A 53-year old man learned his lesson the hard way when a 5-foot rattler slithered onto his central Washington property, about 50 miles southeast of Yakima. Apparently, he was unaware of past rattlesnake research, which shows that a severed rattlesnake head will try to attack objects waved in front of it for up to an hour after death. The man and his son pinned the snake with an irrigation pipe and then cut off its head with a shovel. A few more strikes to the head left it sitting under a pickup truck. But that’s not the end of the story.
“When I reached down to pick up the head, it raised around and did a backflip almost, and bit my finger,” Anderson said. “I had to shake my hand real hard to get it to let loose.” His wife, who obviously is the brains of the family, insisted they go to the hospital. By the time they arrived at Prosser Memorial Hospital 10 minutes later, Anderson’s tongue was swollen and the venom was spreading. He then was taken by ambulance 30 miles to a Richland hospital to get the full series of six shots he needed.
A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist noted that the area where the Anderson’s live is near prime snake habitat. In fact, a good number of the people in the U.S. live in “prime” snake habitat. There are so many different species of snakes that there is a very good chance one of the species prefers exactly where you live.
The bite received by the man is the end result of a reflex action, triggered by infrared sensors in the “pit organ” of the snake. This structure is located between the nostril and eye it detects body heat. Rattlesnakes hunt by sensing heat, not smell. Of course, the snake’s body has touch sensors that can also trigger a reaction after death.
As such, there have been reports over time where headless bodies have jumped, “striking” unsuspecting observers with only its headless body. A dead snake still has many of the reflexes it had when it was alive. My suggestion, if you happen to come across a rattlesnake, dead or alive, leave it alone. And given that rattlesnakes rarely attack people unless they are provoked, any complications can be avoided by people feeling the need to kill them in the first place. Besides, it’s bad karma.
1. Family – The rattlesnakes are related to Viper or Viperidae family.
2. Species – There are a total of approximately 30 different species of rattlesnakes such as the Guianian rattlesnake and the Western pygmy rattlesnake.
3. Poison – The most poisonous rattlesnake is the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake.
4. Life span – The average rattlesnake has a life span of an amazing 20 years!
5. Length – The average rattlesnake growths to a length of 1 meter to 2.4 meters.
6. Habitat – Rattlesnakes usually inhabit areas such as deserts, forests, mountains and dry areas, although some rattlesnakes, such as the Eastern Diamondback prefer more humid environments.
7. Rattle – The rattle of a rattlesnake can be heard around 60 feet away!