Monday, March 31, 2008

Rattlers on the Trail

Be careful out there, it’s still a pretty wild place, though one hopes that someday the rattlers do move on to the unpopulated areas where they rightfully belong.

Recovering from a rattlesnake bite is no spring picnic
By Blair Anthony Robertson -
Published 12:00 am PDT Monday, March 31, 2008

Milla Austin is not your typical rattlesnake victim. She wasn't drunk at the time of the attack and – this is key – she's not a knucklehead.

That's right: Experts say a majority of those on the receiving end of venomous fangs are young men who have been drinking and suddenly get the urge to grab a rattlesnake, often to impress friends. The rattlesnake is usually not amused.

In Austin's case, she was out running with her husband, Gabriel, last August along a heavily used section of the American River bike trail in Fair Oaks.

The workout was supposed to be routine. Instead, the 31-year-old accountant wouldn't make it home for a week.

At one point, she thought she was going to die. And for several days in the intensive care unit at Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael, she fretted over the possibility she might lose her severely swollen leg.

Austin's frightening ordeal – she eventually recovered with two legs intact, after taking 16 – vials of anti-venom – is a reminder that even inside the city limits, rattlesnakes can't be taken for granted.

Warm spring weather means the area's rattlesnakes are awaking from hibernation, slithering out of a rock pile or thick bush to sun themselves on a bike trail, footpath or roadway near you.

People who encounter them often call someone like Len Ramirez, owner of Ramirez Rattlesnake Removal in Auburn. For about $150 plus expenses, he captures snakes and releases them in unpopulated areas.