Rattlesnakes and tents!

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wedge
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Rattlesnakes and tents!

Post by wedge » Apr 14 2005 6:22 pm

OK, hope I'm not abusing the forum and asking dumb questions, but can't seem to find straightforward answers to straightforward questions on the web or in the books. We're going to be overnighting out there. Are rattlers (or other critters,for that matter) going to be attracted to the tent (read body heat) at night? I guess I'm still trying to get over the thought of one of these guys making his home under the tent overnight and me rolling over him. For sure the tent is good and sealed, so I'm not worried about entry. Or should I be worried (please say I don't need to worry!).

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joebartels
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Post by joebartels » Apr 14 2005 6:51 pm

The mojaves for instance have a keen sense of differentiating native to foreign scents. What you want to do is gather a few prickly-pair pads. Pluck the needles. Peel the pads open. Then rub that along with peeled aloe on the outer tent.

Wait a minute, I can't keep telling people that and live with it. In all honesty I wouldn't be concerned myself. Rattlers don't prey on people so unless you plop your tent on one or it's nest then I think your okay. Just leave your pet mice at home :wink:

Kidding aside, I don't think it's a dumb question at all, I bet many wonder. Hopefully we'll get some good replies from experienced AZ packers.

I've always wondered without a tent, just sleeping on the ground. Would the scorpions and tarantulas walk all over you?
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montezumawell
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Snakes, snakes!

Post by montezumawell » Apr 14 2005 7:11 pm

Yeah..snakes. They are everywhere...and nowhere.

We're pretty "snake savvy" as people go. We actually LOVE snakes.
We're not sure snakes love us. But what the "hey?"

Anyway, we live in Snake City near Montezuma Well National Monument.
Like right next door. Literally. And we haven't seen a rattlesnake in--are you ready--21 years here. NO kidding.

There are many possible explanations for this. However, our neighbors see them all the time. SO why not us? Ah, good question.

Well, it's piss. Pee. Urine. Whatever you want to call it.

Remember that Farley Mowat book/movie where he was "marking his territory" by peeing everywhere? We took that vignette to heart and decided long ago back in the mid 80's to pee everywhere and let all those snakes know that we were here. Hey, it works. Really

So, we'd recommend you save up your pee until you get to your campsite and you walk around and mark your territory with your urine. You won't have snakes in your camp. Don't pee all in one place. Dribble it here and dribble it there. Spread it around. Think Farley Mowat. What a vignette! A little here, a little there. It's a scent deal. Let 'em know you're there. They will get the drift. Honest. And they will beat feet, er, snake skin, and get outta your space.

Snakes ain't stupid like a lot of people seem to think they are. They have highly refined senses--extremely so. They hear, smell, see and feel on a much higher plane than we do. They are extremely sensitive and wonderful creatures, too.

Believe it or not, you can actually talk to them and they will listen--ah, but that 'tis another story.

The whole "Snake Mythology" of the Desert Southwest is grossly overblown and ridiculous. Snakes are cool. They make our ecosystem function. They are journeymen and danged proud of it.

Don't give snakes a bad rap. They don't deserve it. And, for God's Sake, DO NOT KILL A SNAKE. Just talk to it and tell it to go away. Afterall, snakes will listen to reason--at least if you are a reasonable person.

But, if you ain't, well, you might get snakebit. Sorry. Snakes ain't stupid.

And this ain't no S**T!

j

And, PS, If you think this post is stupid, don't bother to tell us about it.
It works for us and that's all that matters for us. If YOU lived in Snake City, it would be relevant. Otherwise...have a great evening!
Last edited by montezumawell on Apr 14 2005 7:28 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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wedge
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Post by wedge » Apr 14 2005 7:19 pm

In response to joe bartels' reply:

Yes, wasn't really concerned about snakes "preying" on people (although that might make for some fun!).........just wondered if they would take the opportunity to sneak a bit of heat. Wait a minute........perhaps I can bring some Canadian maple syrup, put it in a ring about 20 feet out from the tent.............hey, it could work!

Anyway, thanks for the info....you've put my mind at ease. Now about sleeping out under a tarp, well hell, I don't even want to think about it.........

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wedge
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Re: Snakes, snakes!

Post by wedge » Apr 14 2005 7:25 pm

In response to montezumawell's reply:

Kill a snake? Never. I am rather fond of our beauts back here in Ontario, they do wonders for the rodent population, hey, just like in AZ! Ain't that something? I was just concerned about the layin on a desert floor and waking up with one syndrome. But you have confirmed what I have long suspected.....the whole thing is rather overblown and stereotypical...kind of like tourists coming through our Canadian town with skis in July when it's 90. "But man, it's CANADA!". Hmm, go figure.

Thanks for the info. I'll just piss on it!

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Re: Snakes, snakes!

Post by wedge » Apr 14 2005 7:35 pm

In response to montezumawell's reply:

The ground around the tent that is....not your information! Thanks again.

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Post by Trishness » Apr 14 2005 8:02 pm

As was stated above, I don't think you have much to worry about with snakes invading your tent/campsite. But you do need to watch for them along trails and especially in grassy areas, rocks and crevices and under low lying bushes.

Remember that snakes are most active about an hour after sunrise and an hour after sunset. All of my encounters with them have been in the Superstitions and Usery Mountains in the Phoenix area but they're pretty much everywhere in the state. I've run into many in my travels...sometimes in the early AM, sometimes mid-day (when they are usually in the shade of a bush) and they've always buzzed me and believe me, they are loud! I'm not sure if they are more afraid of us than we are of them but they're just warning you to get out of their 'hood.

:mrgreen:

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Re: Snakes, snakes!

Post by Shi » Apr 14 2005 8:18 pm

wedge wrote:In response to montezumawell's reply:

I was just concerned about the layin on a desert floor and waking up with one syndrome. But you have confirmed what I have long suspected.....the whole thing is rather overblown and stereotypical...kind of like tourists coming through our Canadian town with skis in July when it's 90. "But man, it's CANADA!". Hmm, go figure.

Thanks for the info. I'll just piss on it!

Wedge, I did a lot of outdoor activities in Ontario (Quetico), Manitoba and Minnesota before I moved here. I had the same concerns you have and they are not stupid questions at all. Often in the summer, I'll sleep directly on a tarp. I'm sure that would change if any critter ever decided to crawl in my bag with me. The worst thing that ever happened to me, is a herd of elk walking within feet of where I was sleeping! This year, the bugs (something you are used to) have been bad, so I'm sure I'll be using a tent a lot more!

Mary
"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

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montezumawell
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Re: Snakes, snakes!

Post by montezumawell » Apr 14 2005 8:39 pm

wedge wrote:In response to montezumawell's reply:

The ground around the tent that is....not your information! Thanks again.
Thanks for your replies. They are much appreciated.

Well, here's another perspective to consider:

What is the snake's MOST IMPORTANT ASSET?

Answer: Venom. A snake cannot kill something simply with its jaws alone. It has to inject venom. The venom also pre-digests the prey.
It's a win-win situation for the snake.

Nationwide statistics on venomous snake bites will indicate that only about half of snake bites involve injection of venom. Sometimes less, sometimes more on an annual basis.

Basically a snake's venom is its MOST important asset. A smart snake isn't going to waste it on something it obviously can't pass through its expandable jaws. Unless you p**s it off!

Personally, I think that's when snakes are at their worst--when they are p**sed. Afterall, snakes have personalities, too.

So, the bottom line is to "think like a snake." You CAN actually think like a snake. Lots of politicians do it every day! Opps, just kidding.

But, if you realize they have their favorite hangouts and what not, it helps a lot to ease the typical fears of camping in snake country. They really are not interested in you as much as you might like to think they are.

Most snake misfortunes occur when both sides of the equation were having "bad hair days." Or "bad snake days." Or whatever.

Honest. j

PS--There is an "article" on HAZ entitled "Snake Encounters" and it is most visible for newcomers to HAZ who haven't picked an "ID" and logged on. For some reason, it's not real visible otherwise. Right, Joe?

Anyway, here is the "Snake Encounters" address:

http://hikearizona.com/dex2/article.php?AID=15

We have posted a reply to this article that's pretty amusing. I would think that some of you, at the very least, may wish to read my story about the snake phobia person in the Grand Canyon. Truly a classic snake story.

PPS --The first aid advice for shock in the article is probably wrong. I don't think you are supposed to give people fluids when they are in shock. Correct me if I am wrong, PLEASE!
Last edited by montezumawell on Apr 14 2005 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Snakes, snakes! [off topic]

Post by big_load » Apr 14 2005 9:04 pm

In response to montezumawell's reply:

I really love reading Farley Mowat, even if I disagree with him on some points. If you haven't read them all, his recent books are interesting since they add some important (and disturbing) details that I think he couldn't (or was afraid to) include in the original stories.

Also, I must say that although I started out thoroughly absorbed by "Sea of Slaughter", but it became so depressing that I finished mostly out of a sense of obligation.

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Farley Mowat

Post by montezumawell » Apr 14 2005 9:13 pm

In response to big_load's reply:

Well, here's a definitive link to Farley's bio:

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/ ... d=A0005502

I had no idea he is 84 years old now. WOW!

j

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Post by mttgilbert » Apr 14 2005 11:01 pm

I think everything's been pretty well covered but I would just like to add that I've grown up out here and have done a lot of camping over the years. The funny thing is I didn't start using a tent until about a year to two years ago. I used to just throw down a tarp and sleep on top of it. It it rained I grabbed a corner and rolled up in it. I've never had an encounter with a snake, scorpion, or gila monster that way (at least not one that I'm aware of). The point is, even outside a tent you're probably still pretty safe from the snakes. Usually by the time you've bedded down it's already too cool out for the snakes (and other reptiles) and they have already retreated to thier holes or dens.

I know you said not to tell you not to worry, but if I were you I really wouldn't let it bug you too much.
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Post by Abe » Apr 15 2005 9:47 am

Good, awesome, excellent comments above. Cannot add to what has been said.

I remember during my youth I would sleep on the ground all the time. However, at my age and the fact I generally backpack alone I use my tent. It gives me a small feeling of security, of course with my walking stick next to me to beat off any critters who may want to come in. But when I am in my tent I am not worried about rattlers, only when I am hiking on the trail.

One closing thought, it just occured to me, a few years back, was there not a bear attack down near Tucson when a black bear attacked a camper in a tent?
"Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character." James Russell Lowell

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Post by big_load » Apr 15 2005 10:02 am

Abe's post reminded me that only once has a critter approached me while I was in a tent. It was a deer at Reavis Ranch in late fall / early winter. It kept coming closer, but would freeze when I shined a headlamp on it. Then when I tried going back to sleep, I could hear it coming closer. I'm not sure why it was interested, but it wouldn't scare off for long. I felt stupid sleeping with a trekking pole at the ready.

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Post by Shi » Apr 15 2005 10:21 am

Abe wrote:
One closing thought, it just occured to me, a few years back, was there not a bear attack down near Tucson when a black bear attacked a camper in a tent?

I think it was a couple years ago, I had just finished hiking in Tucson area, think it was the Baldy loop trail and when we were heading back to our car, a cub came out of a tree and was beginning to run towards us. My hiking partner raised his arms in the air and yelled at it....the cub scurried away. This is the area that I've walked over large bear scat. Some of it pretty fresh...There is definitely bear up in that area!

BTW, when do the bear come out of hibernation around here? I noticed a lot of really old bear scat in the Sup's, but nothing fresh. I was just curious. Mary
"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

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Post by big_load » Apr 15 2005 11:01 am

In response to Shi's reply:

In response to Shi's reply:

A ranger in the Mesa office told me that bears in the Superstitions generally do not hibernate.

The question came up because of some things I noticed in a winterish return trip along the Two Bar Ridge trail. Most of the cairns had been scattered and dug up in the two days since I passed through on the way up. All the rocks near my earlier campsites had been overturned, and many large holes had been dug all around them. It sounded like bears to the ranger (I'm not completely convinced), and he said that there is enough food about that they don't hibernate in that region.

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Post by tempe23 » Apr 15 2005 12:05 pm

I don't know about rattlesnakes inside tents but I have heard that snakes will come in for the heat. A friend of mine woke up in the morning with one in the bottom of his sleeping bag with him. Mind you, he was not in a tent and just sleeping out. I have lived in AZ my whole life and have only seen 2 rattlers in my many outings. There was a news report on the other night about rattlers saying that in the past week or so the hospitals have treated more snakebites than in previous months. So it is that time again, the rattlers are waking up.
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Post by Sybil » May 11 2005 6:36 am

Oh yeah...the old buzzing in the bush! Had that happen in Martinez Canyon about midday. We were looking for a bit of shade and most of it was infested. I have never heard so much racket! Yes, they were snakes; not locusts. The trails were evident all over the place. Seemed an odd place for them to congregate, but they were there.
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Re: Snakes, snakes!

Post by Roba' Kai » May 12 2005 2:32 am

In response to montezumawell's reply:

I once lived in a place where male cats were always trying to out-do each other. They would spray all the time. They would spray the windows and screens so you could not open the house up because of the horrible smell.

I pee'd a circle around my house. It actually took me a little over a week and I could only do it a little bit late at night, but it worked. fortunately there was no smell from my pee (must have been the W I D E circle I made) and the smell from the cats worked.

I never thought of doing this while camping. Great idea!

Rob

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Post by walkncruise » Dec 28 2005 11:00 am

You've had more than ample replies to your question, wedge (?), but I want you to know you'r lo not alone.
I'm walking the AzT one segment at a time with my daughter, and due to age, (I'm 70) I was interested in cutting back on weight.
So I dropped the tent, even though I was just a leetle concerned about body heat attracting coon tails.
I checked on another forum, asking that question of two herpetologists. They both assured me I'll die of old age before I got bitten because I wasn't in a tent.
I'd done some bping in the S'stitions long ago, but it was always with a tent. No more. It's a lot nicer, seeing "all the stars".
And if you're still not convinced, or still want protection from bugs, consider a bivy bag. Expensive but adequate for that purpose.

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