No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Did you ever go out of your way to do something nice only to have it bite you in the butt? Well how about a bite from a rattlesnake? According the Miami Herald, a man stopped on a major interstate to help a stranded turtle cross the road. When placing the turtle on the grass out of harm’s way, the man was bitten by the venomous Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake. Luckily his friend was able to drive him to Memorial Regional Hospital where he was treated with antivenin.
Eastern Diamondbacks are beautiful snakes! Their pattern is a brownish-yellow-gray color to help them blend into the ground, and is overlaid with a series of 24-35 dark brown to black diamonds with slightly lighter centers. They are the largest rattlesnake in North America and are only found in the extreme Southwest United States. Despite the crazy photos on the internet they are not as big as they sometimes appear in photos, averaging five and a half feet in length when fully grown. Like all rattlesnakes, they do not bite humans unless they feel threatened; a bite is the last line of defence for an animal that relies heavily on its camouflage and cautionary rattle to keep itself safe. During colder weather they inhabit mammal or gopher tortoise burrows and emerge to bask in vegetation when it’s sunny and warm.
In Ontario we only have one venomous snake, the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, which lives predominantly around the Georgian Bay area. Our Massasauga rattlesnake’s venom is nowhere near as dangerous as the venom from a Diamondback, but it’s still important to be careful when you’re in their habitat and seek medical attention in the event of a bite. In the world of rattlesnakes, ours is considered a pygmy rattlesnake, averaging only 20-30 inches in length as an adult. Seeing a Massasuaga is a very exciting thing, these animals are considered Threatened in Ontario and as a result are rarely encountered. One of their biggest threats is human persecution; many people do not like snakes, and as a result will kill them with complete disregard to the important role they play in the ecosystem. You can learn more about the Massasauga here, and hopefully with a little understanding and respect we can learn to live alongside these fascinating creatures.