Rattlesnake Deterrent?



Mikey in front and Gizmo behind.

I had reason to take one of my latest adoptees, Gizmo, to the vets both as an introductory event and also to treat him for what appeared to be blindness in his left eye. He had woken up that morning with the eye totally covered just as though he had cataracts which immediately had me hit the panic button.

A quick phone call and I was on my way to the Vet’s fearing the worst. My particular Vet is a younger guy who has been attending to my animals ever since he joined the Clinic several years ago. We have developed a good relationship and he is never too busy to chat to me about this and that regarding the pets. He has also been the bearer of bad news several times over these past few years when when one or the other has passed on, usually overnight. He is well used to my crying into the phone as I always get upset. The last of these was Petey who died of Heartworm that affected his heart.

The last addition, Pete

On this particular occasion he did not think it a very big deal and explained that for some reason, Gizzy had a pus build up in his eye. He ran a few tests and came back and explained to me what he thought it was and then disappeared to complete his diagnosis. Before he went, I talked to him about an Anti Rattlesnake Injection and he reappeared with the required syringe and phial and proceeded to give Gizzy a shot. I paid for the visit and the prescribed medicines and was reminded to bring Gizzy back in five weeks for a Anti Rattlesnake booster shot.

This was one of the nicer times when I came home with the dog I took in, alive and kicking but it got me thinking about Rattlesnakes. Those of you that follow my stories are well aware of how we lost Richie to a Rattlesnake in my own backyard and worse yet, from under the workshop, last August. I blamed myself following that incident for not cleaning out all of the junk that had accumulated under the shed or at the very least blocking it off to prevent the dogs from getting under there. As usual hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Time passed and being the great healer that it is, plus acquiring two more dogs to keep Ginnie company, blocking off the shed sort of slipped to a back burner and was added to the never ending list of projects, real or imagined. However, it was brought back into focus really quickly when I went out to investigate what all of the ruckus was about with Gizmo and Mikey both under the shed and barking up a storm. Their barks however, were not of the panicky kind that Richie displayed whenever he accosted an animal or snake in his backyard and was hell bent on eradicating them from his world. These were the sort of barks reserved for the discovery usually by scent, of a mouse or a rat that they knew were there but were out of reach. When I lay on the ground to take a look for myself, I could not see anything that was cause for alarm.

However, that did remind me that I needed to make that area more secure and prevent the dogs from getting under the shed. I knew I could not stop the snakes or any other small wildlife from doing whatever they wanted to do and going wherever they could get and my easiest course of action was to prevent the dogs from getting where I did not want them.

I really didn’t want to enclose all around the entire shed as it was a lot of work. I know as I had just replaced the skirt boards on three sides. I got me thinking about the best way to handle the situation and then it occurred to me that I already had the sides blocked off and all I had to do was block off the front area under the small deck. On the left facing the shed, I already have a pair of wooden doors that shuts off that side of the shed completely. On the right, I have the fenced in area that I use for storage and the compost heap. Both of these are absolutely small dog proof and even Mikey who is a prodigious jumper can’t clear the fence or gate to get in.

Without further ado, I unscrewed several of the deck boards attached to the workshop so that I could get to the area and proceeded to get to work. I had several pieces of the plastic lattice which is easy to work and cut and fitted the stuff in and around the different obstructions that always seem to be in the way on any of these sort of projects. I was in no hurry and spread the work out over a couple of days stopping for a cuppa when I felt like it or even making a fuss of the dogs as they came by. Mikey likes to help which mostly consists of just getting in the way but I do relish his company. Gives me someone to talk to and reminds me a little of Richie.

I finished the project and feel much better that we have shut off one of the several different areas around the garden that snakes and such can crawl (or is the word slither?). That does give the dogs a fighting chance of at least sighting the snake before it strikes which was not the case with Richie. Whether they will run away or stand and bark remains to be seen and of course, it all depends on the snakes. A hot dry summer and they may well be in because of the proximity of the water in the ponds. BTW, I do not kill the snakes but try to “persuade” them to leave usually with the use of a water hose. Whether I would have killed the snake that got Richie, I don’t know how to answer that as I don’t know what my reactions would have been. As it was, I was more concerned in getting him to the Vet’s. I didn’t see that Rattler and to date have yet to see one either in the garden or in the wild even on all of the hikes that I do. Plenty of Tree snakes and Water snakes but no Rattlers or any others of the poisonous variety.

Oh yes, when I take Gizzie back for the booster shot, the other two dogs will also go with him to start their Anti Rattlesnake Series. Such is the life of a dog owner in Texas.

Written 5/9/2018

Working on the shed
Richie and the Snake.
More Sadness

 

A Better Rat Trap?


snake

A couple of days ago, I was poking around in my newly cleaned out workshop trying to find something that I knew I had just seen and I couldn’t for the life of me remember where I had put it. I  happened to glance up to the top of the storage unit and was very surprised to see a big old rat snake waving its head around. As I watched, it gracefully extended its body until it located a hole in the plywood that lines the inside of the shed, one where I hadn’t cut too closely around the roof truss, and disappeared inside behind it. It had to be all of four feet long. My first thought was that now, I had a much more lethal rat trap than I could ever buy at Home Depot and just maybe, it would clean out any stragglers that may still inhabit the place. I was quite content to let it be but for the next couple of days, was very careful when I went in looking for a tool. You know, just in case…I don’t mind snakes as long as I can see them. I hate surprises of that kind.

Yesterday, as I walked out to feed the fish, I spotted what I assume is the same snake only this time it was out in the open sliding over one of the tubs that I use to store the pond plants.  It was a fine looking fellow and was all of 4 feet long.My immediate reaction was to keep the dogs away from the snake so as not to disturb it. My second reaction was to run indoors to get my camera and then I remembered that I had my cell phone in my pocket. I whipped it out and looked at it not really knowing what I wanted to do. I knew how to take a picture but didn’t have a clue how to take a video so I missed up on that opportunity. This is from a camera man that has almost 8000 pictures in my files all taken with my DSLR Nikon. Guess I am a bit of a snob when it comes to cameras.

Meanwhile, the snake was beginning to make tracks  to get under cover so I started clicking away and managed to get a couple of decent pictures. The markings on this guy are really pretty and he shone in the sunlight. As I was just going out, I put the dogs in the house so that the snake would have a couple of hours to make tracks to where it was going. Hopefully, it will end up under the Yellow Shed as I know the pickings for him are probably pretty good. Rats beware.

It must be that he didn’t find anything in the workshop which is probably why he vacated the place. Bad for him but good for me. Damn, I love Mother Nature.

Postscript:
I wrote this piece on May 29 and have to add that as I was walking into the workshop today, June 6, I caught a whiff of the unmistakable odor of rotting flesh. Thinking that it might be a rat that managed to catch himself in one of my traps, I sniffed around (quite literally) and discovered the source of the smell outside of the workshop off to one side. It was the snake and it was very dead and already putrefying. Even the fire ants were working on it building a mound over a part of its body.
Apparently, it had decided to stay even after I had given it time to get away and Richie, the male medium size Dachshund, had found and killed it. I was away just about all weekend photographing the Austin Pond Society’s Annual Tour or I would have heard the commotion that happens when Richie finds something he thinks he needs to go after and maybe would have saved the snake. After all, I could not ask for a better rat killer than a rat snake. It’s a pity as it really was a pretty snake as snakes go and I had no desire to see it dead. Then again, Mother Nature moves in strange and mysterious ways.

Now if I could just get Richie to concentrate on catching that rat that had the nerve to dash across the floor last evening as I was watching TV with Richie on one side and Peter, the fat little Chihuahua that we recently added to the family, on the other. Ginny, the miniature Dachshund, was fast asleep on the bed and anyway, catching rats is way below her. Not at all the sort of thing that a princess does. Richie never even woke up while Pete went to investigate but as the rat was nearly as big as he is except not so fat, didn’t try very hard. So now, the war on rats has moved inside of my house and it is time to get serious about clearing them out.

I could really use that rat snake about now…..

The Pumps Stopped Working…


I noticed that the pump in the stream had stopped working and as it sits in a box I assumed that the thing was blocked with sediment which happens a lot of the time. I mumbled to myself that is was not important enough to jump on immediately and went about whatever I was working on at that particular time.

That evening, as I was sitting in front of my computer, I noticed that the video feed from one of the outdoor cameras was blank but as this happens from time to time, I did not think too much of it. The video screens are next to my computer.

The next day, I uncovered the box from the disappearing stream by taking off the layer of stones and retrieved the pump. It was not blocked as I originally thought so took it to another outlet and plugged it in. It worked, sort of, and was making the most awful noises so I could tell it was on its last legs. It is just a small 550 gph pump and not very expensive and a quick trip to Lowe’s to purchase a replacement was called for. It did not take very long to replace the new one but when I went to switch it on, it would not work. Nothing, No water pumping, just nothing.

So my brain kicked in and I started to backtrack to the source of the electrical supply. I went to the box on the side of the house and noticed that the 30 amp breaker was tripped and would not reset. The feed for that particular pump (and also the video camera) is one of the outlets within the workshop which has its own electric supply from the main breaker box. Then I noticed that none of the outlets in the workshop were working and as they are all wired in line, I had to eliminate the problem by checking each one at a time.

While I was engrossed in this particular problem, I suddenly realized that it was very quiet. None of the usual sounds of moving water and a quick inspection showed that none of the pumps were working in the entire yard on every pond. It was not quite time to panic but was getting close. Luckily, logic took over and calmed me down as I retraced all of the circuits that supplied the ponds and shed. Resetting the breaker in the main box turned on the 5000 gallon pond as it had its own separate circuit but I was still facing the problem of all of the other ponds. Then I noticed that the breaker for the pond circuits was also tripped and it would not reset. I solved that problem by changing out that particular breaker and lo and behold, all of the ponds started back up again.

I still had the problem of the stream pump and the video camera not to mention the outlets in the shed. I bypassed the circuit that originally fed the stream pump and video camera with a temporary lead cord and managed to get both of them working again.

That still left the problems with the shed outlets, none of which were working. I could not test any of them as the circuit breaker within the box in the shed would not hold. I determined that power was going to the shed as the lights and power saws were each on their own circuits and they both had their own breaker and they were all working.

So once more, logic was called for. I reasoned that I would have to work my way from outlet to outlet and disconnecting the outlets down line one box at a time. If the breaker would hold, I reconnected and moved to the next one. Then I found an outlet that was not working properly so I changed it out for a new one and before moving on to the next, tried the breaker hoping it would hold. It didn’t. By this time, I decided to give it a break until the following day as I was tired of messing with 12 gauge electrical wire.

The following day, instead of going to the next outlet, I jumped a couple in the hope I would get lucky and not have to do every one. No luck as the breaker would still not hold. So as I moved back one outlet, I noticed that the grinder was still plugged into it. I tried to unplug it but it would not come out and closer inspection revealed that an old chain saw blade that was hanging above it, was welded to one of the prongs to the plug. What had happened is that the plug had come out of the socket just enough for the saw blade to touch it and as it was still live created a weld and blew the circuits. The outlet was toast so a quick trip to purchase a new one. Ten minutes after getting back home, I had it replaced and gingerly tried the circuit breaker again while holding my breath. It held.

A quick trip around all of the outlets with my circuit tester told me that every outlet was back in working order and I was back in business. When I stop to think just how lucky I was. It is a wonder the shed didn’t burn down. I know that there are rats in the shed and I suspect that one of them dislodged the chain but for it to fall just right to lodge onto the the very small piece of prong of the plug is pretty amazing. Certainly not something I would expect to happen. If the outlets ever stop working again, I certainly will check every one for anything unusual.

Now, I wonder just what the next problem might be.