Big Bend Chat

Big Bend National Park Q&A => Hiking the Mountains => Topic started by: alan in shreveport on September 05, 2018, 07:25:40 AM

Title: Snake Question
Post by: alan in shreveport on September 05, 2018, 07:25:40 AM
My wife and I are going hiking in Utah in a couple of weeks and she asked me to get a snake bite kit. Seemed like a good idea, I've been thinking about doing that for my BB trips  anyway. After doing some "internet research" it seems snake bite kits are out of favor these days - they do no good and possibly do some harm.

So, now I'm thinking about leggings. I've never hiked in snake leggings so I'm a little leary.  Any thoughts on these ? Any particular brand or type  that might be better for desert use ?

Thanks folks.

Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: tjavery on September 05, 2018, 07:54:58 AM
I've been wondering the same thing myself. I look forward to the answers to come.
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: Hang10er on September 05, 2018, 08:08:49 AM
I got nothing on snake leggings, but I would offer this thought.  I think I actually put this out one time before regarding hiking boots or something.

I was in Okinawa for a few years and spent most of my time surfing over sharp shallow reefs loaded with urchins.  I purchased some booties to help protect against the spines of the urchins.  Now and then I'd forget them and surfed barefooted.  I noticed I usually got fewer urchins and cuts when I didn't have them.  I attributed this to the fact that with booties, I relied on their protection and I walked over the reef without much care or concern.  Without them, I was careful and paid more attention to my steps and actually tried to stay on my board, paddling a lot more.

My point being, even with leggings, you still have to be careful.  You can't strap them on and walk haphazardly through high grass and stick your feet in rocky holes, etc.  Not that I think you would,   
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: mule ears on September 05, 2018, 08:19:27 AM
The information you found about snake bite kits/extractors is correct, not the way to deal with snake bites today. 

As to leggings I have not experience but I would say that snakes are not a thing to worry about in Utah, there are some but not like Texas.
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: RichardM on September 05, 2018, 08:36:22 AM
I haven't worn any myself, but then I don't get to spend much time out in the wild these days.

I use Turtleskin gaiters pretty much every time I am out. I do a lot of off-trail hiking and have a lot of snake encounters and these gaiters let me walk through the brush with impunity. They are pricing, but they are also pretty much impervious. Catclaw, pitaya, prickly pear,... nothing gets through.

http://www.turtleskin.com/Snake-Gaiters.aspx
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: dprather on September 05, 2018, 10:25:33 AM
Amatures!

The man reports that that "she (his wife) asked me to get a snake bite kit."  His problem has very little to do with the actual usefulness of a snake bite kit.  His problem has to do with soothing the fears of his wife. 

Regardless of what our society says about the sameness of men and women, the fact remains that most men are more logical  and most women are more emotional in their primary approaches to decision making.

Experienced husbands are not being crass or condescending  when they buy a useless little something just to make their wives feel better.   

Buy the silly little kit and enjoy the hike. 

Better yet, GOOGLE "snake bite kits," show her the ones that are available, and let her select the prettiest one.

GEEZE - are none of you guys married??
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: RichardM on September 05, 2018, 10:43:53 AM
Amatures!

The man reports that that "she (his wife) asked me to get a snake bite kit."  His problem has very little to do with the actual usefulness of a snake bite kit.  His problem has to do with soothing the fears of his wife. 

Regardless of what our society says about the sameness of men and women, the fact remains that most men are more logical  and most women are more emotional in their primary approaches to decision making.

Experienced husbands are not being crass or condescending  when they buy a useless little something just to make their wives feel better.   

Buy the silly little kit and enjoy the hike. 

Better yet, GOOGLE "snake bite kits," show her the ones that are available, and let her select the prettiest one.

GEEZE - are none of you guys married??
Well, not any more...
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: presidio on September 05, 2018, 02:01:13 PM
Better yet, GOOGLE "snake bite kits," show her the ones that are available, and let her select the prettiest one.

Nope, go to Home Depot and get a couple pieces of 6" single-wall exhaust flue.

Slide over legs.

You're good to go.

For additional style get enough pipe and a metal funnel so you can be the Tin Man tromping around Big Bend.

With care and stealth (as long as you don't clink and clank too much) you can be the metallic version of Big Foot, otherwise known as Sassy Squash by Texans unable to properly pronounce Sasquatch.

BIBETM (the TM for Tin Man, obviously). Rumored to exist, seen in grainy photos, but never actually proven.

When eventually captured by the funny hatters for traipsing about without all the permits, tell them to get a heart and be nice.
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: Losthiker68 on September 05, 2018, 06:52:37 PM
I've got a background in herpetology, did my master's thesis on the subject. I've spent a lot of time actively looking for snakes and still saw very few. Most of the time, we had to make an effort to locate them by flipping large rocks or rolling over downed wood.

According to the quick search I did, Utah has either 4 or 7 venomous snake species, depending how you count (3 of them are subspecies of Crotalus viridis). All of them are rattlesnakes. Nearly all of the rattlesnakes I've dealt with (mostly Western Diamondbacks) have just wanted to get away. The only one that got aggressive with us was protecting young (one of only 2 species of snake in the US that does so).

Honestly, the weight of snake leggings just isn't worth it. Just use your eyes, ears, and your "sixth sense" to avoid them. Don't put your hands or feet anywhere you can't see. If you get a gut feeling that says to avoid a shrub, rock, or patch of grass, avoid it.

And I agree with dprather, useless though it may be, get the snake bite kit for peace of mind. Read up on field care for snake bite just in case but always seek medical attention if its a rattler - the venom may not kill you directly but it'll destroy the flesh around the bite if not dealt with properly and that invites all kinds of infection.
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: mule ears on September 05, 2018, 07:11:04 PM
I have an old Cutter snake bite kit that I could paint pink and mail it to you.;-)

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Big Bend Chat mobile app (http://r.tapatalk.com/byo?rid=88143)

Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: RichardM on September 05, 2018, 07:18:29 PM
For the record, I found the razor in my old Cutter Snake Bite Kit to be quite useful back in my Boy Scout days for digging out splinters when I couldn't find my tweezers. Go ahead and buy one, just don't use anything other than the antiseptic if you get bit. Better still, don't get bit. ;)
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: Hookim on September 05, 2018, 08:07:21 PM
Guys, I've been to Big Bend in the winter and every month from April to August and have yet to hear or see a rattler (there, or any other place, for that matter). Honestly, that was initially one of my biggest fears in backpacking alone, but it's proven to be for naught. Not to say that I've gotten cocky - I'm still aware like losthiker68 recommends. I'm for regular ol' hiking pants, caution, and a soap and water cleanse if bit until proper medical attention can be sought.

Have fun in UT! I'll be doing a half marathon in Zion first week of October and scurrying around those parts for a few days.
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: alan in shreveport on September 05, 2018, 09:14:12 PM
Thanks for the tips - think I'll pass on the stove pipe though. 
For the record, I've been to BBNP more times than I can remember and to the Ranch several times  and never saw a Rattler until my last 2 trips. Saw one on the porch at the bunkhouse at Sauceda last Nov. (western diamondback) who rattled a little , I guess we got too close, before slithering away into the walls of the bunkhouse !   And on my last trip to the National Park in May I saw a Banded Rock rattler crossing the Boot Canton Trail in perfect position to be stepped on but I saw him in time. He was not interested in me, just crossing the path. I'm not overly concerned with them but if a snakebite kit was useful (apparently not) it would be easy enough to carry. The leggings seem too cumbersome, at least for what we have in mind. I may rethink that before my next trip to the ranch (Nov.) per Ranger Tim's old post (thanks Richard).
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: Casa Grande on September 05, 2018, 10:22:46 PM
Better yet, GOOGLE "snake bite kits," show her the ones that are available, and let her select the prettiest one.

Nope, go to Home Depot and get a couple pieces of 6" single-wall exhaust flue.

Slide over legs.

You're good to go.

For additional style get enough pipe and a metal funnel so you can be the Tin Man tromping around Big Bend.

With care and stealth (as long as you don't clink and clank too much) you can be the metallic version of Big Foot, otherwise known as Sassy Squash by Texans unable to properly pronounce Sasquatch.

BIBETM (the TM for Tin Man, obviously). Rumored to exist, seen in grainy photos, but never actually proven.

When eventually captured by the funny hatters for traipsing about without all the permits, tell them to get a heart and be nice.
Classic Presidio.

Sent from my Note 8 using Big Bend Chat mobile app (http://r.tapatalk.com/byo?rid=88143)

Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: Casa Grande on September 05, 2018, 10:24:21 PM
Amatures!

The man reports that that "she (his wife) asked me to get a snake bite kit."  His problem has very little to do with the actual usefulness of a snake bite kit.  His problem has to do with soothing the fears of his wife. 

Regardless of what our society says about the sameness of men and women, the fact remains that most men are more logical  and most women are more emotional in their primary approaches to decision making.

Experienced husbands are not being crass or condescending  when they buy a useless little something just to make their wives feel better.   

Buy the silly little kit and enjoy the hike. 

Better yet, GOOGLE "snake bite kits," show her the ones that are available, and let her select the prettiest one.

GEEZE - are none of you guys married??
Exactly.  I had to purchase one for my first wife when she first went out to the park with me.  We had a great time.

Sent from my Note 8 using Big Bend Chat mobile app (http://r.tapatalk.com/byo?rid=88143)

Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: dprather on September 05, 2018, 10:31:23 PM
Question: why would there be more snakes in the Bend than in Utah?
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: presidio on September 05, 2018, 11:24:51 PM
Question: why would there be more snakes in the Bend than in Utah?

A few reasons that come to mind:

a) warmer climate, especially in winter, thus longer active periods and greater opportunity to encounter
b) more prey
c) more cover (the Chihuahuan Desert is absolutely lush compared to other deserts and arid areas
d) more varied biomes and habitats; a lot of regions converge in or near Big Bend
e) water!; much of the water in Utah is in deep, relatively inaccessible canyons
f) the Chihuahuan Desert is one of the richest and most varied of plant and animal communities to be found anywhere; forests are relatively sterile by comparison
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: mule ears on September 06, 2018, 06:32:05 AM
Question: why would there be more snakes in the Bend than in Utah?

A few reasons that come to mind:

a) warmer climate, especially in winter, thus longer active periods and greater opportunity to encounter
b) more prey
c) more cover (the Chihuahuan Desert is absolutely lush compared to other deserts and arid areas
d) more varied biomes and habitats; a lot of regions converge in or near Big Bend
e) water!; much of the water in Utah is in deep, relatively inaccessible canyons
f) the Chihuahuan Desert is one of the richest and most varied of plant and animal communities to be found anywhere; forests are relatively sterile by comparison

I concur, especially a and e
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: rocketman on September 06, 2018, 08:48:36 PM
Wouldn't a rattlesnake be able to access deep, relatively inaccessible canyons? It may be that people can't access the snakes in the canyons, which is generally a good thing but it doesn't mean there are more snakes in the Bend. Could be quite the opposite.

For the record, I am NOT a herpetologist so I am merely speculating from a layman's point of view and trying to learn. I would welcome an expert opinion on my hypothesis or a pointer to studies in this area.
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: dprather on September 06, 2018, 10:07:32 PM
Like rocketman, I am a layman.  I asked my question because I was puzzled.  As usual, the experts on BBC came through with thought-provoking answers.  Thanks.

It seems to this layman that a little balance might be needed.  While running across rattlers is rare, it does happen (in ten years of BB backpacking I have run across two). 

I wouldn't want anyone to be overwhelmed by irrational fears, but I wouldn't want anyone to be so unconcerned that they did not practice the great advice given by losthiker: "use your eyes, ears, and your "sixth sense" to avoid them. Don't put your hands or feet anywhere you can't see. If you get a gut feeling that says to avoid a shrub, rock, or patch of grass, avoid it."
Title: Re: Snake Question
Post by: mule ears on September 07, 2018, 05:48:23 AM
Like rocketman, I am a layman.  I asked my question because I was puzzled.  As usual, the experts on BBC came through with thought-provoking answers.  Thanks.

It seems to this layman that a little balance might be needed.  While running across rattlers is rare, it does happen (in ten years of BB backpacking I have run across two). 

I wouldn't want anyone to be overwhelmed by irrational fears, but I wouldn't want anyone to be so unconcerned that they did not practice the great advice given by losthiker: "use your eyes, ears, and your "sixth sense" to avoid them. Don't put your hands or feet anywhere you can't see. If you get a gut feeling that says to avoid a shrub, rock, or patch of grass, avoid it."

This above is the important information for sure.

 Just anecdotal but having lived in and hiked in Utah, snakes have never been a real topic of discussion or concern, I think I have seen 1 rattlesnake there ever and maybe the only snake I have ever seen there.  In Big Bend I have only seen a few garter snakes, a milk snake and 1 rattler but then I have only hiked in the cool seasons too.