Snakes in central/eastern Oregon?

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kdub
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Snakes in central/eastern Oregon?

Post by kdub » February 24th, 2019, 8:34 pm

I’m looking at taking my kids (6 & 8) on a backpacking trip on the east side of the cascades this summer and a few of the trail guides mention snakes as a hazard.

Are rattle snakes prevalent enough in central and eastern Oregon that trails with this warning should be avoided by younger kids?

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adamschneider
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Re: Snakes in central/eastern Oregon?

Post by adamschneider » February 24th, 2019, 9:29 pm

If you're concerned at all, don't let the kids take the lead if there's tall grass or brush. Look up videos on YouTube so that all of you recognize the sound, and keep your ears peeled. The only time rattlesnakes are dangerous is when you surprise them — and even then, they'll escape as soon as they have a chance. (The majority of snake bites involve drunk men. Seriously.)

Mostly, though, I wouldn't worry. If and when you do see a rattlesnake, your kids will think it's pretty cool.

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jessbee
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Re: Snakes in central/eastern Oregon?

Post by jessbee » February 25th, 2019, 3:20 pm

I agree with the above.

Sure, snakes live here but they're usually hidden away. I'd love to see a rattlesnake but even with all the hiking I've done in eastern Oregon I've never come across one while hiking.

If you do encounter a rattlesnake back away slowly, they'd rather leave you alone. I'd be more concerned about ticks than snakes.
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jessbee
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Re: Snakes in central/eastern Oregon?

Post by jessbee » February 25th, 2019, 3:21 pm

Also I'm curious which trails carried that warning?
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adamschneider
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Re: Snakes in central/eastern Oregon?

Post by adamschneider » February 25th, 2019, 5:06 pm

jessbee wrote:
February 25th, 2019, 3:21 pm
Also I'm curious which trails carried that warning?
A lot of the trails in the field guide include a "Hazards" template that can insert warnings about Falling, Nettles, Poison Oak, Snakes, and Ticks.

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Re: Snakes in central/eastern Oregon?

Post by Aimless » February 25th, 2019, 5:49 pm

kdub wrote:
February 24th, 2019, 8:34 pm
Are rattle snakes prevalent enough in central and eastern Oregon that trails with this warning should be avoided by younger kids?
If a trail is specifically identified as one where you might encounter a rattlesnake, then there is some chance that you might encounter one, because some part of the trail will certainly pass through their habitat. It is important to be careful about noticing your surroundings, especially if you're leaving the trail for some reason.

There are several facts on the plus side of the ledger. First, rattlesnakes have zero interest in biting people, except to protect themselves from us when we seem to be an immanent danger to them. If they detect you in time, they will slither away rather than confront you. If you seem too close, they'll rattle to warn you to come no closer. They prefer to have nothing to do with us, if possible. They are not especially numerous anywhere in Oregon. I've only seen a few over many decades of hiking. Lastly, they can't strike very far, so if you're not practically on top of them, you're fairly safe and can slowly move away.

With children as young as six and eight, their greatest danger is that they are so easily distracted from focusing on their surroundings, so I'd keep them fairly close and not let them run up ahead.

If you do see a rattlesnake, it will be a rare and memorable adventure. Don't let the kids throw things at it or poke at it with sticks, no matter how long the stick is. The snake will correctly view this as dangerous aggression requiring it to protect itself. Move back slowly until you're at least ten feet away and you can watch from there safely. The comment that most snake bites involve drunken men is accurate. A little caution and common sense will be enough to stay safe in almost every case.

Edit: Not every bite injects venom, about half are 'dry bites, and even an envenomed bite is quite treatable if the victim stays somewhat calm and gets to a hospital for some anti-venom. Envenomed bites will kill some tissue, but are almost never fatal to humans.
Last edited by Aimless on February 25th, 2019, 8:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: added an addendum

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texasbb
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Re: Snakes in central/eastern Oregon?

Post by texasbb » February 25th, 2019, 7:15 pm

I agree--they're there, but they're a small risk if you watch where you step. As alluded above, most bites are on or near the hands, because drunks/idiots try to handle them. A friend of a friend got bitten on the ankle, but it was because he stepped over a log without looking and came down right on one.

The Western Rattlers we have in the PNW are pretty laid back, nothing like the wicked diamondbacks in the movies.

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Re: Snakes in central/eastern Oregon?

Post by drm » February 26th, 2019, 10:56 am

I've seen two on the east side, one in Badger Creek and one in the remote Hells Canyon. While you want to protect your kids, note that having a noisy group helps to ensure that the snake will be aware of you and warn you with their very unique apparatus before you get too close. As with many kinds of wildlife encounters, being a silent hiker increases the chance.

I also think the greatest risk to bumping into them is in the Spring when they are looking for open areas to warm up. Once summer heat hits, they don't need that and the already low likelihood drops even more.

kdub
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Re: Snakes in central/eastern Oregon?

Post by kdub » February 27th, 2019, 8:31 pm

Thanks for the feedback. Sounds like staying on trail, not letting the kids run too far ahead, and keeping an eye out should help keep our trip relatively event free.

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retired jerry
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Re: Snakes in central/eastern Oregon?

Post by retired jerry » February 28th, 2019, 7:24 am

and talk to them about what to do if they see a snake, or hear rattle

several times I've heard rattle and the snake slithered off before I could do anything. Hard to get camera out in time to take picture :)

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