it's because there's been a deliberate programme of exaggerating the danger of being bitten (ie. what will likely happen to you if you are bitten) is nonsense. There was a time when being bitten was a death sentence - this is not necessarily the case these days...but it sure as heck doesn't mean that getting bitten isn't a dangerous exercise and one that is well worth avoiding.

    yes most venom research (at least in Australia) is government funded - maybe one day if you, your friends or family members, are ever in the unfortunate position of needing, say, an organ transplant you might also be in the fortunate position of being able to see that that money was very very very well spent.
     
  5. pteradactyl

    pteradactyl New Member

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    Re: A little snake research ...

    As I live in South Africa, I know nothing about Australian snakes. However, I have been studying those in the Southern African region for over forty years, so if there are any South Africans on the forum, this will be of interest to them. It may even be of benefit to other people around the world because, after all, a snake is a snake is a snake.
    Firstly, in this region, no snake that has stripes, or even a single stripe that runs down the length of the body is dangerous. This is not to say that all snakes that have stripes that run across the body are dangerous, because many of them are not.
    Of the 160 species and sub-species of snakes in the Southern African region, only 19 snakes are considered dangerous and of those, no more than 10 are considered deadly.
    Snakes are generally short-sighted and are thus attracted to movement. I have personally had several encounters with 'dangerous' snakes and have even been in a situation where an Egyptian cobra slithered over my sandal-clad feet whilst I was trying to capture it. The top half of my body was in motion, but my legs and feet were not, so the cobra did not see my legs and feet as a threat and did not attack them!
    I have taught my wife, Veronica, as much as she will absorb about snakes and she now displayes a remarkable lack of fear for these exquisite creatures. She will take from me any snake I hand to her and, when she encounters a snake in the garden, Veronica will stand still, study its markings and then describe it to me so that I can identify it for her. Veronica considers the Egg-eaters (Dasypeltis spp.) that prey on the occasional egg in her dove cages as 'cute' and permits them to eat their fill unmolested!
    Snakes bite for two reasons: because they are hungry and when they feel threatened or cornered. As we are too large to be considered prey for most snakes, the only reason they will bite humans is thus when they feel threatened or we step on them.
    Many snakes prey on rats and mice and are thus our greatest allies in the on-going battle against these rodents, which attack and contaminate our food stores.
    A great many species of snakes, even potentially deadly ones, will become accustomed to the movement of people around them and, if they are not molested, will became quite 'tame' and live in harmony with people: I once met an elderly, blind woman who moved about her home in bare feet. She asked me to remove my shoes and since she was not a member of any esoteric religion, I asked her the reason for this. She replied that a large snake had been sharing the house with her for a number of years and, as they were great friends, she did not want it to be harmed. It generally indicated its presence by hissing loudly and slithering over her feet. On that particular day the snake had climbed up onto a kitchen work surface and while she made us coffee, the snake, which turned out to be a two-metre-long Egyptian cobra, moved around her, permitted her to stroke it and even let me tickle it under the 'chin'.
    "I don't have a rat problem, you know," she commented, "even though my neighbours are forever complaining about them. I also do not have many visitors and that can be such a blessing. My children wanted to move in with me and bring my grand children with them, but at my age, all I want is peace and quiet. They soon changed their minds when they saw my snake and I refused to get rid of it. You are not afraid of snakes, are you?"
    I replied that this was so.
    "Then you are a good man: my snake can tell, you know. He once chased a gang of robbers out of my house when they wanted to rob me. That is one sight I wish that I could have seen!"
     
  6. greenfarmers

    greenfarmers Junior Member

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    Re: A little snake research ...

    Dalzieldrin -- not sure if you realised I was quoting from an article on the net, referenced at the start.

    Perhaps I also read the article a little differently to you.

    I interpreted the shovel reference as more tongue in cheek. The comparison of death rates from horses and bee stings was for me a reminder similar to the "you've got more chance of being hit by a bus" analogy we often use. You could use any number of other issues - driving a car, riding a bicycle, eating processed food - you can die from them all and more people obviously do die from conditions associated with those things than snake bites. I am sorry if this triggered something personal for you.

    I think I also interpreted the reference to "exaggerating the dangers" differently. For me, the piece was simply about putting the danger back into proportion. It brought home the need for me to remember that snakes are not, on the scale of it, something I need to be paranoid about when I go into my garden. (Not saying we do not need to be on the look out). It did, however, freak me out that they are highly dangerous and I knew little about how they operate - ie if I'm planting in my garden, will that big brown snake come looking for me because I am in his territory? That's why I went trawling through the net and looking for information from books and experienced others. Appreciating that alot of what you read is not fact, I still felt reassured by what I learnt.

    Again, I think I interpreted things differently. I agree - people kill snakes because they are terrified of them. But isn't that why we're having this discussion? I felt vulnerable - that's why I went looking to learn about what were the real dangers and what was just my fear.

    It can be easy to get hung up on the 'dangers', mainly because so many snakes are deadly (agreed). But I have been reminded they are also mostly incredibly timid, and in all but a few cases will flee if given the chance.

    And I liked to be reminded about the part snakes to play in rat and mouse control. When I walk into my veggie patch now I have set up a big piece of steel to 'clang' and I greet the snakes. Yes, they're there and I'm letting them know I am too - then hopefully there is less chance of us surprising each other.

    Call me naive? Maybe ... but I feel more confident and aware now of how to react to my snakes -- and killing them is not something that I need to do. They keep a balance (hey, that brown just killed another for me, so one less ;) and I can actually see a little bit of positive ... a few less mice too maybe.

    A little education goes a long way.

    In peace,

    Heidi
     
  7. Dalzieldrin

    Dalzieldrin Junior Member

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    Re: A little snake research ...

    G'day Heidi - great response. I'm guessing you saw there was a wee bit of tongue in contact with cheek in my response - on rereading what i posted it did come off as a tad, um, harsh - sorry about that.

    agree with you about perceptions to snakes

    can i ask though - when you say you got a bit of steel that you clang...do you mean to make sound? you know that snakes are deaf?
    i guess some sound vibration would reach them via air but I'd have thought you're on a better bet thumping the ground with your steel. I stomp my feet to announce my presence...I'm told this is something browns (king browns??) actually don't like and rather than warm them off it makes them aggressive. I wonder if someone call fill in the gaps on this one for us.

    peace back at you
     
  8. greenfarmers

    greenfarmers Junior Member

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    Re: A little snake research ...

    Morning,

    That was another thing I learnt -- yes, snakes are deaf!

    My piece of steel that I clang is a star picket, so when hitting it with another short length I get a good vibration through the ground. Thumping a shovel on the ground would go the same.

    I also had a chat to a snake catcher friend. He says browns are quite blind, so if you happen to be a little too close to extract yourself and you truly believe the snake has not seen you (big judgement call there!) then the best thing to do it to freeze. He tells the story of releasing a big brown. His heavily pregnant wife was standing some distance away, but as fate would have it, the snake made a beeline for her. She knew to freeze. It went up her leg, then turned, went a short distance away, then came back straight past her, before heading into the bush. So stand still! A bit hairy for me, that story.

    I was also pondering a little incident a few years back. My brother and his wife - a singer - spent their honeymoon on our old farm. He was asleep, so not wanting to disturb him, she took her guitar and harmonica down the hill and sat playing in the bush. Lost in her music, she looked up to see a snake swaying to the rhythm .... was it the vibration from the harp maybe?

    Heidi
     
  9. Dalzieldrin

    Dalzieldrin Junior Member

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    Re: A little snake research ...

    banging steel - gocha

    I've heard that about freezing, too. they're not seeing you as a hooman, but an object that's either moving (and is a danger) or isn't. if i froze, it would be through abject terror...and then, maybe the resultant smell might scare the blighter away ;-)

    freaky about the music! maybe combination of git-fiddle and harp?
     
  10. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Re: A little snake research ...

    Great post greenfarmers I have learnt lots and it was great too to get confirmation on things I knew and suspected.

    Well done Dalzieldrin for a positive response to greenfarmers work and research. I thought your were just an argumentative poster but I am happy to be so wrong - sorry.
     
  11. greenfarmers

    greenfarmers Junior Member

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    Re: A little snake research ...

    Hello pteradactyl ...

    We have sat here in wonderment at your lovely story of the old woman - it touched a special place in my heart too because I grew up in east Africa and such stories are very much a part of 'African' life. As kids we also 'kept' snakes as pets -- I would board the plane to return to boarding school with mine in a snake bag in my pocket, then use it to terrorise the teachers! Such is Africa.

    Your story was also a classic example of the contrast between those who are in touch with their environment and do not feel so threatened by it - even co-existing peacefully with other so called 'dangerous' creatures ... and then how far removed many city dwellers and others have become ... all stressed and defensive at every turn, killing anything they perceive as a threat, including innocent men.

    Give me the connected, removed from the rat-race life any day!

    Interesting too about the stripes - will keep it in mind when reading the snake book here to see if it also applies.

    Thanks again for your lovely post, enjoy Africa ....

    Heidi
     

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