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Old 07-16-2007, 01:25 PM   #1
CaLculAted Risk
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Rattlesnakes



While putting together info for my climbing date for this fall, I ran across some information that there are rattlesnakes in the Adirondacks.

I was under the mistaken impression that rattlesnakes were only found west and south of NYS.

So now with this new wildlife to be wary of, I had a few questions.

1) Are the Adirondack rattlesnakes the same poisonous species as the rest of the country?

2) If a hiker/climber is bitten by a rattlesnake is a shot (or several) on anti-venom required? Do the rangers have anti-venom? Do hikers/climbers carry anti-venom with them?


I know the odds of getting bitten by a rattlesnake are low if a hiker/climber exercises due care and keeps their presence in the back of their minds, but I wanted to be fully prepared in case fate frowns upon me as it has so many times in my past...

Also, I was not going to bring a walking staff with me for the climb, but now, I think it would be prudent to have a long staff/pole/hiking stick with me to probe suspicious areas before passing through them...


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Old 07-16-2007, 01:38 PM   #2
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I believe they are shy & scarce. I haven't see on and I don't worry about them.

I worry more about ticks & bees.
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Old 07-16-2007, 01:54 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Rickie View Post
I believe they are shy & scarce.
You may be correct, however when searching for hikes/climbs aound Lake George I came across this website: http://www.lakegeorge.com/hiking.cfm

Quote:
TONGUE MOUNTAIN RANGE - Note there are many rattlesnakes in this area.
This was not the only website I came across that mentioned that there were alot of rattlesnakes in this area. I am making the presumption that if they are going out of their way to mention it, rattlesnakes might have a decent population in at least the Tongue mountain range. Stating that, I see no reason why a strong population of snakes would not spread to other Adirondack areas...


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Old 07-16-2007, 02:00 PM   #4
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I have seen three in the Adirondacks. All on Tongue Mountain Range. I have seen one in the Catskills on Overlook Mt.
Personally I won't bring my dogs to Tongue in the summer months. I'm not too worried about myself while on the trail but off trail I would be very careful and it is just not worth the stress of worrying about the dog (or a child) while I"m out hiking. Just watch where you step. No anti-venom carried by me and I wouldn't let it keep me from hiking in an area I just won't bring the dogs or small kids.

Here in the northeast they are Timber Rattlers.
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:22 PM   #5
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Tongue mountain is one of my favorite hikes and I highly recommend it. But keep the young ones on a leash. I was dashing down one of the 5 peaks several years ago when I heard that famous rattling sound a few feet in front of me. A rattler was copping some z's right on the trail and I woke him/her up I think. Had he/she not rattled, I would have stepped right on him/her and we all would have been really unhappy after that . I would not let this deter me from hiking there, but be aware they are there and be careful. These snakes are very shy and will not bother you unless you step on them. I do not know about snake bite kits, sounds like a good idea, I would check into it. I did not have any snake bite meds with me, which was probably stupid in retrospec. I have no idea why they only hang around Lake George. Maybe log undersides are too expensive elsewhere ?
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:54 PM   #6
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Since the members of this forum, on a whole, constitutes hundreds of years, and thousands of miles of hiking in the Adirondacks, and rattlesnakes do not seem to be a concern, I would not worry about them.

I just recently came from an area (South Dakota) where rattlesnakes are common, and while I had my concerns, my precautions were to carry a snake bite kit and watch where I stepped.

So, if I were you, I would take along a snake bite kit to allay my fears and enjoy my outdoor experience.

Have a great hike!!!
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Old 07-16-2007, 03:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaLculAted Risk View Post


While putting together info for my climbing date for this fall, I ran across some information that there are rattlesnakes in the Adirondacks.

I was under the mistaken impression that rattlesnakes were only found west and south of NYS.

So now with this new wildlife to be wary of, I had a few questions.

1) Are the Adirondack rattlesnakes the same poisonous species as the rest of the country?

2) If a hiker/climber is bitten by a rattlesnake is a shot (or several) on anti-venom required? Do the rangers have anti-venom? Do hikers/climbers carry anti-venom with them?


I know the odds of getting bitten by a rattlesnake are low if a hiker/climber exercises due care and keeps their presence in the back of their minds, but I wanted to be fully prepared in case fate frowns upon me as it has so many times in my past...

Also, I was not going to bring a walking staff with me for the climb, but now, I think it would be prudent to have a long staff/pole/hiking stick with me to probe suspicious areas before passing through them...


-
i have only heard about them in tongue mtns too. i have not seen one there however and hiked many many times--all with a dog. never had a problem. would not let it bothr me, wouldnt even think about it.
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Old 07-16-2007, 03:29 PM   #8
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Unless you're in the Tongue's....

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaLculAted Risk View Post
Stating that, I see no reason why a strong population of snakes would not spread to other Adirondack areas...


-

Unless you're hiking the tongue range, it's quite safe to presume that you won't see any rattlesnakes. There may be some small isolated groups farther north (I think I remember hearing stories of past populations in/near Westport? Maybe Lyon Mountain? Not sure though, and I don't even remember where I heard it), but you'd never see one in the mountains. I'd be very surprised if anyone chimes in claiming to have seen them anywhere else in the adk's.

I saw my first wild rattlesnake last year while hiking the tongue range. We were about a mile from the car, having almost completed the loop. Startled the heck out of me, and the bugger did NOT want to move, even when we retreated back down the trail and gave him some time. Finally we realized that he was intent on sitting on that trail for awhile, so we climbed the bank and went around him. Good times
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Old 07-16-2007, 07:31 PM   #9
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Timber rattlesnakes in the Adirondacks are at the northernmost extent of their range, and they are found in two primary locations: the Tongue Range and Split Rock (on Lake Champlain). The Tongue Range is unique even among the mountains of Lake George because they have their own microclimate, somewhat warmer than most other Adirondack mountains--which are too cold for rattlers.

According to DEC, the rattlers are active from May to September. They hibernate the rest of the year. I have hiked the range multiple times the last few years in spring and late fall, and I've never had a problem. Supposedly, you would have to WANT to be bitten by one... although I've never had the chance to test it out!

The Tongue Range is definitely the best, most rugged hike in the Lake George basin, with First Peak and French Point Mountain being (for me) the best parts. That said, if you're hiking with kids as you've stated in the other thread, I highly recommend Buck Mountain and/or Sleeping Beauty.
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Old 07-16-2007, 08:11 PM   #10
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I was searching for pictures and information on the Tongue Range a couple years ago and found these pictures from a Skidmore College group. There are some snake pictures.

I also think it is a great hike.

http://www.skidmore.edu/~kmarsell/sc...2/snakes2.html
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Old 07-17-2007, 08:56 PM   #11
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NY Rattlesnake Experience

I used to encounter rattlesnakes while growing up in the Southern Tier near Corning, close to the PA line. This was years before the DEC officially talked about rattlesnakes, but no one in my area seemed to worry about it much.

For the most part, I found the snakes in the open only on very sunny spots in the very middle of a trail, on a rock wall sunning, or sunning on a paved road of sorts. They'll rattle their tales a bit, but they seem to do this as a lazy response and won't really even re-position themselves as long as you go around them.

I think the only way you'd really compromise your safety is in a boulder field or a somewhat flat craggy area which is exposed to the elements without shade cover like trees. Snakes would love to sneak out for a sunning, then cover themselves just under a shelf or a crack. An errant hand while scrambling might find your body parts within a foot or two with nowhere to quickly escape while the snake gives you its warning.

I'd say your chances of finding a snake on a heavily forested trail to be nil. Open sunny areas, be aware but carefree. Flat craggy areas where you are moving slowly and perhaps not on two legs, be very very cautious. Once you climb up a bit in elevation, of course, no worries--snakes want to be where the food and water is!
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Old 07-17-2007, 09:07 PM   #12
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So, anyone seen any Copperheads in the adks ?

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Old 07-17-2007, 10:46 PM   #13
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We've seen rattlesnakes twice at Lake George--both times on West Dollar Island. Apparently they swim over to some of the islands when the supply of mice is low in the mountains.

Once some folks having a picnic on West Dollar called the rangers about a rattlesnake on the island. Two boats arrived to take care of the situation. The first boat had two men from the sheriff's dept. They marched, guns drawn, across the island looking for the poor snake. We were standing near the outhouse, taking pictures of the snake, when they arrived. We were a little surprised to see the show of force and were glad when a DEC boat came with two guys and a DEC ranger. The ranger carried a big trash can and a "snake grabber." The ranger walked up to the snake and used the grabber to put the snake in the trash can. She told us that they would tag the snake (fingernail polish on the rattler's tail) and return it to Tongue Mt.

On several trips to Tongue Mt. we never saw any snakes but did see some rattlesnake scat. It's really long! The only precautions we took were to watch where we stepped and not put our hands on rock ledges without looking first. I worry about lots of stuff--but not about rattlesnakes.

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Old 07-18-2007, 07:38 AM   #14
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We have rattlers on the PA NY border.. rarely any contact..

rattlers - around here anyway - seem pretty benvolent and if you heed the "don't tread on me" mantra.. life and hiking should be good..

I enjoy seeing them.. but it has been but twice in several decades of outdoor activity..

which includes a job in the outdoors - pipelining -

as someone else already posted.. bees kill many more people..

I have not heard of a death by snake around here ever
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Old 07-18-2007, 02:17 PM   #15
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in answer to the specific questions above

1. Yes they are poisonous, but somewhat less so than other rattlesnake species. The venom digests and destoys tissue, and can cause blood clots. but is not neurotoxic.

2. A major regional trauma center like Albany Med probably has some in a freezer somewhere "just in case". Most antivenins are freeze dried powders that can be stored for a long time and rehydrated as needed. They are also likely to treat you with anticoagulants, since the blood clots are what are the really dangerous part.
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Old 07-18-2007, 03:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hobbitling View Post
in answer to the specific questions above

1. Yes they are poisonous, but somewhat less so than other rattlesnake species. The venom digests and destoys tissue, and can cause blood clots. but is not neurotoxic.

2. A major regional trauma center like Albany Med probably has some in a freezer somewhere "just in case". Most antivenins are freeze dried powders that can be stored for a long time and rehydrated as needed. They are also likely to treat you with anticoagulants, since the blood clots are what are the really dangerous part.

I'm pretty sure Glens Falls Hospital also has some which is where a victim would likely be taken. I've heard that several vets in the area that also keep some as dogs are bitten every year on Tongue.
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Old 07-18-2007, 03:14 PM   #17
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I've heard that several vets in the area that also keep some as dogs are bitten every year on Tongue.
Why would the dog stick it's tongue out at a rattlesnake?

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Old 07-18-2007, 05:40 PM   #18
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Eastern Timber Rattlesnake

Saw this beauty last September on Tongue Mountain Range.

3 years ago one TWICE the size nearly bit my hiking partner. Her dog yanked her away by it's leash and it just missed her leg by inches. I was 3 feet behind her when it happened. It was spring time and the males will travel for miles looking for mates and can become aggressive.
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:15 PM   #19
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that dog's a keeper!!
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:30 PM   #20
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RE: Rattlesnakes

CaLculAted Risk

Here are two links to information about how to avoid being bitten by venomous snakes (or any snake for that matter) along with treatment do's and dont's. Keep in mind that these web site are only two of many out there. Furthermore, there is a lot of disagreement out there as to how to properly treat a snakebite, both in the field and in a medical setting. Whatever you do if ever bitten (which is very unlikely if you excercise a bit of common sense) do not cut and do not suck the venom out with your mouth.

As for hospitals in NYS that carry the standard antivenom and/or Cro-Fab (the preferred antivenom) I could not find one close to the NY/VT line. The closest that acknowledged carrying antivenom and also having physicians on staff skilled enough to treat venomous snake bites was in NYC. This is the Jacobi Medical Center which is the hospital that works in close collaboration with the Bronx Zoo. Case in point, a girl that was bitten by a timber rattlesnake on the Putnam/Dutchess line was treated at a regional hospital. The parents of the girl discovered that the doctors treating their daughter had no clue as to what to do. They voiced their concerns with their daughters primary care physician (who did his homework) and he in turn arranged a Medi Vac flight to Jacobi where she received appropriate treatment. Getting the correct treatment ASAP is the most important factor in determining the extent of the damage.

http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/995_snakes.html

http://www.imba.com/nmbp/resources/snake_bites.html

As for carrying antivenom in the field (supposing you could legitamately acquire it), read the following link that I found on Healthlines website entitled "Medicine for the Outdoors". Two articles in particular on this page are "The Shelf Life of Antivenom" and Questions about Snakebite". The article about snakebites even mentions a phone number that can be called to assist in finding hospitals that stock antivenom in the US.

http://www.healthline.com/blogs/outd...h_archive.html

I spend a lot of time in search of timber rattlesnakes due to my interest in endangered species and land conservation issues. The timber rattlesnake is a very good indicator of the health of the environment and ecosystem in which they live. They do not adapt well to change and cannot easily relocate when their habitat if fragmented and or destroyed. Other than the few areas where timber rattlesnakes are known to have populations in NYS/VT/MA & CT, any sitings should be reported to the local state conservation office (equivalent of NYS DEC) or to the Natural Heritage Program in your area. Pictures are recommended to validate the siting.

Also look for the links on this forum related to hiking the Tongue Mountain Range. Mention of rattlesnakes are noted on that thread.

Also a hiking pole/stick is a good thing to have in snake country, not for means of controlling a snake, but for purposes of warning it of your approach. Snakes do not hear but feel vibration. So your footsteps and the tapping of the pole ahead of you and side to side should alert a basking or foraging snake of your presence. It is better that it is prewarned than to surprise it, which puts you and the snake at more risk.

Happy hiking and don't worry too much!!

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