Jas was on her way to the pony pen as I stepped out of the house. She said ‘snake’, I said ‘where’ and she pointed a few feet from her. It was still and stretched out pointed toward the pony pen. Later I found out she walked by it with about 2” between her and the snake. I think the following was in her favor; she walks quietly, and the wind was blowing toward her away from the snake so that should have taken care of scent and possibly sound. It didn’t strike or move.
Midst the barks of Drifter I walked over (close but not too close) to check the identity and yup – it had the noisemaker section. (I check the back end first – forget checking the shape of the head – that end bites). First order of business was to put Drifter in the house and out of the way.
I gave Jas the job of keeping it in sight and “don’t go close” while I went to fetch the pistol that I keep loaded with bird shot. My previous attempts with the ‘real deal’ shot is another story for another time. Suffice it to say I can hit one this way.
By the time I returned, it had moved just inside the pony pen. I shot and hit it. I haven’t killed a rattler in several years so that was an interesting experience for both of us. Of course there are the lingering movements of the snake and as we were watching two ponies headed our way. (It was now wayyyy past their grain time.) Jas headed them off and shooed them back into their hay pen where she locked them in.
I think we may have looked like a comedy act with Jas jumping on the shovel while I held it to cut the snake’s head off. It is always recommended to do this and bury the head because the fangs contain poison and can inject it simply by brushing the fangs. This protects other animals from accidently being poisoned.
If any students are interested, the rattles are hanging on the cork board in the tack up area in the barn. It looked to me like it was 2 to 2 ½ feet long. I did not get a yardstick to check it out thank you.
As I was giving thanks that Drifter wasn’t struck I remembered that is why I have the dogs given rattlesnake vaccine each spring. Yes, there is a vaccine now to protect them.