They’re not aggressive. Really.
This one just wanted to be left alone. It’s the second one I’d encountered that week, and both were relatively calm. Badger even stepped on the first one and didn’t notice until after doing it. The snake didn’t bite, just coiled up and started rattling.
This one took a long time before expending the effort to make any noise, but Turbo wouldn’t leave it alone.
Finally it struck. Turbo hopped back and I thought he’d dodged successfully. He didn’t yelp or give any sign of pain.
I figured we’d better leave before one of us did get bitten because Turbo wouldn’t stay back and the snake was becoming agitated now.
So I went back to the house and after a few hours I went outside to feed the horses.
In my peripheral I could see Turbo coming up to the gate where he normally catches up with me during feeding chores. But I could tell something was wrong. He was moving very, very slowly.
Turbo is named turbo, well, because he’s always moving around in turbo speed. His slow movement was a strong visual cue that something was wrong.
When I turned to get a look at him, I knew right away exactly what was wrong. I had a snakebit dog. His face was swollen tremendously. The snake had not missed after all.
He let me inspect him and a little bit of blood oozing from two neat puncture wounds on his snout. It was the part of his lips that cover the upper canine teeth.
This was on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday – day of bite
The first thing I did was bring him inside and put him in the kennel so he wouldn’t walk around too much. Most of all, I didn’t want him to run off and lie low for a few days, which is what seems to be the thing dogs do when they’re bitten like that.
Next thing was to give him 2 benedryl capsules, adult strength. Turbo weighs about 60 pounds.
After that I gave him about 4 teaspoons of turmeric, mixed with egg and a little bacon grease. He ate it, but not enthusiastically. He slept most of the evening and all night.
Monday – day 2
He still looked awful. That morning he felt awful too but wanted to come into the kitchen and lie on the cool terra cotta tiles. By that afternoon he felt better because when I dropped a potato on the floor, he grabbed it and wouldn’t let me have it back. He carried it over to his spot and guarded it while he rested. Here’s some pics from Monday.
I continued to give him the turmeric and also in his drinking water I gave him cleavers and spilanthes. Cleavers is good for helping the body to eliminate lymphatic fluid, spilanthes is an immune stimulating herb from the tropical countries.
Ordinarily I like to use what grows locally, but the research on turmeric for snake bite (in Middle Eastern countries) was impressive. I knew of nothing else that might work as well. Turmeric is one herb I do keep in stock, even though it’s not a local. Same with spilanthes, although I haven’t had any for more than a decade now. That tincture is some I had made more than a decade ago when I still lived in south Louisiana. Now I’m out of it and will have to try to grow the spilanthes here. Cleavers is a local herb.
Turbo wouldn’t eat the turmeric in eggs, or in any other way I tried. Finally, I resorted to making little bitty pancakes with a teaspoon added to the top of each pancake. Then I folded the pancake over to seal it in there. He gobbled those up like treats. I gave him about 4-6 tsp every 4 hours. I gave him 2 dropperfulls of cleavers/spilanthes tincture in his water bowl (approx 2 cups) each time I filled it. He drank several bowls of water during a day’s time.
Tuesday – day 3
Turbo wanted to go outside to run and play. He felt completely better and looked a lot better too. Most of the swelling had gone down. We got a serious flood Monday night and on Tuesday he was swimming in the water and running around normally. I quit giving him the herbs on this day.
Wednesday – day 4
I don’t have any photos of him on this day, but his swelling was completely gone. The bite area never abscessed or had necrosis. You couldn’t even tell he’d been bitten except that the bite itself was still visible.
If I’m ever bitten by a rattlesnake, there are a few things I’ll do before getting to the hospital. Take benedryl, take as much Vitamin C as I can tolerate. (Dogs and other mammal livers produce their Vitamin C and increase production of it when they are facing toxins like snake or spider venom. Humans can’t do that.) And take turmeric and cleavers/spilanthes.
Your Experiences with Rattlesnake Bites?
If you’ve ever been bitten or treated a dog that was bitten, or brought one to the vet for snakebite, I’d love to hear how it progressed compared to this. Maybe Turbo just didn’t get a lot of venom. His swelling the first day seemed to be fairly bad, though, and he felt poorly enough to think he was pretty sick from it. But the only thing I have to compare it to are my other dogs who laid up a few days after being bitten and so I didn’t get to treat them right after it happened.
Those dogs always developed abscesses that drained about a week later. One dog lost a toe, which regrew later without the toe nail or bone, but at least filled in the space with what looked like a toe.
Predator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, not published yet, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.
Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.
About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.