Monday, August 25, 2014

NM snake sightings on the rise, including more venomous Mojave rattler

The Mojave rattler, one of the most lethal rattlesnakes in the Southwest, has been gradually moving into new territory in Southeastern New Mexico. The snake is a type of pit viper that has recently migrated from California and Arizona and appears physically similar to the area's native Western diamondback rattlesnake and black-tail rattlesnake. Mistaking the Mojave rattler for the other rattlesnakes could mean the difference between life and death according to some experts. The Mojave rattler's fangs are infused with a neurotoxin that is much more potent than its diamondback counterpart, leading the New Mexico Game and Fish Department to dub it the "most dangerous of the state's rattlers." The snake has a reputation for being quick to strike and has venom nearly as toxic as a cobra according to a Game and Fish Department fact sheet on New Mexico rattlesnakes. Rick Johnson, a Carlsbad resident, was surprised to have seen two dead baby Mojave rattlers since last week. Johnson's mom found and killed a 10-inch-long snake after she found it on the porch of her La Huerta residence on Monday, and Johnson also saw another baby Mojave rattlesnake after it was killed last weekend by workers at the Riverwalk Recreation Center. "I didn't even know they existed until my mom told me about it," he said. Tony Hutchins, a snake whisperer in Carlsbad, said he first noticed the non-native Mojave rattler in and around the city about five years ago. Hutchins described the snake's venom as a "whole cocktail" and warned that if bitten, the nearest hospital should be alerted as the victim is en route because doctors must use different anti-venom for Mojave rattler bites than for other rattlesnakes. Carlsbad Medical Center averages three to five snake bites per year and has treated five patients for snake bite wounds this year according to Nicole Chavez, the hospital's emergency room director. Doctors routinely practice for the scenario, especially since the number of snakes in the city has been on the rise...more

No comments: