On a walk Sunday with a soon to be fellow OTG friend and his puppy Blue, we came across this guy.
A couple of feet long, no rattling, recently fed prairie rattler.
How’s the saying go? “…if it’d been a snake it would have bit me…”
I did not see him until my friend pointed him out. He didn’t even move or flick his tongue at us. The large, flat bulge half way down his slithery body makes me think he may have just ingested something small and furry.
Lucky for us, perhaps.
Wildlife spotting out here is one of the perks of living in the prairie. We have quail, road runners, rabbits, coyotes, skunks, porcupine, Bob cats and deer to name a few.
It’s not often you run into anything too dangerous–up to and including our snake friend. But, as proven a million (at least) different times, accidents and stupid crap happens when you least expect it.
The snake sighting got me thinking about some ways to stay safe when living around critters and in an unimproved (no sidewalks, street lamps, etc.) environment;
1. Stay alert-stay alive. Somewhat self-explanatory. Be mindful of your surroundings. Know what, from landscape, to weather, to structures and animals, is around you at all times. Then take it one step further and know what could be around, i.e., prairie rattlers, ankle breaking holes in the ground from kangaroo rats, and hornets in the out house. Which leads us to our next tip:
2. Don’t make assumptions. Just because there was no rattle snake in the outhouse yesterday doesn’t make it so today. Hell, just because it wasn’t there 10 minutes ago, doesn’t make it so now. Always check-then recheck your surroundings. Don’t take the ever-changing and moving environment for granted!
3. Act without hesitation. Inevitably you will find yourself face to face with an undesirable situation, regardless of how or where you live. That’s when it pays to have thought far enough ahead of your current situation to have some sort of plan.
Example: what’s your poisonous snake policy? (Yeah, we’re picking on the snakes today). Kill on sight or walk away? What about for inclement weather? What will you do if a tornado is headed your way? What about a grass fire? Medical emergency? You get the gist.
You can’t really know exactly what’s going to happen. However if you have followed steps 1 & 2 you can lay down some simple rules so that when something does go down you can take care of it without wasting what could be precious time thinking about what to do.
4. Get a dog. Dogs are cool-that goes without saying. They are helpful too by keeping critters away from your house. They serve as great alarms when coyotes and unplanned visitors show up and their keen sense of smell and hearing can alert you to incoming or approaching danger long before your senses can detect it–including bad weather!
A side note–dogs are not immune to getting hurt by all the same hazards as their humans–and often when they get hurt it’s going to be critical. Have a plan to care for injured animals if you choose to have them.
5. Mind your tribe. Last but certainly not least, always know where your co-habitants are. If you are working on outdoor projects and can’t see the other person(s)-check on them regularly. If they go out to the outhouse, shed, or for a walk and they’re gone too long–go check. Don’t wait–time lost in bad situations can spell disaster.
Bad situations could be injury, snake bite or heat stroke.
Always let your tribe know where you are going and what you are doing so that they may check on you as well.
5 things to do to stay safe. Not exactly easy but important none the less and with practice they become second nature. As they become second nature, your OTG, rural lifestyle can become easier instead of harder. Perhaps even to your surprise, you just might find you worry less about walking up on a prairie rattler and spend more time enjoying the peacefulness of being in nature all because you have a plan!
Until next time…