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Old 12-12-2013, 05:43 PM   #31
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Location: Canyon Country, CA
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Re: Mojave in the winter: rattlesnakes

Hi there, newbie/lurker here and I'll introduce myself in another thread some other time, but I figured I'd chime in with some Mojave and rattler info. My husband, our dog and I spend most of our free time out camping, and the Mojave desert as well as the Mojave National Preserve are some of our favorite spots. We have seen many rattlers over the years - as late in the year as early December and as early as the end of January. There might have been some around in between on unseasonably sunny warm days, but we might have just not seen them....
Our dog is our four-legged child and comes everywhere with us, off leash whenever possible.
He has both the rattlesnake avoidance training and the vaccination, and so far I have felt very comfortable in rattlesnake territory.
First some details about the training: our dog goes through it every year to keep it fresh on his mind, and he responds very well to it. He won't even get near an old shed skin tangled up in some bush.
The interesting part here is that every rattlesnake species has a distinctively different smell. When we do the training in the Antelope Valley (north of LA) they usually use the Western Diamondback, which is the most common in that area. We ask for additional training with Mojave Greens and Southern Pacifics, just to make sure our dog recognizes a variety.
Secondly, the vaccination. Not only do we do a lot of hiking & camping, but we also do sheepherding with our dog. That requires us to be out in the field, concentrating on other things than watching where we step. Over the years, I have seen and heard of at least 5 dogs that got bit by a rattlesnake after being vaccinated. All dogs survived with little to no complications, not even requiring the antivenin.
Of course both of these precautions do not guarantee that your dog will stay away from the snakes, or that he will survive for sure, but my peace of mind is greatly improved knowing that my dog is somewhat protected. I have seen him flip over backwards in panic mode just picking up the scent of a rattler.
Hope this info helps a little....
Anette
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Old 12-15-2013, 09:56 PM   #32
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 78
Re: Mojave in the winter: rattlesnakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlayOutside
Hi there, newbie/lurker here and I'll introduce myself in another thread some other time, but I figured I'd chime in with some Mojave and rattler info. My husband, our dog and I spend most of our free time out camping, and the Mojave desert as well as the Mojave National Preserve are some of our favorite spots. We have seen many rattlers over the years - as late in the year as early December and as early as the end of January. There might have been some around in between on unseasonably sunny warm days, but we might have just not seen them....
Our dog is our four-legged child and comes everywhere with us, off leash whenever possible.
He has both the rattlesnake avoidance training and the vaccination, and so far I have felt very comfortable in rattlesnake territory.
First some details about the training: our dog goes through it every year to keep it fresh on his mind, and he responds very well to it. He won't even get near an old shed skin tangled up in some bush.
The interesting part here is that every rattlesnake species has a distinctively different smell. When we do the training in the Antelope Valley (north of LA) they usually use the Western Diamondback, which is the most common in that area. We ask for additional training with Mojave Greens and Southern Pacifics, just to make sure our dog recognizes a variety.
Secondly, the vaccination. Not only do we do a lot of hiking & camping, but we also do sheepherding with our dog. That requires us to be out in the field, concentrating on other things than watching where we step. Over the years, I have seen and heard of at least 5 dogs that got bit by a rattlesnake after being vaccinated. All dogs survived with little to no complications, not even requiring the antivenin.
Of course both of these precautions do not guarantee that your dog will stay away from the snakes, or that he will survive for sure, but my peace of mind is greatly improved knowing that my dog is somewhat protected. I have seen him flip over backwards in panic mode just picking up the scent of a rattler.
Hope this info helps a little....
Anette

Anette,

Thank you for all the information. My wife and I spend a significant amount of our free time with out dogs -- mostly outdoors, mostly off leash. Like you, our dogs are very much our 4 legged children.

I've talked to our vet about the vaccination and the vet was less than excited about the idea of administering this to our dogs. Perhaps this is due to living in the Pacific NW, away from the areas where you'd run into venomous snakes. Not really sure if this is a regional phenomenon?

At this point, we are planning to limit our time in the Mojave, not out of fear of Rattlers, but we are simply planning to hit the Lost Coast on our way down South. Thanks for the great deal of info posted in this thread, I feel we will be better prepared and more aware of what to expect in the Mojave.

Thanks,
DJM
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