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christopher
04-22-2006, 10:11 PM
I was wondering about the snakes in the rivers in GSMNP. A couple of weeks ago I was fishing in the Tremont area when I looked down at my feet and a 3ft snake went by my leg. I was just curious if any reports on snake bites in the river. I have always wondered about them. Im from a small town and know about most of the snakes in the ares. I never really thought about them while wading ,but it kinda hurt my nerves a little and put a stop almost to my fishing that day. Any info would be great...Thanks.

David Knapp
04-22-2006, 10:50 PM
There are a lot of harmless water snakes in the Smokies. They are generally not a problem at all but they can scare you really good. I don't know how many times I've stepped over them. Just last weekend I saw the first of the season up above Elkmont. It is usually a scary moment while I'm getting to a healthy distance. There are copperheads and the occassional rattlesnake in the Smokies also. These are the ones that you have to watch out for. Just be careful and watch where you are going and you should be fine.

sustratiotes
04-23-2006, 07:34 PM
Some interesting information on snakes at:

http://www.emedicine.com/MED/topic2143.htm

---
Some highlights:

In the US: Snakebites frequently go unreported. Approximately 4000-7000 bites are reported to national centers each year. North Carolina has the highest frequency, with 19 bites per 100,000 persons. The national average is approximately 4 bites per 100,000 persons.

Deaths secondary to snake bites are rare. With the proper use of antivenin, they are becoming rarer still. The national average has been less than 4 deaths per year for the last several years.

Data gathered in a 5-year retrospective chart review from the University of Tennessee Medical Center at Knoxville (UTMCK), a level-I trauma center, focused on 25 bites. Of these, 4 required fasciotomy and 2 subsequently needed split-thickness skin grafting. The average length of stay was 3.2 days. No deaths occurred, and morbidity was limited to the local wounds.
---

I'm actually more concerned about the 'aviators with armament' - bees and wasps, than the snakes. I've found I can get away from the snakes easier than the aviators. Also, I've been stung several times, but never bitten. ymmv

-halieus

Rog 1
04-24-2006, 09:01 AM
I have had the opportunity to observe just about every kind of snake there is in the mountains without incident. Weirdest moment occured while fishing one early October with a friend up on Greenbrier....watched my buddy doing the snake dance while wading upstream....instead of the normal banded water snake I had come to expect it was a 3-4 foot timber rattler cruising down the middle of the river looking to come ashore about where by buddy was located....really was a surprise and we were seeing snakes everywhere for the rest of the trip...best bet is just to keep your eyes open.

russ
04-24-2006, 12:12 PM
Endless you're a yankee you don't have to worry about the snakes ;D. We train all of them to attack yankees though ;)

christopher
04-24-2006, 12:36 PM
Well I appreciate the comments on the snakes. I know ive done the water snake dance a few times this year. After a few mins out of the water, im back in. It just gets my nerves a little watching a snake looking back at me. Most of them uasually leave the area when I do.Oh yea, Russ, Im not a yankee, I was born and bred here in the great state of Tennessee :P

russ
04-24-2006, 01:27 PM
I figured you were not a yankee because you didn't say you had been bit ;D

moflyer3
04-24-2006, 03:00 PM
Seen the largest copperhead Ive ever seen anywhere on the trail between CC and Abrams Falls. He was blending in well with the surroundings too. I am very glad i didnt step on him.

yellowsulphur29
04-24-2006, 07:05 PM
I for one hate to hike the back country by myself due primarily to snakes and the possibility of getting bit. I did not have a fear nor did I worry as much about it until the spring of 2003. I went hiking to Abrams falls with my fiance and I never saw one snake in the water or the trees the entire time. Once we arrived back at the parking area we decided to take some photographs of the newborn deer and foxes that were in the wheatfield just outside the parking lot. No more than 20 feet from where we stood, while setting up our tripod, I heard a bloodcurdling scream from behind me. A woman from Maryville was just bitten by a 5 foot timber rattler. I saw the snake moving quickly in my direction to get away and now I had to contend with a vicious scared snake and a girlfriend that was on my shoulders at this point. I threw a rock or two in the direction of the snake and it ran further into the wheat field out of sight. I made my way back to the parking area but I could not get this sickening feeling out of the pit of my stomach that there could be more snakes in that same area and I couldn't see anything for the tall wheat. While I thought the worst was over, I discovered another problem with accidents such as this and Cades Cove.....traffic! It took us almost 45 minutes to get the woman from Abrams parking lot to the exit via the loop. I took turns with some other people running ahead of the vehicle shouting "snake bite move off the road". You do not realize how dangerous that one lane road can be until you have an emergency such as this and no way for two vehicles to get side by side. Not to mention most vehicles had stopped for people to take pictures of bear and dear in the fields so a lot of the cars were empty blocking the cove loop road. According to the paper, the woman survived after hospital care, but I have never gotten the nerve back to venture around Abrams again. As a child I used to go there often and I still remember watching a water snake swim from one side of the river to the other. All I can remember about that thing was that it seemed like it was half the length of the river and about the size of a grapefruit in girth. Needless to say I did not stick around to see the head.

Tellicohomes
05-07-2006, 06:25 PM
I have had a snake actually strike a fly once. It curled up in the air and dug under a rock. Luckily the fly line broke or I might have left the rod there....hehe

I have also looked down before stepping and saw a river snake right where I was about to step.. After dancing it took me about 10 minutes to get back in the water.....

Both of these times it was in shallow water in the late summer....

Paisano
05-28-2006, 01:48 PM
Well I did manage to see two snakes while I was in GSMNP this past week. One a dead water logged Rattlesnake on the Little River just below Fish Camp Prong. With it being dead it certainly didnt hurt me or my feelings very much. **** thing was about 3 feet long too!!!

Second was a tiny baby copperhead that crossed my walking path on the Anthony Creek Trail in Cades Cove. Other than that no snakes that distrubed any of my fishing.

The rattler was a wake up though!

Fish On!!!


Paisano

Kevin_Thomas
05-29-2006, 09:08 PM
Had a snake sneak up on me yesterday :o... I was above the cascades on middle prong. It came out of the water about 8 ft from me and froze once it saw me. It had a skinny black head and neck, but a large black and grey body with a large diamond pattern. It was 4 - 5 ft long. What was it?

Skipper
05-30-2006, 10:01 AM
I fished the Nantahala over in NC last weekend (Delayed Harvest ends this week). We fished above the powerhouse all day and never saw a snake until we were just about to leave. I was casting to some risers upstream when out of the corner of my eye I saw what I thought was a big fish come up out of the water. It was a 3-4 ft. copperhead swimming downstream with its head sticking up about 6 inches out of the water. It swam right past me and stopped at a rock below me. It was so well camouflaged, it then just disappeared. This scared my horse pretty good and I decided it was time to head for the house.

Gek
06-01-2006, 02:04 PM
Watch where you place your flyrod on the bank. Watch even closer when you go to pick it up. Got a couple shots of this rattler that my buddy came across this past Sunday at Tremont...

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/1063/3090/640/DSCN0209.jpg

thebig21
06-01-2006, 03:07 PM
The family and I were at Tremont before Easter and saw the same type of snake on the rocks. It was very still and probably cold at that time so we managed to get a good view. This was the 7th snake I have seen since early March and have since changed fishing and family fun locations.

All have been on land except 2 that were obviously water snakes and were not scared to try to get me wet...very aggressive!

lauxier
06-01-2006, 05:35 PM
My late friend,Bill,hunted rattlesnakes.He made rattlesnake billfolds,purses etc.He diedc at the age of 96.He taught Zoology for may years at a Tenn. college.When he retired he took up snake hunting.He was bitten 29 times.The last bite hardly swelled.He and his wife,Ruth.vacationed in the Smokies every summer.He owned a cabin.I think it was in the Wear valley.Sometimes they would stay a month,usually July.Ruth would shop,Bill would explore the park.I talked to him often about snakes.I have a business.He was a good customer.Bill loved th park.Some of his comments about the park's snakes comes his vacations from the mid 60's to 1996 when he died.Agree or disagree here are a few of Rattlin Bill's comments.
1)The largest copperhead he ever saw was in the parking lot at Newfoundland Gap.It was over 60inches long!!!!
2)Be most careful around Tremont.It is very snakey.During the long drought of 1972-He saw and teased 8 rattlesnakes that lay along the banks of the stream.
3)Snakes are somewhat like bee's--Some are more aggressive than others--The hotter the summer,the more aggressive the snake--the drier the summer,the more aggressive the snake.
4)Noise will put most snakes in reverse
5)Don't tease snakes
6)Carry a snake bite kit and a small bottle of ammonia
7)Bill's snake bite treatment--(Like i said before this is what he told me)If you get bit--act as fast as possible--1)lance the bite with a sterile blade2)cut deep--don't stop cutting until you feel the blood running3)Pour ammonia over the lanced bite-wipe clean--pour again(Bill said ammonia will neutralize the venom!!)Apply a tourniquet--get it pretty tight--loosen when needed--Go to an ER.If you lance the bite correctley a suction cup will work well.Do not rinse the bite area with stream water--
8)the larger the snake the worse the bite
9)Rattlesnkes will not necessarily rattle.when you approach.About half the time they rattle an instant before striking.
10)Snakes can strike in water
11)Dark colored rocks attract more snakes than white or light colored rocks.
12)In late summer pine forests repel most tpes of snakes
13)honey suckle vines,moist-mossy logs,southern sun areas,attract snakes
14)Stay away from old structures
15)Where you find one snake--you will always find another close by--snakes are not loners
These are a few of Rattlin Bill's snakehunter theories,comments,instructions etc.

lauxier
06-01-2006, 05:38 PM
By the way,Bill never killed any snakes in the park--and was never bitten while visiting the par

JP
06-01-2006, 10:38 PM
Saw a rattlesnake crawling across the road above Elkmont campground where the houses are on Memorial Day. It was about 30" long. Never rattled, never moved, till I pushed it off the road. A couple of families were coming up the road from the parking lot with kids and thought I'd try to get it out of the way. The rattler was bright yellow with black bands. I HATE SNAKES! :(

hoosier troutbum
06-01-2006, 11:26 PM
Del Striegel and I were fishing up the Middle Prong last year and had a pretty good sized and extremely upset timber rattler come washing down the stream between us. It was in fast water and was not happy about it, he would try to get up on a rock as he went tumbling past ( one of which Del was standing on!) He ended up about twenty feet below us in flat water and swam to shore. A park ranger told us that the snake was probably shedding and either fell into our simply got washed into the faster water. I have had a few water snake encounters before, but now I tend to pay a bit more attention after seeing a rattler that close. Be careful and don't forget to have fun.

DrDan
06-02-2006, 05:57 PM
6)Carry a snake bite kit and a small bottle of ammonia
7)Bill's snake bite treatment--(Like i said before this is what he told me)If you get bit--act as fast as possible--1)lance the bite with a sterile blade2)cut deep--don't stop cutting until you feel the blood running3)Pour ammonia over the lanced bite-wipe clean--pour again(Bill said ammonia will neutralize the venom!!)Apply a tourniquet--get it pretty tight--loosen when needed--Go to an ER.If you lance the bite correctley a suction cup will work well.Do not rinse the bite area with stream water--




as a physician i would strongly advise against the medical treatment espoused above...except the getting quickly to the er part and not pouring stream water in the wound. that is good advice

there is an old adage in wilderness medicine..."the best snakebite kit in the field is keys to a vehicle in good running order"

1. never lance/suck the wound in the field. studies have shown that this is ineffective in removing the venom and may cause excessive tissue damage and bleeding as well as infection. the suction cups have failed to demonstrate efficacy in studies and using your mouth is well...gross...and also introduces more infection

2. NEVER use a tourniquet to restrict arterial flow. this causes more harm than good. the use of a constricting band to decrease lymphatic/venous flow has been suggested in serious envenomations (ie mojave rattler) but carries real risks and uncertain benefits. if you do not know how to properly apply one...do not do it.

3. do not pour chemicals on the wound. they can cause more local tissue damage and will not help

my advice

keep person calm. immobilze affected extremity and keep at level of heart. transport quickly to er. make sure the doctor is well versed in snake bite treatment ...i would request that they contact a medical toxicologist. there are great ones at vanderbilt in nashville and carolinas medical center in charlotte

Kytroutbum
06-02-2006, 08:09 PM
DrDan
Is there any value to packing the extremity in Ice? I've heard this slows the venom flow.
Randy Sale

DrDan
06-02-2006, 09:19 PM
DrDan
Is there any value to packing the extremity in Ice? I've heard this slows the venom flow.
Randy Sale


it is not recommended. most authorities feel it can drive some venom components deeper into tissue and can cause more ischemia

Tellicohomes
06-02-2006, 09:44 PM
Dr. Dan,

I do some backpacking and at times may be 10 to 15 miles from a trail head, what is the best thing to do, except only backpack in the winter, to prepare for a potential rattlesnake bite??

lauxier
06-03-2006, 05:17 PM
I think Dr Dan is right.I was repeating what Rattlin Bill told me.I wish someone would tell me what to do if bitten by a poisonous snake.The Vanderbilt Dr's ,the toxocologists,the er's,will tell you what not to do,and will probably want you to go in for some tests,bitten or not.My question is-----If a snake bites you---what do you do????like i said--i think dr dan is right,but i think dr dan answers no questions--his comments are negative,vague and about as instructional as kissing your sister.

Kingstonian
06-03-2006, 07:34 PM
.My question is-----If a snake bites you---what do you do????like i said--i think dr dan is right,but i think dr dan answers no questions--his comments are negative,vague and about as instructional as kissing your sister.

I think that is a little unfair. * His advice is to get to the ER ASAP and don't do anything to make it worse.

Things that make it worse include tournequets, incisions, creek water, chemicals, and ice.

At a point, you pass "first aid" and go to medical self treatment. *If there is no hope of professional medical treatment for, say, 12 hours, I wonder if incisions and tournequets would be of any benefit anyway. *Left to my own devices, I'd have to hope I got a dry bite (20% are) or a very small dose rather than risking opening an artery or causing gangrene. *

Doing some google work, you see that 8000 snake bites are recorded annually in the US resulting in fewer than 12 fatalities per year. *I think the moral is, don't panic.

DrDan
06-03-2006, 09:17 PM
lauxier..im sorry you found my post negative and vague.

what you posted is quite frankly dangerous advice. i'm not sure how much more specific i could be.

the best way to not get bit is to avoid harrassing snakes. timber rattlers are actually quite reclusive and shy animals and it is rare for them to act agressively. their numbers are in significant decline due to loss of habitat.

there is only one other rattler in tn...the pygmy...but it is only found in the western part of the state and they are even more reclusive. the only other venomous pit viper in east tn is the copperhead. its venom is less harmful but still requires antivenom sometimes.

i would not alter my hiking plans due to fear of rattlers. the chance of getting bitten is incredibly remote if you act responsibly.

if a bite occurs

keep calm
get to a hospital as quick as possible
if you are by yourself, get out as best you can. communication is very difficult in the back country. i would not sit and wait to be extricated. while it is ideal to immobilize the limb that might not be possible if you are by yourself. basic first aid is about all you can do until you reach civilization.
incisions are of no benefit and actually cause harm
dont use a tourniquet

The Preacher
06-03-2006, 10:22 PM
My boys and I fished Tremont Thursday and came across a rattlesnake in the road. Sure does make you want to stay in the water and not out on the bank.

lauxier
06-03-2006, 10:53 PM
dr dan--sorry about my abrasive way--there is a product called a Sawyer Pump .I get faxes at my pharmacy on this thing about every day--it is part of this company's snake bite kit.To use the pump you must first lance.Have you ever heard of such a gizmo.
Lets say you have just been bitten by a snake.You are by yourself.It is August and very hot.You are 300 yrds from a road that leads to your vehicle.From the road you are still 300 yrds from your truck.Do you walk out slowly or fastOnce you get to the road,should you stop and wait for help?.It is hot,you are very upset,your heart is beating a mile a minute,the swelling is starting,What now?
I have fished the Smokies for over 30 years.I have not had a close call with a snake.I have seen several copperheads and 1 rattlesnake.

DrDan
06-06-2006, 12:39 PM
i have seen the sawyer pump/extractor. it is sold with the premise it can remove the venom through the original wound. it is actually a neat looking little kit but the problem is that venom can be injected so deep and dispersed through different tissue planes that venom return is low. if the venom gets into a vascular structure it is long gone before you can apply the gizmo

it is not "harmful" in and of itself... as long as you dont make incisions which can cause significant bleeding (pit viper venom has anticoagulants in it) as well as the risk of damage to important structures like arteries and tendons etc. i have seen some wounds made by people in the field (and in hospitals) and they can be worse than the bite itself !!!!!!


as far as what to do 300yds off the road with a bite...get out as fast as you can. it is ok to gather yourself but with a serious bite you want to get out as quickly as is feasible. trying to call for help is worthless unless you have a sat phone or a field radio (neither of which i own). some of the streams are so isolated i dont see anyone all day and waiting for rescue could be futile.

if i had a serious bite and couldnt get out i would hope i was on a river by a major trail and hope someone came along.

KYtroutbandit
06-07-2006, 11:12 AM
Not to pick on anyone here, as my experience shows that most of the people who post are informed sportsmen and are familiar with the outdoors. However, I believe most of the "sightings" of posionous snakes are actually harmless common non-venom snakes. I have friends that I fish the park with and they are always telling me about the copperhead or rattlesnake they saw, and if I go to the area and actually find it, the snake is never what they think it is.

In my experience the parks venomous snakes are not usually found along the streams where most of us spend our time. (There are exceptions, of course).

The northern water snake seems to get the most credit for being a posionous snake, and they are prob the most plentiful large snake that most anglers run into.

I would like to see what the rest of you think.

The Preacher
06-07-2006, 01:42 PM
I think a lot of people are like some friends of mine that operate on the idea that if it isn't dead it's a copperhead.

lauxier
06-07-2006, 02:55 PM
a copperhead has a distinctive look--the head id kind of triangular--the body is thick relative to length--a fewyears ago,i bought a overgrown farm--part of an open field was used as a dump--there were old stoves,refrigerators etc everywhere--withv help of a bulldozier we cleaned it up--thedump was home to several copperheads--we killed several--i think,they are distinctive enough to recognize--I saw a copperhead while fishing Tremont once--I was a little selfish feeling that day,so I did not stop to spend quality time with it.Is it illegal to kill a poisinous snake in the park?If you a re caught killing a snake in the park,can you be fined?

buzzmcmanus
06-07-2006, 05:36 PM
lauxier, FYI, not only is it illegal to kill a poisonous snake in the park, from my understanding, it's also illegal to kill a poisonous snake in the state of Tennessee. I think that applies to all native snakes in Tennessee.

buzzmcmanus
06-07-2006, 05:41 PM
For more information on snakes in Tennessee go to http://frogsandsnakes.homestead.com/snakes.html

They list all the native snakes of Tennessee and include good pictures of what each looks like.

Hope this helps.

Kingstonian
06-07-2006, 08:24 PM
I think a lot of people are like some friends of mine that operate on the idea that if it isn't dead it's a copperhead.

I just assume they are all cobras until proven otherwise.

kytroutman
06-08-2006, 08:19 AM
Kingstonian:

You said it brother. Contrary to popular opinion, there has also been a few rare instances of the eastern diamond back rattlesnake found in SE Kentucky. These were confirmed by US Forestry personnel within the Daniel Boone National Forest. I don't stand around long enough to see what kind they are or ask their name, I just avoid them like the plague.

russ
06-08-2006, 10:39 AM
The other day i was fishing in tremont and was trying to land a 38" brook trout when low an behold a bear came right up to me. *This thing was huge! *It must have stood 10' at the shoulder. * *As i turned to run away i saw a 25' rattle snake that quickly bit the bear and killled him and then proceeded to eat the bear. *After i landed and released the 40" brook trout, it swam right up to the snake and whooped it with it's tail fins. *Then the 46" brook trout turned to me and said, "I kicked that snake's butt because you are such a good fisherman and because you released me." *This made my day and i continued to fish up the stream with no further problems. ::)

The moral of this story is to leave the snakes alone and they wont bother you! ;)

Kodak
06-08-2006, 12:58 PM
Great story:

Tell me again where you hooked the 38". oops 40", oops 46" brookie?

Kodak

russ
06-08-2006, 03:37 PM
Kidak,
It is a magical place that i had to promise three tree sprites that i wouldn't tell. You can only find it if you have been there.

DrDan
06-08-2006, 05:28 PM
Kingstonian:

You said it brother. *Contrary to popular opinion, there has also been a few rare instances of the eastern diamond back rattlesnake found in SE Kentucky. *These were confirmed by US Forestry personnel within the Daniel Boone National Forest. *I don't stand around long enough to see what kind they are or ask their name, I just avoid them like the plague.


that would be suprising to say the least since they are a coastal range snake extending from nc down to FL and back along the coast. i guess anything is possible but seems unlikely

snakes (and other biting critters) mis- identification is common...by "experts" as well as amatuers. for instance the south florida poison center once reported very high numbers of brown recluse spider bites ...despite the fact the brown recluse habitat does not extend into in their service area!!!!!!

the poster who said that there are many misidentifications is quite correct. many large non-venomous species can be aggressive and that makes people mistake them for venomous ones.

i have only seen a few wild rattlers in the wild that i was sure was a rattler...i once ran over one on my montain bike and killed it. the other i saw of all places on the natchez trace parkway in middle tn sprawled accross the road. i saw a few working construction during college in the mountains of nc. but that was only when we were grading/bulldozing scrubland. i think i saw one afew years back in the park but neither of us stuck around long enought to find out

my only wildlife encounters with copperheads has also been biking...and that was only after some duke power crews bulldozed a den of them and we were riding in the same area. we were quite suprised when we saw a writhing mass of upset snakes on the side of the trail

christopher
06-09-2006, 02:03 AM
Isnt it the rattlesnake that has the rattles on it? ;D

kytroutman
06-09-2006, 08:37 AM
Growing up in Eastern Kentucky where there is a very large venomous snake popluation, you learn very quickly what is poisonous and what is not. Pit vipers have a triangular shaped head which is easily recognizable from any distance. Rattlesnakes don't always rattle but that is not an inference that they are not poisonous and copperheads have a varying range of color schemes depending on the time of year. I have also been in situations where we have blasted in coal operations and discovered dens of snakes that included non-venomous and venomous in one den, something the "experts" have stated does not happen. I was also "lucky" enough to hook a cottonmouth while fishing in western TN in a lake where only the locals would attest to their existence because the "experts" denied the possibility. Improbable does not mean impossible and the important thing is to be careful, regardless of where you are.

Gary
06-16-2006, 01:09 PM
I have had a snake actually strike a fly once. *It curled up in the air and dug under a rock. *Luckily the fly line broke or I might have left the rod there....hehe

I have also looked down before stepping and saw a river snake right where I was about to step.. After dancing it took me about 10 minutes to get back in the water.....

Both of these times it was in shallow water in the late summer....

a few years back my youngest son and I were fishing above Tremont, and he said something about these little snakes all over the place (he was about a hundred fifty feet from me). I finally went up there to see what he was talking about. There were baby copperheads all over the place!
Now I can deal with a rattler without too much trouble, but just hate copperheads. Told him to start tamping his butt end of the rod on the ground, so they'd move out of his way. After about ten minutes he was out of there. The next day we were on the same stream again, but further upstream. I was using a Loomis two weight rod, and somehow managed to actually snag a copper head right behind the neck!! Needless to say the snake was not at all happy!! Was turning that rod into a pretzel, and as I was reaching for my knife to cut the line the leader finally broke. A year later on the same stream again I had another copperhead strike at me, but missed as I was comming out of a creek bottom. Have come to the conclusion that the Middle Prong is a natural copperhead habitat!

Lastly: if you don't like rattlers, then don't even think about going to Utah or Wyoming! Utah must have more rattlers per square foot than any place on the planet. You just got to learn to live with them.
gary