January 28th is Rattlesnake Appreciation Day. It’s also National Blueberry Pancake Day. While we’re quite happy to partake in a yummy breakfast, rattlesnakes are definitely more in our wheelhouse. It’s not uncommon for pets—especially dogs—to encounter rattlesnakes. In this article from Arapahoe Animal Hospital, your Boulder, CO animal clinic, serving Louisville and surrounding areas, a local vet discusses these formidable and fascinating snakes.
Here in Colorado, we have a few native rattlesnakes. The Western Massasauga Rattlesnake is only found in the southeastern part of the state, usually on rocky hillsides, fields, and open woods. We also share our state with the Prairie Rattlesnake—also called the Great Plains Rattlesnake or Western Rattlesnake. Last but not least, we have the Midget Faded Rattlesnake, which likes rocky areas near the Colorado River.
Snakes—both venomous and nonvenomous—do serve an important role in the environment. They can be a huge help in controlling rodent populations! That doesn’t mean you want to live with them, though. If you find a rattler on your property, don’t try to handle it yourself. Contact a professional to have it removed. You can also make your place less appealing to them by removing potential homes, such as piles of debris, and filling in gaps and holes beneath things like sheds and doghouses.
There is a rattlesnake vaccine available for dogs, but it’s not exactly a one-and-done option. Fido won’t be protected against every type of snake, and he will need regular boosters. That said, it may be something to consider. If you know or suspect that your canine companion is at high risk of encountering rattlesnakes, ask your vet for more information.
Keeping Pets Safe
Did you know that dogs are 500 times more likely to get bit by a rattlesnake than to contract rabies? This is in large part due to Fido’s natural curiosity and protective behavior. Pups love sniffing around the types of nooks and crannies rattlesnakes like to hide in! Pay close attention to where you walk your furry pal, and don’t let him nose around potential snake hideouts, like rotten logs or small crevasses. Proper training is also very important. Make sure that your pooch knows and obeys basic commands such as
Sit, Stay, Come, Heel, and Lay Down
Do you have questions about rattlesnakes? Contact Arapahoe Animal Hospital, your Boulder, CO veterinary clinic, serving Louisville and surrounding areas.