Rattlesnakes

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by musselshell, Oct 19, 2018.

  1. musselshell

    musselshell Adventurer

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    Central Montana
    Years ago I heard a first hand account of a Mountain Bike rider who ran over a rattlesnake. It reared up and bit him on the lower calf.
    Last year I was riding down a gravel back road at a good clip. I came to a low rise with a corner and on the other side was a rattlesnake stretched out full length in my lane. I couldn't avoid it and ran right over the middle. Pucker moment!
    I slowed and turned around to check it out and it was gone. Now I'm a beer drinking heavy guy on a Vstrom so I figured the snake would have been flattened, but they are tough!
    I've spotted a couple other rattlesnakes crossing gravel roads and have been able to ride clear swinging around the tail end.
    But the scariest time was when I got on a paved frontage road and was grabbing gears and gaining speed when up ahead I noticed what looked like a big cow pie in the middle of my lane.
    I swung over to the other lane as there was no oncoming traffic and as I passed I seen the biggest rattlesnake in my life. Or was it a Bull snake? I can't remember seeing the tail and rattle but this thing was in a tight coil and I just gritted my teeth and opened the throttle.
    I didn't bother to turn and check this thing out, I just wanted to get the hell out of there.
    So what I would like is some feedback on what to do when encountering rattlesnakes.
    If you can't avoid them is it best to: run over their head
    run over their middle
    run over their tail
    If you can avoid them is it best to: pass in front of them
    pass behind them
    Stay aware, and ride safe
    #1
  2. rokytnji

    rokytnji Adventurer

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    I don't kill em if possible. They fit the kangaroo rat and desert field mice food chain. I worry more about tick fever ad such.
    Said by a dude with a ranch in Esperanza Texas that he raised his kids in < it is empty now > .

    Now. I do like a rattlesnake bbq tortillas soft tacos from time to time with some bbq dove breasts stuffed with a stuffed cheese jalapeno pepper and wrapped in bacon.
    #2
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  3. davidji

    davidji bike curious

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    #3
  4. rokytnji

    rokytnji Adventurer

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    #4
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  5. kwthom

    kwthom Retiree apprentice - willing to learn

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    My son was bitten in 2006 while adjacent to a golf course...he was in his early 20's and in good physical shape.

    Ankle bite from western diamondback.

    50+ doses of anti-venom. It was prolonged, as his initial hospitalization was for five days. Sent him home, three days' later, swelling was returning.

    Back to the hospital, more anti-venom and isolation for a week to keep him from being infected. That stuff REALLY does a number on your immune system.

    Now, consider the six-digit cost of *that* treatment.

    Fortunately, he had the brains prior to treatment to sign up for an anti-venom study (local pharmacy college is a leading research facility for this...) for a new variant that was originated in Mexico.

    Drug costs - covered by the study!
    #5
  6. D R

    D R Been here awhile

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    From my military days on the back roads of South Dakota and Montana, vehicle safety briefings included the line "don't swerve to either hit or miss animals in the road."

    Of course we where in big SUV type vehicles and not on motorcycles, so running over a snake wouldn't matter.
    #6
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  7. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra Supporter

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    Rattlesnakes are always a highlight when seen (but NOT when they surprise me). A friend told me mtb designer Richard Cunningham got bitten while riding a bicycle at Chino Hills. But on a bicycle, your feet are much closer to the ground at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Also, most adv'ers wear boots not lightweight bicycle shoes which should ward off any snake strike. I suppose sometime in the history of adv'ing, it's possible a rider was bitten by a rattlesnake while riding but I'd imagine there have been far more injuries sustained while trying to avoid rattlesnakes. Be glad all we have are relatively small venomous reptiles in the USA - imagine riding by a king cobra reared up giving you the evil eye =8^0
    #7
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  8. OGOBRacing

    OGOBRacing Been here awhile

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    My guess is being struck by a rattler after or because of running over one is about the same as the odds of being struck by lightning, and that's based on running over one. In the big scheme you probably have better odds with the Mega Millions. Now where I live we have timber rattlesnakes. See them occasionally on my FS and logging road jaunts. I can usually spot them in time to avoid doing harm to them. I've stopped and shooed them off roads with traffic. They don't really like that.
    #8
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  9. Bucho

    Bucho DAMNrider

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    I see them every once in a while out on dirt roads in the forest. I generally just go around them as best I can. Between moto boots and the heavy duty pants of Aerostich I think the snake would have a tough time penetrating to get to my skin, (not that I want to test it). Even, my offroad gear with lighter weight pants. I'm still wearing huge MX boots and knee/shin armor w/ KLIM Dakar pants. Minimal chance of getting bit I think.

    Somewhere I DO have a picture of me picking up a rattlesnake while out on a dualsport ride.
    #9
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  10. Porcupine224

    Porcupine224 NoVa Supporter

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    I believe the rule of thumb is that snake can strike anywere within its own body length.
    I.e. 3 foot snake = 3 foot strike zone. Approach with great caution. Or a long stick.
    #10
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  11. Undocumented

    Undocumented Been here awhile

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    An acquaintance in college in New Mexico ran over a rattle snake three times with his car. He wanted to make sure it was dead. He was going to get the rattle for a souvenir. When he bent over the snake it struck and bit him. His girl friend drove him to the nearest hospital. He only lost his index finger. Lucky. Rattlesnakes, and all snakes, have a more primitive nervous system than we do do. But, it still “works” for awhile after being trashed.
    #11
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  12. jathkajoe

    jathkajoe Been here awhile

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    When I rode a fully faired sport touring bike I always geared up myself in the tent before approaching the bike when camped in snake country. I thought the warmth of the engine from setting up camp after dark may attract a critter and my heavy leathers my slow down or stop any fangs or teeth that I awoke. Always started the bike and let it idle while loading it in the morning, looking in the various hiding places. Just didn't want any hitch hikers who weren't willing to contribute to the gas money.

    Jathkajoe
    #12
  13. shinyribs

    shinyribs doesn't care

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    That's not a bad idea at all. Never occurred to me, but I could see one crawling up in the skid plate or such for a nap. Geez...thanks for the idea.
    #13
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  14. Bucho

    Bucho DAMNrider

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    More like half to two thirds of body length. But it can hard to estimate their length sometimes, so cautious distance is wise.
    #14
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  15. Macho Man2

    Macho Man2 Long timer Supporter

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    We have Timber Rattlers in TN, they are short and thick. My son and I were riding dirt bikes with some of his friends and I was eating dust bringing up the rear when I saw all of them stopped on a rise. There was a Timber rattler coiled up at the base of a tree just off the narrow trail we were riding. I got off the bike and picked up a tree limb and started attempting to push him away. It took several attempts to accomplish this as he kept striking the limb, once nearly knocking the limb out of my hand. Once I got him pushed to the side of the tree, he scurried into the brush. I don't think I would want to get bitten by one.....just saying!
    #15
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  16. bradluke0

    bradluke0 Been here awhile

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    My buddies and I were out riding dirt bikes in an area in St Pete now occupied by Home Shopping . We are riding down a two track trail and there is a 3 or 4 foot rattle snake right in front of us . We stop and my buddy decides he is going to ride up to it , do a 180 degree turn and roost on him . He wound up riding up to it , completed a 159 degree turn and wound up falling very close to the snake . The bike fell on top of him and the snake took off into the weeds . We were pointing like the snake was right behind him and the bike still had him pinned . A delightful (but stupid ) memory .
    #16
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  17. 51%

    51% ReadyToRide

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    Running over one with a car won't kill it (quickly) so running over him with a bike won't do much. Ride behind if he's stretched out. If he's coiled up and you cannot stop or stay out of reach that's a tough call. Doubtful you could react in time to change the outcome. Something's going to get bitten, hopefully the bike.

    If I couldn't avoid and still had the reaction time to do a minor adjustment I'd probably aim for him and gas it hard. Sort of on the theory of what do horses do? Stomp that sucker.
    #17
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  18. tominboise

    tominboise Long timer

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    Can you imagine - start rolling down the trail and feel the snake start to wind its way up your leg.....
    #18
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  19. Undocumented

    Undocumented Been here awhile

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    Never know what it might bite.
    #19
  20. Desertskyy

    Desertskyy Adventurer

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    IMGP3430.JPG

    Ran in to this little guy riding up in Idaho a few years ago

    He was ready to rock and roll if we got any closer
    #20
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