kolleamm

Avoiding snakes/scorpions while fossil collecting?

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I think fossil collecting is great but I've encountered a snake and a scorpion while collecting and it's really made me more fearful of any rock I try and flip over. Any tips for staying safe out there?

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A long stick and some friends:)

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Most snakes are not poisonous and all would rather avoid You.

Most scorpions have a sting no worse than a bee sting, and again would rather avoid You.

Be watchful and aware of the fact that they are around and there should not be any problems with them.

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Unfortunately my area has rattlesnakes. What would happen if I got bit by a scorpion though? Is it deadly?

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I like to use a rake with a long handle, if there is any doubt. I also give the rock area I want to work in a few good whacks to wake everybody up. I want options early if anyone is prone to communicating with rattles. :) 

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25 minutes ago, erose said:

Worse things: Wasps, because they can fly and will even chase you; Giant Texas Centipedes, big, fast and one of the few things that give s me the willies; Velvet Ants, pretty bugs with a stupendous punch (AKA cow killers); Ants, often the really little ones can swarm over you fast and then you realize that it ain't easy to dance about on a rocky talus slope...

58 years of rock hounding and none of these have ever bothered Me,  However I do leave them plenty of room when Our paths cross.

I have more fear of the larger furry critters like pigs, bear and rabid critters than the little cold blooded things.

 

The worst thing that has happened to Me was when a bat flew out of a small cave opening in front of My face.

He flew past, but it made Me jump backwards.

Not a good idea on a 60% talus slope.

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Being up north, I'm lucky not to contend with dangers like this. The worst is black flies or largely harmless spiders. Maybe some yellow jacket wasps in August/September. Nothing life threatening unless one has an allergy. Even our snakes are mostly non-venomous in my neck of the woods.

 

Stay safe out there! Nature is certainly always something to respect! This is almost a pinnable topic.

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Meanwhile, in Australia...

 

Right now its winter here. Now is the time to look for fossils. All the snakes and scorpions here are either frozen or hibernating. But when we go fossiling in summer, we usually don't worry about that kind of thing but we do wear boots, long work pants and sometimes gloves just incase. Its just commonplace out here to see that kind of stuff and theres not much you can really do about it.

 

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You can imagine what kinds of things lurk under rocks here in Arizona.  I always grab the edge of a rock to flip, try not to stick my hand under it!  Besides the scorpions and hordes of fire ants, those huge centipedes with knife like pincers wont compare to finding ONE rattle snake.  On the bright side, I was flipping red shales in the Hermit shale one time, and found a gorgeous non poisinous king snake under it.  Of course for a second - I didnt know it wasnt a CORAL SNAKE.  

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Related question:  Does DEET repel fire ants and/or spiders?  I've encountered a few black widows in the field.  So far no problems, just curious.  As for fire ants, I've gone many rounds with them, as have most Texans.

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18 minutes ago, Uncle Siphuncle said:

Related question:  Does DEET repel fire ants and/or spiders?  I've encountered a few black widows in the field.  So far no problems, just curious.  As for fire ants, I've gone many rounds with them, as have most Texans.

I found this:

 

"Repellents that contain chemicals such as DEET do repel foraging fire ants. However, spraying these repellents will not deter "angry" ants from biting and stinging after they emerge out of disturbed mounds." 

 

Source: https://articles.extension.org/pages/44073/are-there-repellents-for-fire-ants

 

When it comes to spiders, they have very little interest in humans. They bite if cornered as a defense. Mosquitoes, ticks, and flies are more keen on targeting humans. What chemicals like DEET do is scramble their senses. Blood-suckers are drawn largely to our CO2 signature, so any heat we give off is a big sign that "here be lunch"! :D 

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Some great advice here and anecdotes!

 

Coming from New Zealand and then doing fieldwork in Australia I was really worried about snakes and spiders.

Then something put that in perspective - field work in crocodile country! They would go out their way to make you a meal.

Snakes and spiders and other such venomous things on the other hand don't want to eat you, their venom is for smaller prey or defense if a lumbering human comes up on them too quickly. Snakes especially will get out your way and they will typically know you are there first and avoid you.

like others have said do things to avoid surprising snakes and spiders etc. or putting them in a situation where they have to defend themselves.

Ive only had trouble with a snake once, I was running and came round a corner and there was a cliff on either side, nowhere for it to go. It reared up and let's just say I might have broken a land speed record after that!

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I like snakes.  I like 'em a lot.  Even the venomous ones. I don't keep any these days, but I have encountered rattlesnakes in many circumstances ranging from one in a phosphate mine in South Florida to prairie rattlesnakes in Toadstool Park in Western Nebraska to several species of rattlers in West Texas.  Stay alert in the field and respect a snake's space . . . you'll be fine.  Interfering with a snake is asking for easily-avoidable trouble.

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Also prepare for an incident. It hopefully won't happen, but just in case it does...,

Learn about which dangerous critters frequent your area and the best first aid to treat their stings bites etc.

We have to do several first aid courses before we go out in the field.

Solo fieldwork Increases the risk but we can't always find a fossiling buddy. In that case you have a phone or let someone know when you should be back.

The buddy system is best as sometimes waiting till you are missed is too long.

 

Stay safe and happy fossiling!

 

:thumbsu:

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6 hours ago, ynot said:

58 years of rock hounding and none of these have ever bothered Me,  However I do leave them plenty of room when Our paths cross.

I have more fear of the larger furry critters like pigs, bear and rabid critters than the little cold blooded things.

 

The worst thing that has happened to Me was when a bat flew out of a small cave opening in front of My face.

He flew past, but it made Me jump backwards.

Not a good idea on a 60% talus slope.

Now this does not square with my perceptions. I always imagined you being about 42 with an Inspector Clouseau mustache. Please tell me one of your many alters fits this description. :D 

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1 minute ago, Kane said:

I always imagined you being about 42 with an Inspector Clouseau mustache. Please tell me one of your many alters fits this description. :D 

If not I can always develop another persona!:P

(Boy is it getting crowded in here!!!:wacko:)

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I am also a fan of snakes.  I give them their space when i see them.  Esp the crotalids.  Ticks, on the other hand... I hate and fear those little fill in the blanks.

 

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Some of my "friends" during my outings

coustouge 008.jpg

18-03-17.....JPG

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As others have mentioned, most critters want to spend less time with you than you want to spend with them. Once, in 2 hours of collecting, I encountered 18 scorpions at a site... no stings and 18 scorpions were not harmed. The 19th died at my hands for illegal trespass and entering a domicile without consent... it stowed away in my son's backpack and came out to play in his room later that day.

 

On another trip, I  flopped down on my stomach to search a small hill for micro fossils. I was there 20 minutes before I realized my leg was only 6" from a western diamondback rattler! I nearly soiled my armor I was so scared but the deadly snake just sat there and watched me. Clearly, he wasn't threatened.

 

I have had rattlers blow up rattling in bushes dozens of times. Never been bitten.

 

The moral of the story is that there's nothing to fear, just be aware of where you are and where you place your body parts.

 

Poison ivy is far more vicious by far!

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6" away from a rattler! Wow, but yeah I do agree that most would prefer to be left alone as opposed to going after you. Luckily with rattlesnakes it's easier to detect them at least, but I probably will stick to looking for fossils in places that are free of vines/bushes etc...

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Years ago...when I was but a lad (yes...I know most people call that the Pliocene)...my dad taught me something that I've always tried to keep in mind:  'Never put your hands or feet where your eyes haven't gone before'.  Like some of the others...I actually LIKE snakes...and spiders...and scorpions, but I prefer to meet them under MY terms...not theirs!  If I can't see under something, I don't put my hands under it.  That's what I carry tools for.  If I don't have something that will work to flip a rock over...then I don't flip it over!  Even my best fossil isn't worth dying (or being maimed) for!

 

Here in Texas, we have the whole gamut of 'feisty critters'...from snakes (rattlesnakes of numerous flavors, a couple of kinds of copperheads, the cottonmouth and coral snakes) to black widow spiders to brown recluse spiders to giant centipedes to tarantulas to scorpions and in all my years (a considerable number) of doing field work...I've never been bitten or stung by any of them! Oh...I've been nailed a couple of times by our local scorpion (Centruroides vittatus) but, oddly enough, all of those stings have occurred in the relative safety of my house!  I did manage to get on the bad side of a black widow spider once (in the back of a rarely-used closet) and THAT is something I prefer never to happen again!

 

Just be careful out there, folks!  If you can't tell the 'bad actors' from the 'good guys' then you really don't belong out there anyway!

 

Oh...by the way, Dan...I've never found ANYTHING that will repel or even discourage a bunch of upset fire ants...and I'm not really a big fan of ticks either!

 

-Joe

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