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August 13, 2007

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Poetic Justice? Dead Rattler Bites Its Killer

When a 5-foot rattler slithered onto his central Washington property Monday, 53-year-old Danny Anderson sliced its head off-and it came back to bite him, literally.

From The Seattle Times:

Anderson and his 27-year-old son, Benjamin, pinned the snake with an irrigation pipe and cut off its head with a shovel. A few more strikes to the head left it sitting under a pickup truck.

"When I reached down to pick up the head, it raised around and did a backflip almost, and bit my finger," Anderson said. "I had to shake my hand real hard to get it to let loose."

Anderson was in the hospital until Wednesday afternoon.

What do you think? Freak accident, or should he not have been messing with the rattler to begin with?



he should not have messed with it without a long set of pliers until the sun set and rose again, all reptiles can bite you headless or not until nightime falls and the sun rises, I've seen it many times but cannot explain it.


Just leave them alone. They arent after you, they eat hundreds if not thousands of rodent in their lifetimes. Just leave them alone. If you need to move it do so carefully with a long shovel or other such object, or call someone who knows how to work with them. Best way not to get bit is not to get to close.


Yes and Yes. This is a freak accident (obviously) and he should not have been messing with the rattler to begin with. I cannot understand the whole sportman's ethic about "catch and release", "eat what you kill", and "respect nature", when snakes are still considered vermin.

Brad C.

In the Rolling Plains of north west Texas we kill every Rattlesnake we come across. The good thing about a well-placed head shot with a 12 gauge (7 1/2 bird shot) is that it leaves nothing left that the snake can bite you with. Also, over 25 years of records shows an extremely stable population of Rattlers, so the find and kill conservation policy seems to be working well.


I don't think that snakes should be killed just for being snakes, even the venomous ones. That said, Mr Anderson may have had a good reason for killing that snake. they could have been:
1. they found the snake by the swing set that his grand kids play on.
2. It was in the barn and had been eating the baby chickens.
3. It could have been near his workshop and he didn't want to chance an encounter when he couldn't see the snake.
4. Maybe Mr. Anderson thinks that fried rattlesnake is real tasty.
All of those reasons would be good enough for me to kill a rattler. I would not have killed a non venomous one though.


non venomous snake that is, obviously not a non venomous rattler


What is the reason for killing these magnificent animals on sight? Are you afaid of them or ignorant of their naturally designed purpose? A well placed head shot will kill a song bird. Why do you use a 12 gauge when a .410 would do the job? Is the "12" more manly?

Brad C.

The "kill" area is around a ranch house and barn area where we keep dogs and have lots of people traffic, an outdoor cooking area, and often times children roaming. The reason for the 12 guage is we have previosly tried the pistol as the .410. These were not effective "one shot solutions". If you are going to make the kill you want to be thorough in your execution while maintaing a safe distance. Keep in mind, we are dealing with deadly animals considering the nearest emergency room is ~60 miles away.


I forgot to ask, are those 25 years of records based on the research compiled by your Texas rattlesnake roundups?


Brad C.

Jim, I am really curious if you have ever seen one of these magnificent creatures outside of a zoo, a book, or the Discovery Channel? How close have you actually been to a Rattlesnake (and I’m not talking about outside a glass window!!)?

You should come visit rural Texas some time and spend 10 or 12 hours outside a day for a couple of weeks. About the third time you are within 1 foot from stepping on a coiled rattler (whose neck is swelled up like a balloon with venom, ready to inject) on your door step or by your car, maybe even a reptile lover like yourself would reconsider your policy on 'kill versus leave behind for someone else to step on'. There is still such thing as 'good manors' in some places, if you know what I am saying!!


Brad I support you and your efforts to keep the area around your home and barn safe and free of potentially deadly animals. Perhaps, if Jim is so fond of rattle snakes, you could catch, pack and ship a couple of them to him, then he could have rattle snakes around his house too!!


I confess to being a venomous reptile enthusiast. I have a Florida Venomous Reptile License. I handle cobras, rattlers, and vipers quite regularly. Yes Zach, I would be very interested if Brad could become Delta certified to ship all those snakes my way (although Texas laws are quickly making this unlikely). Brad, I am tempted by your inititation to visit rural Texas for a snake hunt.


Jim, we would love to have you and your services (or wisdom). We have two houses on this particular piece of land that have been there for about a hundred years. There are no other houses within miles. Looking for a solution to flush and move multiple snake dens (5-10 dens...totally guessing) that are underneath these houses. In the fall after the first or second cold front we find baby rattlers all over the yard, and especially around the foundations. We have had dogs bitten (no kids or adults yet, but I have had several close calls with snakes laid up in the taller grass, not to mention having many babies snap at me). We see ~10 large adult rattlers per year, but killing the few we see has not solved the problem. Snake away dust around the perimeter has not been a good long term solution but it does tend to flush out a few angry snakes.

Any ideas ? [We have talked about bringing fear factor on-site to see if anyone would crawl under this house !!!]


That is an interesting question that comes up regularly on the snake forums (with no definitve answer). I understand through research that snake repellants do not work. I am guessing that the problem is related to having a food source (attractant) for the snakes. I would aggressively go after this with lots of rodent extermination. What kind of rattler do you have? The most common in your area would be Western Diamondback or Prairie. I could care less if you are zipping off a few snakes for personal protection. I don't like a generalized attitude that the only good snake is a dead snake.


I've lived in Texas since '61 and the only time I'll kill a rattler is if I see one. I guess I'll never be nominated for warm, fuzzy feeling guy of the year, but leaving them alone is like leaving land mines alone and just waiting till someone steps on it.

I don't kill any other creature I'm not going to eat, but I've come too close too many times to these guys to take any chances. I value my dogs and cows more than I do a killer snake. I suspect the rattler-huggers have never had one strike at them - knowing they have to go back out over the same land tomorrow.


You're scared of snakes?


Only the ones that can kill me. If it was a rabid dog or other threat to my safety, I'd treat them the same. The number of legs doesn't matter to me.

If you have a need to play with deadly creatures to make you feel more 'manly' about yourself (your words), knock yourself out. Evolution needs folks like that.


Okay, that was uncalled for. I shouldn't have let snide remarks get to me. Here's what gets me about issues like this:

Being from a rural area, I think I'm closer to wildlife than most city slickers. If there was a way to wave a magic wand and make all rattlers leave my area, that would suit me fine. But now on to reality.

Some folks like to capture wild animals and keep them captive in cages for the rest of their lives. Why? So they can play with them like some kind of toys and talk about how magnificent they are. I can't imagine anything as cruel as this. That's about in the same category as Michael Vick.

When they decide to play with these toys, they control the time and circumstances of the play period. Practically no risk involved there except for the really stupid. Pour those venomous snakes out in the house where they can strike from any where at any time. THEN come talk to us about shooting the ones in our yard.

Matt Mallery

All you snake haters have had your heads filled with a bunch of nonsense. I see rattlesnakes all the time out in the wild and I just leave them alone. They share this Earth with us and belong here. You are far more likely to be killed by a fellow human than a snake. In fact, you are more likely to be killed by cancer from breathing polluted air and eating polluted food. Instead of killing snakes, demand the corporations quit killing this Earth we live on.


I have a coral snake living in the bushes in front of my house that does not bother me at all. The reality is that as long as there is a food source, every snake you kill will be replaced by another. Better just to understand them and learn to accomodate. If this can not happen, move to where there are no venomous snakes.
By the way, I assume everyone has read or heard of the little boy killed by a stray bullet meant for a snake. Now that's irony.


I forgot to mention that I do not consider my snakes to be "toys", they are more than capable of killing me. They are also not captured from the wild, they are captive bred.


Let me start by saying this, thanks to my mother growing up I have an uncanny fear of snakes. I'm cool with them as long as i see them first. I have not killed a snake in my life, as scared of them as i am, however, the first one (deadly) that attempts or succeds in biting me, dies. I'm sorry, I'm going into wild life biology, I know how much they mean to people, and feel horrible when i can't help but hit them on the road, but when a snake is threatening my life, or the life of a loved one, that snake has crossed a line. Living in Missouri and Kansas most of my life, I've seen my fair share of rattlers, corals, copperheads, cotton mouths, and other various pit vipers, There everywhere and a part of life.

To the guy from Texas, I belive you should get some advice from the guy in Florida. He deals with these animals daily if i remember correctly.

To the guy from Florida, be objective and give him some advise knowing that he has a family and crops to protect no matter the cost. The advise you already gave is great, get rid of the food source, you get rid of the preditor.

I know that the world is full of "bunny huggers" and "ruthless killers" but when you team them up, and get them to work together, that is when conservation works.


Although I find snakes absolutely fascinating and, yes, beautiful creatures (which one may find unusual for a girl), I do think that if a venomous one is too close to an inhabited area, it should be removed or, as a last resort, killed. It would probably be easier to kill the thing with a gun rather than a shovel or hoe (or any other type of gardening tool), but that's just my personal opinion. As for Andrew's unhealthy fear of snakes...I don't know how many times I've told him-and this goes for everyone-snakes, even venomous ones, really aren't anything to have a phobia over. They aren't going to chase you, or bite you, unless you scare them first. I've sat for over an hour within two feet of a blue racer and just watched it sunbathe. I've also sat watching tv with a seven-foot rat snake (that I had caught in the wild not a half-hour before) draped around my neck, through my t-shirt sleeves and across my lap. They really are cool, and they deserve as much respect and admiration as any other wild animal.


I would not take a chance with rattlers my self. There are quite a few here in Southern California. Unfortunately this is a big liberal anti-gun state. (I want to go back to Nebraska.) However, when I go to un-developed areas to hike, fish and get away for the rat race, I am sure to be wary and have a large stick handy. although I would rather have my side arm. Yes rattlers do perform a vital function. However, in overdeveloped liberal places like here where they are not regulated by hunting, snake bites are all too common and I would have no problem taking one out as hundreds more will hatch during the season.

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