Big Sky Hounds Montana Hunt Country, Photo by Gretchen Pelham
There are many commonly used phrases to warn fellow foxhunters of perils when riding outside of the arena. Such as “Ware wire!” and “Ware hole!”. Out West, there has been a worrisome increase in rattlesnake numbers during this Autumn Hunting season. The Big Sky Hounds just announced they must cancel their next hunt and will move some of their future fixtures due to increased rattlesnake activity. They had a horse and hound get bitten just this weekend. Also, a Big Sky Hounds member was recently bitten by the most venomous rattlesnake in the world, with a one-in-a-million adverse reaction.
Some research on bites from rattlesnakes with the Center for Disease Control found estimates that between 7,000-8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States each year, with about five or 0.07% of those people dying. Horse mortality rates from snake bites are approximately 9%, mainly with small foals or unhealthy, elderly horses. Most horses get bitten on the nose due to their curiosity. This presents the complication of nasal passage swelling to a point that prevents breathing. The mortality rate for canines bitten by snakes is about 5%. There is a preventive vaccine and an anti-venom for canines. However, both options are so expensive that they are not practical for a whole kennel of hounds.
Fair Warning – the two stories below will have two photos of rattlesnakes.