The rumors started late last week–rattlesnakes are active at Chatfield State Park. I heard a dog got bit, and, while he survived, it was expensive to treat him.
Now, I love my daily walks with Prophet to Chatfield. We go in good weather and bad, cold temperatures and warm. In the almost seven years we’ve been walking the park, I’ve only seen one snake. And while I didn’t stop to ask the creature what kind of snake it was, nor did I go close enough to check markings or underside colors as the guide books suggest, I think I encountered a bull snake
. The snake was a large creature about four feet long. This species is without venom in its bite, but creepy enough for me to keep both me and my dog clear. That was about two years ago, so even with snake rumors, Prophet and I will go to the park.
Then, on Sunday, a group of us ran into Mark, another regular dog walker. It was one of his labs, Duke, who was rumored to have been bit. Mark confirmed our worries. Duke had made no unusual noises. There was no drama. Mark had no idea his dog had even been bit.
“He jumped right into my truck when we were going home,” said Mark. “He acted normally throughout our walk.”
It was a few hours later, when Mark was closing a real estate deal that his wife contacted him by phone and let him know Duke was in trouble. They rushed their dog to the emergency vet and got him treated with anti-venom. A week and a few thousand dollars later, Duke is on the mend.
Mark told us that while he was getting treatment for Duke, the vet said that two other dogs from Chatfield had been bitten in the last two weeks. Our group of dog walkers shook our heads and looked around at our dogs that played near-by in the total bliss of doggie-pack-partyhood. Who could imagine we or they could be in such grave danger?
Rumor has it that the construction going on at Chatfield might have something to do with the recent spate of rattlesnake encounters. They are widening the road near the Owl Glenn parking lot, scraping a lot of earth away, making incredible, vibrating noise that would sure want me going in another direction, if I were a rattler.
It could also be that this is high season for the creatures to be out and about. Weather has a lot to do with rattlesnake activity. They are ectothermic by nature and seek the moderate temperatures afforded by early morning and late afternoon and evening for being most active. But anyone who’s lived as long as I knows that snakes can be found sunning themselves anytime.
No matter the reason, there is no doubt the rattlers are active. I’ve talked to total strangers who take me seriously, thank me for the warning, and walk in another direction. Interesting that in our cynical age, the use of the word “rattlesnake” still gets attention and serious consideration fast.
One thing is for sure. I’m not wearing sandals or shorts to Chatfield this summer. While dogs’ treatment for bites can run from $1,000 to $3,000, treatment for humans can run as high as $140,000 dollars. Talk about a nasty bite!