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Author Topic: Pet Rattlesnakes  (Read 1234 times)

Offline Campfire News

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Pet Rattlesnakes
« on: May 14, 2010, 03:08:14 PM »
Pet Rattlesnakes 

by TalkHunting Member Scott Cobbs
       
When I was 22 years old, in 1988 or so, I moved in with this crazy friend of mine, let’s just call him Howard (because that’s his name).  We both worked at the same place, so it was convenient for us to ride to work and home together and saved us a little money in the process.  Howard is the kind of guy who is too crazy to be scared of anything or think it through beforehand and I was young and dumb enough to go along with anything he didn’t think through.

That summer, while visiting a friend of ours, we suddenly heard the old man who lived next door hollering and ran around the house to find him in his garden jumping around and yelling like a mad man.  It seems the old man had come across a rattlesnake in his pea patch and was not at all pleased about it.  We ran to his rescue armed with a hoe and a garbage can.  In just a matter of minutes, we had the snake safely in the can, you might say.  We took the can and the snake back to our buddy’s house and stretched some wire cloth over the top and easy as that, we had a pet rattlesnake. 

The friend we were visiting, Kenny, worked for a place that installed huge glass windows and had some leftover glass and suggested that we build a terrarium to put the snake in so we could keep it in the house.  We thought this was a great idea, and immediately went to work.  The finished product was not too bad.  It was about six feet long, four feet deep, and three feet high. The front and one side were tempered glass with the back and the other side made of plywood covered with mirrors.  We put legs on it so it was about 18 inches off the floor, and the top was a solid piece of plywood with the front half hinged and the back half had a fluorescent light mounted so we could show off our new pet!  It was great!  We caulked all the seams and cut grooves in the corners so that the glass fit perfectly.  We put sand in the bottom and an old oddly shaped piece of driftwood in the middle, and then with a large rock or two placed around, it was ready to go.  Man we thought that thing was something!  No wonder we were single, huh? 

A few days after we caught this snake, I was at another friend’s house and his wife came running around the corner screaming that there was a snake in the back yard.  Upon investigating, we found another rattlesnake coiled up in his yard and immediately began trying to figure out how to catch it.  We turned a five gallon bucket over next to the snake and it crawled into the bucket to hide.  We stood the bucket up with a stick and slapped a lid on it and just like that, we had two pet snakes! 

Now, this seemed to be the summer for snakes because over the next couple of weeks we added three more serpents to our den.  Howard came home with one in a cooler; another friend brought one by in a feed sack, and I can’t really remember where the fifth one came from.  But, it was a sight to see there in our living room, this big glass case with five live rattlesnakes in it.  Four of them were what we call here in Alabama, velvet-tails and the fifth was a young timber rattler.  Now we just had to figure out how to feed them. 

So, we’re at Wal-Mart asking about their prices for mice, and the nice lady is looking at us kind of funny when she asked, “So what do you boys want mice for?”  When we told her that they were to feed to our rattlesnakes she looked at us like we were crazy.  Hey, snakes gotta eat too! 

When we got home, we pulled some chairs up real close to the cage and dumped the mice in and waited for the show.  The mice, being the city mice they were, had no idea what the snakes were.  The snakes, on the other hand, knew exactly what the mice were.  The young timber rattler popped three of the mice right off the bat, one of the other snakes got one, and the other three snakes must have been well fed when caught because they paid no attention to this first batch of Wal-Mart mice.  The initial anticipation finally wore off and we went about our business and forgot about the lone mouse that was left shivering in the corner of the cage.  This mouse now knew what rattlesnakes were.  The next morning when we looked in the cage, the mouse was nowhere to be seen.  When we opened the lid, he had managed to climb the corner of the cage and was just under the lid waiting for his chance to escape.  And escape he did, jumping out as soon as the lid was cracked open and scaring the crap out of us and running through the house to never be seen again!

Well, we got into a routine, sort of, where we would feed the snakes every couple of weeks and always check the lid for any survivors that might jump out at you.  We even got to where we would handle the snakes some.  We learned that if you held them by the tail, they were way less agitated and by bouncing them up and down slightly you could keep them from raising their heads for a strike.  A bit risky, sure, but like I said before, we weren’t exactly rocket surgeons.  The snakes even seemed to recognize when it was us who entered the room as opposed to someone who didn’t live there.  They wouldn’t rattle when we came in, but if someone who normally wasn’t around came in, they would all sing! 

Eventually, our habit of leaving the surviving mice in the cage led to the death of one of the snakes.  We came home from work to find a couple of survivor rats biting one of the snakes!  We couldn’t believe it!  Who ever heard of such a thing!  We removed the mice with a long handled net we had, but the snake died a few days later.  We assumed it was from an infection from the rat attack.

As time went by, we got more used to having the snakes around.  We handled them quite often, showing off to our friends and proving our ignorance to others.  I don’t remember either of our parents visiting the entire time we had the snakes, but I could be wrong.  Some old ladies at work even started a rumor that Howard and I were Satan worshipers.  Ha, the joke was on them, we were just idiots!  Once we were at a local bar and the subject came up and Howard was called a liar by one of the fine upstanding patrons.  “Y’all aint got no rattlesnakes!” he said.  Howard said, “Just wait right here!”  We only lived about ten minutes away and I was afraid I knew what was coming next.  Yep, I was right; Howard walked through the door of that bar about a half hour later and laid two rattlesnakes on the table and asked that old boy, “You still think I’m lying?”  This was looked on most unfavorably by the bartender as most of his customers were scattering like a covey of quail!

We had the snakes about six or eight months when I met the gal who was later to become my wife.  She must have thought I was brave or stupid enough to train, but she stuck around in spite of the fact she was dating a fruitcake who kept rattlesnakes in his living room.  We dated awhile and I asked her to marry me and she said yes.  No big surprise there.  What woman could resist a man with so much to offer? 

About a month before the wedding, I moved out from Howard’s house and into a trailer that would become home to my bride and me, and left Howard to care for the snakes on his own.  The big day came and I was even able to coax Howard into a tuxedo to serve as a groomsman.  Well, after the wedding, in true Alabama redneck fashion, we had one heck of a reception.  And I’ll say it; there might have been some alcohol involved.  Everybody had a big time and wished us well, and then my new wife and I left the party.

We stayed at a local motel that night and then headed for Gatlinburg for our honeymoon.  (I know big spender right.  Hey, it was all I could afford).   We promised to call our parents when we got settled in to let them know that we made the trip alright.  When I called my mom, she said, “Now y’all don’t need to come back, but Howard got bit last night after the reception.”  Well, wasn’t that a fine start to our honeymoon?  My mom went on to explain that after the reception Howard and a few others had gone back to his house.  He decided to impress his guest with his snake-handling skills and was bitten in the face!  She assured us that he was o.k. and that there was no need for us to come home.  We stayed in the mountains for a week, all the while wondering what the whole story was.

When we got home, we contacted our friend Kenny and got the rest of the story.  It seems Howard had taken one of the snakes out of the cage despite the protests of those present and had held it up for a bravado filled stare down when the snake struck.  He reacted just quick enough to keep the snake from sinking it’s fangs into his face, but the rattler was still able to scratch his cheek with one fang.  Instead of staying calm like they recommend he began slinging the snake at arms length pinwheel style and killing it with the ceiling and one wall.  There was a tale tell blood pattern to prove this.  (Any CSI would have been proud of my acute observation.)  He then turned to Kenny and said, “Get me to the hospital!”  Our local hospital, at that time, was located about fifteen to twenty minutes away.  They got in Kenny’s car and raced to town.  About halfway there, Howard told Kenny, “I’m going out!”, and fell forward against the dash.  When Kenny got him to the hospital, Howard was out cold, and Kenny, who is about half Howard’s size, began trying to get him inside.  The Emergency Room personnel noticed and came out to help, all the while asking Kenny what kind of drugs that Howard had overdosed on.  Kenny said he kept screaming back that it wasn’t an overdose, it was snakebite.  They got Howard inside and administered all the proper antivenin they had at this small hospital and then airlifted him to Birmingham for further treatment. 

When we got to Birmingham to see him, it had been six days since he had been bitten.  His head was still swollen to the size of a basketball and he could just open his eyes barely enough to see.  He was in good spirits though and joked that he would never own another animal that had teeth.  There was a spot on his cheek where the tissue was deteriorated and he would have to have a skin graft but he was going to be o.k.  Apparently, he had already used the ‘no teeth’ line, because awhile later, another friend of ours came in to see him carrying a goldfish in a bowl and he told Howard that he had filed the goldfish’s teeth down before he brought it.
 
Howard is fine now but has one heck of a story to tell.  It was a close call and we all learned a valuable lesson.  I am older and a little wiser now but still have my moments.  Several years later, when my kids were about twelve and eight, we came home one day, went up on the porch and into the house and then we all went back outside to feed the animals.  As we were walking to the barn, I looked back and saw a rattlesnake crawling from under the porch we had just came off of, heading toward a little shed we have in the back yard.  I grabbed a hoe and a bucket and told the kids to stand back and I’d show them how we used to catch rattlesnakes.  I turned the bucket over beside the snake, which was now coiled and rattling like crazy.  But instead of crawling into the bucket to hide, the snake struck at me.  Well, I must have looked like a human weed eater chopping that snake with the hoe.  I’ll bet there was twenty pieces of snake when I was done.  I guess that’s not exactly how we used to do it!   

   
Scott "Copperhead" Cobbs    


« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 11:14:00 AM by Hunt Master »

Offline buckone1

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Re: Pet Rattlesnakes
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2013, 03:35:49 PM »
 ##$%#1119 WOW!!
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Offline Zos41

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Re: Pet Rattlesnakes
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2013, 03:45:56 PM »
great story
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Offline capttrae

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Pet Rattlesnakes
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2013, 01:26:32 PM »
Well, you know… that tends to happen when you mix alcohol and rednecks, u get to her Hey y'all watchis. Great story

Offline BubbaBrown

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Re: Pet Rattlesnakes
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2013, 10:41:26 AM »
All I can think of is, "Y'all watch this"!
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Offline MichiganLouie

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Re: Pet Rattlesnakes
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2013, 09:05:51 PM »
that is one good story.  When I was in 6th grade, I was encouraged to go to the library and read books in English. (English is not my first language)  Anyway, I started reading about snakes, and I ended up reading every book on snakes that small library had.  I wanted a pet snake desperately, so I used to go out to the woods behind our house to look for snakes (I lived with an aunt and uncle in Florida at that time)  I never told them what I was actually doing, 'cause they both disliked snakes. Obviously, my stalking skills were lacking, because I never saw a snake in any of my outings. 
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