Regulars and Shorts

Animalia: September 2012

By catalyst

Ideas, profiles, products & news for all things animal.
by Carol Koleman


News bites

Fall migration starts soon and with that, many birds find themselves in trouble. Whether they are birds making their first journey or are injured or sick, sometimes our feathered friends need a little help. For example, members of the Grebe family migrate in the spring and fall and because of the wetter conditions during these seasons, many crash onto wet pavement at night thinking they are landing on water. It’s easy to assume that these birds stranded on the ground have broken legs and wings as they are completely helpless on land. And it’s very possible they are injured, but in either case, when these birds are found, the Utah Division of Wildlife should be contacted. Debbie Souza-Pappas, wild animal rehabilitator.


The best thing about animals is that they don’t talk much.

—Thornton Wilder

Product recommendation

Bionic Pet products are made from food-grade, non-toxic materials that bounce, float and are nearly puncture proof. The Bioic Ball and Stuffer were tested by our most maniacal beasts, Frika and Stella, and proved to be truly indestructible; if these two couldn’t wreck them, no one can. Bounceable, they are not only good chew toys but provide active play for your dog.

In the Wild: What to do when you encounter a poisonous snake

This spring, I was running in the foothills at a fairly quick pace when I came upon a rattlesnake right where my foot was about to land. Some­how, in that crazy maneuvering way that Wile-E-Coyote in Loony Tunes scrambles mid-air, I was able to barely miss treading right on its back. I also had my dog with me who fortunately did not see the snake, but the experience gave me such pause that I haven’t been in the foothills since. Since then, I’ve spoken to others who have seen rattlers in the foothills. What’s the wise thing to do?

Northern Utah does not have poisonous snakes other than rattlers. So, that bright orange, white and black snake that looks a lot like a coral snake—? Not poisonous.

Rattlesnakes are found throughout Utah and are an important part of our ecosystems; they control rodent and insect populations. Spring, summer and fall are all times when you may encounter rattlesnakes. More specifically, in spring and fall you will find them mainly mid-day during the warmest time; in summer, more in the morning and evening when the day has cooled a little. Snakes are most active at night.

Rocky slopes and woodpiles are where you’ll most likely encounter rattlesnakes. They often stretch out across bike/running paths so keep an eye to the ground. And if you hear a rattle, locate where the sound is coming from before making a move.

Snakes are like most wildlife—they will avoid human contact if at all possible. Give it plenty of space (at least five feet). If a rattlesnake does come toward you (this is rare), back away slowly, and let it go on its way.

“Watch where you step, where you place your hands when you sit down, and above all, resist the urge to harass or kill a snake [which is illegal],” says Jason Jones of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “In most cases, the snake is simply moving through the area, sunning itself or attempting to find refuge.”

If you frequently take your pet hiking with you, you may want to consider the rattlesnake vaccination. Talk with your veterinarian about this. Also ask if your vet keeps anti-venin on hand.

What (and what not) to do if you are bitten

First you should know that deaths from rattlesnake bites are very rare; don’t panic.

• Get the victim to a medical facility as soon as possible.

• Remove all constricting items near the bite wound like watches, rings or clothing (affected area will swell).

• Decrease activity and keep bite wound below the heart to reduce venom spread.

• Do not use incision of any kind; it isn’t helpful and can cause more harm than good. And don’t try to suck out the venom.

• Do not use a tourniquet; this can cause gangrene.

• Alcohol or drugs may increase venom spread so stay away from those.

• Don’t apply ice, this just causes more discomfort and doesn’t help.,,

This article was originally published on August 30, 2012.