Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Fun with Snakes

Sedona is doing quite well. She acts as if nothing happened at all. The swelling had gone down a bit but remains rock hard. The wound is not currently enlarging.
The following story happened about a month ago. It was a hot day and I was in the house watching a DVD from Netflix. I finished and when I turned off the television, I heard a noise. It was a noise I did not recognize. I followed it to the front of the house and realized it was coming from the cat patio. About the time I looked out the window I knew what it was--a rattlesnake--and a very large one and very annoyed from the sound of it. The cats were circling in a semi-circle around a corner under the steps. I was able to safely open the door and snatch up each cat and toss them inside. I got a look at the snake under the steps. Oh my--all coiled up and rattling loudly and just huge. It was as big around as my upper arm, probably a 6 footer.
Now what?! The only way I could shoot him would be to lie down on the concrete and aim under the steps. I was not about to lie down anywhere in the vicinity of that snake. By the time I finished dithering around and looked again, the snake was gone. I suspect that as soon as I removed the cats, the snake got out of there fast. My theory is that while the cats were asleep on the table, the snake came onto the patio to be on the cooler concrete. When the cats woke up and jumped on the steps, it awoke and annoyed the snake who then started rattling which made the cats curious, albeit cautious, and the circling predators annoyed the snake further. The snake was in a corner with on where to go and the cats were not going to leave. I broke the stalemate.

My question--Sedona does not know about snakes. Many dogs have to have snake training to beware snakes. So, how did the cats know? They are house cats and have been so all their lives. Do other cats know? Or was I just lucky with my cats? When I ask them, they just give me a look!
I have more snake stories but I also have customers in my store who require my attention so I'll get back to this Friday.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Snake Bit--Again

So, yesterday around 10 am, the fog had broken up & the sun was shining and the flies were waking up and it was time to get the horses dressed w/their fly masks. All the horses were just fine. Around 2 pm, I went out to clean & refill a water tub. Sedona, the TWH mare, parked herself behind me and demanded attention. I turned around and did a double take; I knew what I was seeing but just could not believe it. Immediately behind the corner of her mouth was a big, rubbed raw wound with swelling. The swelling was hard as a rock. The wound had two points of origin. I was looking at a rattlesnake bite.
The wacked part of it? This same horse got bit in the same place 2 years ago.
I looked at her; "Geez mare, didn't you learn from the first snake encounter?!" "You have now proven that my cats are smarter then you." (cat vs. snake is a story for another time)
I trekked down to the tack room and got Betadine solution, gauze, providine ointment and horse cookies. Don't need a halter; as long as I have cookies or carrot slices, she stands for all necessary treatment just fine. Back up the hill to sort her out from the other 2 horses so they don't chase her off for the cookies. Yep, there are indeed 2 points of main damage, one of them a nice deep pit of already dead flesh. As I am cleaning off the smeared blood, I note that it looks like she has another set of fang marks on her chin. I call over Senior Handyman and he makes the same observation.
I put in an emergency call to my vet who returns my call promptly and we discuss what to do. Turns out he is getting ready to leave on vacation and he took my call because he recognized my phone number. The word is to start her on Bute or Banamine (I chose bute because it is cheaper) and antibiotics. He knows I already know about cleaning it for as long as it takes to heal and what to watch for that may need a vet visit.
When I go to give her the bute, the swelling has increased but continues to be very localized around the corner of her mouth. Same as last time, her head does not swell up. The vet said two years ago that some horses seem to contain the venom near the injection site while others spread it and have more problems.
Three hours later, the swelling has either stopped or gotten so slow that I can't see the increase and she has stopped rubbing it. I will attribute those to the bute but have no proof of it being so. She is happy to eat dinner and her soaked hay pellets with oats and SMZ.
This morning the swelling has stabilized and she has refrained from further rubbing. She enjoys the cleaning w/betadine, with cookies. She enjoys getting the SMZ, with soaked feed. But she hates the syringe of bute. Oh well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad!
If this is like before, we are in for a lot of tissue sloughing as the venom kills flesh further from the injection site which means lots of cleaning to keep the necrotic tissue from causing infection and to keep the fly eggs out. The location prohibits any true cleanliness and of course wrapping/covering. The best I can do is to cannibalize a piece of mesh off an old fly mask and use a diaper pin to pin it to her mask to hang down over the side of her mouth. It does keep off a surprising number of flies. Last time, which had less swelling and a smaller initial wound, it took a month of daily cleaning and another month of sporadic cleaning to fully heal.
Really, mare, AGAIN?!

Friday, September 3, 2010