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Why Did the Rattlesnake Cross the Road?

This time last year, I had a rather grisly encounter with the first snake of the season. I felt rather bad about killing one of the good guys, a bull snake.

While mountain biking this morning, I got a momentary glimpse of something looking out of its hole in ground, but I laughed this off as excessive cowardice.

Later in the day, a short 18" rattlesnake slithered his way across the dirt road in front of a couple campers. The rattles were clearly visible, but the snake didn't make any noise with them. Maybe it was too immature to rattle?

At any rate, I called the campers over to have a look and take a photo.  As usual, my dog doesn't seem to even notice snakes. 

Campground hosts get asked questions that I don't have a perfect answer for. Imagine a tourist from, say, Wichita Falls, Texas. They walk up to the host, and ask, "Do you got any buh-buh-b-b-b-bears here?"

Meanwhile, back home in Wichita Falls, they had an F4 tornado rip through a trailer park, the week before they left for their vacation. 

Risk versus perceived risk. Moral hazard. Emotionalizing the infrequent. Please don't think I am arguing, que sera sera. I am all for modifying your behavior and stacking the odds in your own favor.

But let's not make the rattlers worse than they are: I think this snake just wanted to 'get to the other side.'

If you look at the extent of the catastrophe and multiply it by the probability of actually happening, the most dangerous thing a man ever does is walk down the wedding aisle. But I think I will leave that out of my standard 'host speech.'


edlfrey said…
You are absolutely right about risk and perceived risk. The perceived risk of dying from snake bite is much the same as the perceived risk of dying from a pit bull attack.

It has been estimated that 7,000–8,000 people per year receive venomous bites in the United States, and about five of those people die. There are 2-3 people die every year from pit bull attacks.

Approximately 150 people are killed every year by falling coconuts and 350 people drown in their bathtubs.

Chris replied:

I wanted to reply to Ed Frey’s comment but “anonymous” has disappeared from the “reply as” list. What happened?

Here is my reply: "I can't verify these stats, but this report says 36 humans were killed by pit bulls in 2017.
Chris, I was being bothered by an Anonymous kook, so I took it away for awhile.

But I just switched it back to accept anonymous commenters.
Ed said…
My bad. I was using an average over many years and did not keep a link to the source.
But even with a new record for the pit bulls the risk of dying in a bathtub is almost 10X higher, yet the perceived risk is that the pit bulls are more dangerous.

kaBLOOnie, thanks for bringing back Anonymous that also brought back Name/ULR which I like to use.
Bon vivant said…
hehehe You're funny. Actually, I just told my son's friend the same (wedding aisle). I suppose it's better to commit that error when very young and get it out of one's system. AFAIK, rattlers don't rattle when they're 'crossing the road' or 'right out straight' as a down east Maine-r would term it, but typically only rattle when coiled and poised to strike. They may also will strike without rattling. And the young'unz inject more poison 'cause it takes practice to learn to keep 'dry ammo'. Tho' they don't have a 'rattle' until after their first shedding. Oh, and they taste 'just like chicken'. So, why kill a Bull snake?
Then this guy was about 5 years old. I guess the "prairie rattlesnakes" in this area are just small.