Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Mendocino County Landowner Bitten by Rattlesnake While Doing Evening Chores

[Stock photo from Pixabay.com]

The wild country of Mendocino County presents a myriad of hazards. This last weekend, a property owner found herself the target of the West’s most notorious venomous creature, a rattlesnake.

CALFIRE Mendocino Unit Captain Leah Simmons-Davis was at the dispatch center when the rattlesnake incident occurred. She was limited in the information she could provide due to privacy concerns but gave us an overview of the incident that evening.

Last Saturday, July 1, 2023, the sun had gone down and a property owner in the vicinity of Willits was doing evening chores. Captain Davis said that at some point during the chores, the property owner came upon a rattlesnake. The human was too close for the snake’s comfort and it struck.

Scanner traffic from that evening indicated the property owner suffered multiple rattlesnake bites, but Captain Davis could not confirm the number of actual bites.

It was around 9:45 p.m. that CALFIRE’s Howard Forest dispatch center was contacted by the property owner who relayed that he had been bitten by the snake and attempted to drive herself to the nearby hospital. The patient’s plans were cut short when the symptoms of the rattlesnake bite escalated. Overcome by the pain, the patient parked in front of the Little Lake-Willits Fire Department, called 911 and waited for medical personnel to respond. Captain Davis said the patient was transported to a local hospital and received treatment.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, rattlesnakes are most active at dawn, dusk, and night during spring and summer to avoid overheating. The majority of rattlesnake bites occur between April and October “when snakes and humans are most active outdoors.”

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CDFW characterizes rattlesnakes as a species that avoids humans and is “generally not aggressive”. Rather than attack, rattlers will more often “retreat if given safe space to move and not provoked or threatened.”

Contrary to common lore, a startled rattlesnake may not use its rattle before striking. Sometimes rattlesnakes will bite without injecting their venom which is referred to as a “dry bite” and thought to communicate a warning.

The University of California, Davis identifies a litany of symptoms one will experience in the wake of a rattlesnake bite including “extreme pain and swelling at the location of the bite, excessive bleeding, nausea, swelling in the mouth and throat, making it difficult to breathe, lightheadedness, drooling, and even collapse and shock in rare cases.”

In the case of a rattlesnake bite, do not use ice, or a tourniquet, or try to suck out the venom. These treatments can result in amputation. Instead, UC Davis suggests washing the wound with soap and removing wristwatches, rings, or any other adornments that might be constrictive on the affected limb.

It is important for rattlesnake bite victims to remain calm and avoid exertion making a point to keep the affected extremity below heart level until medical professionals begin their treatment.

UC Davis offers a few tips to prevent rattlesnake bites. When walking outdoors, wear boots and long pants. Avoid being barefoot or wearing sandals when you cannot get a clear sight of the ground.

When navigating the outdoors, avoid underbrush and tall weeds as much as possible. Finally, if you come across a rattler, do not touch or disturb it, even if it appears dead.

Note: We updated the article after learning that the snake bite victim was a woman rather than a man as described when we originally published.

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  1. Another article of misinformation brought to you by Matt LaFever. Bravo! You also only changed the top of the article to say it was a woman, farther down still states it was a male.

    • Thanks for pointing out the error. I corrected it. Qualifying a pronoun mistake as “misinformation” is bad faith. Misinformation is defined as “false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive.” No deception here, just an error.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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