For some years, researchers have known that juvenile rattlers often have stronger venom than that of their larger, more mature counterparts â a difference that may have arisen because small snakes inject much less venom than adults and may go after different or faster prey. In some species, young snakes have a higher proportion of neurotoxins in their venom than do older individuals.
Because humans often kill, capture, or intentionally run over larger snakes when they encounter them, Biardi argues, we may be affecting the age of the overall rattlesnake population. One need only look at the annual "rattlesnake roundup" in Sweetwater, Texas, where in 1997 more than 18,000 pounds' worth of rattlers were killed during the weekend hunt. Prizes go to those who bring in the largest and heaviest ones. To qualify for the competition, a hunter must submit at least 100 pounds of rattlesnakes. According to Biardi, if humans continue to selectively eliminate older rattlesnakes, it will be mostly younger ones â with the neurotoxic venom â that remain in the wild.
She could have biiten her but there are a variety of reasons why it is possible the snake lost- if the snake was digesting she is the most vulnerable because more of her energy is going to digestion. If she just used her venom on a meal she had insufficient stored to defend herself. If it was cool outside she was probably sluggish and unaware of the cat until it was too late. She was already sick or injured (eating a poisoned rat), etc. My cat and I have both been bitten by pygmy rattlesnakes. Even a hot bite from a pygmy can have a pronounced necrotic effect but neither one of us suffered in the least. We were both given dry bites, meaning in essence, the snake knew we could not be a meal due to our size and she did not waste venom on us.JenC said:Sort of on-topic...my elderly, declawed cat killed a young rattlesnake a few years ago (she's 21, so she was pretty darned elderly even then). I have always wondered why a small (therefore, quick) venomous snake couldn't outrun(slither?) an old, fat cat with no claws or at least bite her.
Ruby, I am sorry for the girl- that was a horible and unfortunate accident. The ocurrences of venomous striking at people in the U.S. is very rare but it ocurrs. An dI believe ther are about a dozen or two deaths every year resulting. I didn't mean to say that keeping the area clean would be a guarantee but it is a precautionary measure. Time of day, prey and burrows in the area also play important roles. I've seen Eastern Diamndbacks choose their meal among dozens of distractions. They go for prey they can swallow and once zoned in, they single-mindedly pursue that prey, almost hypnotically. Your friend startled the snake with a tragic result. I don't think the snake would have pursued your friend to tag her.Ruby said:I went to school with a girl, when she was about 5 years old she stepped over a small rock fence, which was only about 6 inches tall. When she did a diamond back got her on her heel string. She almost lost her leg. It left her crippled, did away with the muscles in the calf of her leg. The yard was clean except for the small rock fence which was only for looks. But it was enough for the snake to hide. This was in West Texas.