Experienced livestock operators and farmers usually can identify rattle snake bites on people or on livestock without much difficulty, even if they did not witness the strike. A rattle snake bite results in almost immediate swelling, darkening of tissue to a dark blue-black color, a tingling sensation, and nausea. Bites will also reveal two fang marks in addition to other teeth marks (all snakes have teeth; only pit vipers have fangs too). Rattlesnakes of ten bite livestock on the nose or head as the animals attempt to investigate them. Sheep, in particular, may crowd together in shaded areas near water during midday. As a consequence, they also frequently are bitten on the legs or lower body when pushed close to snakes. Fang marks and tissue discoloration that follows in the major blood vessels from the bite area are usually apparent on livestock that are bitten.
Most species of rattlesnakes are not considered threatened or endangered. Since they are potentially dangerous, there has not been much support for protecting them except in national parks and preserves. However, since there are state and local restrictions, contact local wildlife agencies for more information.
An occasional single poisonous snake can be destroyed if one has enough determination. In areas where the habitat is favorable for rattlesnakes, copperheads, or water moccasins, a significant reduction in their population density may be difficult. In snake country, most people learn to “keep their eyes open” and be cautious.
When feasible, the most effective way for a homeowner to protect a child’s play area from rattlesnakes is to construct a rattlesnake-proof fence around it. The fencing must be tight. If wire mesh is used, it should be 1/4-inch (0.6-cm) mesh and about 3 feet (1 m) high. Bury the bottom 3 or 4 inches (8 or 10 cm) or bend outward 3 or more inches of the base of the wire to discourage other animals from digging under the fence. Put the stakes on the inside and install a gate that is tightfitting at the sides and bottom, equipped with a self-closing spring. The benefit of the fence will be lost if wood, junk, or thick vegetation accumulates against the outside of the fence. Vegetation that has ground-level foliage also provides attractive hiding places for rattlesnakes, so it should be removed or properly pruned. Tight-fitting doors will prevent snakes from entering outbuildings. The foundations of all buildings should be sealed or tightly screened with 1/4-inch (0.6-cm) wire mesh to keep out snakes.
It is always desirable to use nonlethalbiological means of control when feasible. Although good quantified data are not available to evaluate the effectiveness of removing the prey of snakes effective, sustained rodent control will reduce the attractiveness of a rural resi dence or other facility to rattlesnakes. Snakes will not remain in habitat made less favorable for them. Hiding places under buildings, piles of debris, or dense vegetation should be removed. Hay barns and feed storage areas that encourage rodents will attract rattlers.