Originally Posted By Bama-Shooter:
I didn't think you guys got rattlers that far north.
They're all over. Even have them in Michigan.
Michigan rattler kills 85-pound dog at Stanton home
By Ryon List - Daily News staff writer
STANTON -- When Janis Hoople learned that her 85-pound, black Labrador retriever had been killed by a rattlesnake bite in her backyard last week, she said she wasn't aware that type of venomous snake even existed in Stanton.
When an official with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) told her that the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, more commonly known as the Michigan rattler, was protected by the state, Hoople said she felt frustrated.
"They suggested we move it (the snake)," Hoople said of the DNR. "But where do we move it to?"
After a veterinarian in Grand Rapids told Hoople that her 5-year-old dog, Libby, had died as the result of a snakebite, Hoople called the DNR for questions about the massasauga and how to get rid of it. She was told it is against the law to kill the massasauga because it is protected by a DNR order. She also was told the DNR will not remove the snake from an area. Property owners are responsible for removal of the snake or having it removed.
Hoople lives in the country outside Stanton on Klees Road.
Lori Sargent, a wildlife biologist with the DNR, said larger dogs usually do not die from the massasauga's bite unless they suffer from complications from the rattlesnake's venom when bitten in the face or neck. Hoople said Libby was bitten on her front right shoulder last Wednesday and died a week ago today.
"It happens to smaller animals, but usually not larger animals," Sargent said.
She said animal deaths -- especially in larger animals -- from the massasauga bite are uncommon. Sargent also said records indicate the massasauga has not been responsible for a human death in Michigan, though people reportedly died after being bitten 40 years ago in Canada when they were not treated in a timely manner.
"They like to stay under cover and they're really a nonaggressive snake. They're not nearly as aggressive or poisonous as the western rattlesnakes," Sargent said. "If you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone. But I personally would not want one in my backyard either."
The massasauga is the only venomous snake in Michigan. It can be found throughout the Lower Peninsula, but not in the Upper Peninsula.
Yu Man Lee, a zoologist with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, part of the Michigan State University Extension office, said the snake's first instinct when approached is to hide.
"It tends to be pretty shy. Generally it tries to remain undetected," she said. "But it's harder for pets to avoid them because they like to poke around with their noses."
Lee said only a couple of people are bitten by the snake each year in Michigan and the effects can be treated. She said the number of pets bitten is difficult to determine. Usually those cases are not reported.
Lee also said many times when the massasauga bites it does not release venom.
Still, Hoople said she is concerned about other pets and especially children who might run across the massasauga in her neighborhood.
"I just find it kind of frustrating that they (the DNR) don't have any ways to control it," Hoople said.
Michigan rattler safety
Keep your distance and use caution.
Do not pick it up.
Keep all pets away.
If bitten, call 911 or your medical care provider.
If a pet is bitten, take it to a veterinarian.
Report all massasauga sightings to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at (517) 373-1263.
Eastern massasauga rattlesnake Michigan rattler
Michigan's only venomous snake, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake is a rare sight for most state residents. Historically they can be found in a variety of wetlands and nearby upland woods throughout the Lower Peninsula. An average length for an adult snake is 2 to 3 feet. Females give birth to 8 to 20 young during late summer.
During the late spring, the massasauga move from their winter hibernation sites, such as crayfish chimneys and other small mammal burrows in swamps and marshlands, to hunt on the drier upland sites -- likely in search of mice and voles, their favorite food.
The massasauga can be characterized as a shy, sluggish snake. Its thick body is colored with a pattern of dark brown, slightly rectangular patches set against a light gray to brown background. Occasionally this coloration can be so dark as to appear almost black. It is the only Michigan snake with segmented rattles on the end of its tail and elliptical -- cat-like -- vertical pupils in the eyes.
These rattlesnakes avoid confrontation with humans. They are not prone to strike, preferring to leave the area when threatened. Like any animal though, these snakes will protect themselves from anything they see as a potential predator. Their short fangs can easily puncture skin and they do possess a potent venom. The few bites that occur to humans often result from attempts to handle or kill the snakes. Any bite from a massasauga should receive prompt professional medical attention.
Massasaugas are found throughout the Lower Peninsula but not in the Upper Peninsula. They are becoming rare in many parts of their former range, throughout the Great Lakes area, due to wetland habitat loss and persecution by humans. They are listed as a "species of special concern" by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and are protected by state law.
When compared with other rattlesnakes found in the United States, the massasauga is the smallest and has the least toxic venom.
Source: State of Michigan
Source: State of Michigan
Staff writer Ryon List can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (616) 754-9303 ext. 3050.
False is the idea of utility... that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils, except the destruction of liberty.
- Thomas Jefferson