A Rattlesnake bit my baby's nose.

We need more rattlesnake hunts.

It all started when Mr. Foresterman came into the house early in the morning, saying "uhmm, I think theres something going on with Ebony, he's breathing loud.  I think He might have gotten bit -"

The world stopped for but a moment while I processed this info in my brain.

Putting on my boots asap, I grabbed his lead and halter, and went out to the water trough where he was -  he was swollen in his lower face, with nasty drainage coming out of both nostrils, trying to breath, letting out little steam engine puffs with every breath, standing in a way so that his nose was parallel to the ground but not lower then his chest. I saw the tattletale puncture wounds right away on his nose, about 2 inches down from where his nasal bone ends. They were about an inch apart.  My heart inside dropped to my knees when I saw his eyes though - open, wide, full of pain, and pleading when he saw me -

"call the vet, now!"

While Mr. Foresterman went inside to call, I remembered the lead and halter in my hand; thinking "gosh i hope this fits his swollen face - should I put it on him? Will it restrict his breathing even more?" Bver trustful of me, He stood there, waiting for me to make up my mind. I decided to at least try, and it did fit with a little more then an inch to spare ; the nose band slipped over and sat up high not constricting his breathing. I latched the buckle.   We were standing in the full sun, and already it was getting hot - it was supposed to be 90 that day - so we slowly walked to the loafing shed we built last fall, and he was very cooperative, but still breathing in and out those puffs that made my heart beat faster - such an abnormal sound.  I made sure we went slow and easy, and when we got to the shed I slipped his halter off carefully, and once again he stood patiently but now in the shade of the shed. 

Now what? I looked at his face more closely this time...

The two puncture wounds seemed to have weeped, and then dried - did this happen last night? - it was very obvious that it was a snake bite - thank goodness it looked to be a full grown snake bite as that meant there might be less venom involved - most adult snakes know they cant eat that large of an animal so they wont give out venom to kill, just to warn - remember my snake post from here ? They need to keep as much venom as they can at a time because it can take up to a month to replenish, otherwise they starve - baby snakes however dont have that skill yet so thats where they are the most dangerous  - they can unload all of their venom at once....I then looked closer at Baby's nostrils.  Both were slightly flared, drawing in as much air as they could, making that abnormal puff sound on the way out, and both were draining a clear, rusty fluid that was slowly drying as it reached his upper lip - water & blood mixed, which is a tattletale reaction to a bite on the nose. Edema (swelling of the skin) was setting in around his nose, his upper lip, and occasionally he was making a chewing motion, licking, swallowing that nasty fluid that was draining apparently in both directions - nose and esophagus. It was also very obvious that this bite hurt ; although he let me put a halter on, there was no way he wanted me to touch any area near his nose except his lower jaw.  His ears were alert, Eyes WIDE open - I did a heart count by placing my fingers, not including my thumb, under his left armpit and counting each two-beat of the heart as one - he was at 72, definitely in stress - a normal rate for an adult horse at rest is anywhere from 30 - 50 beats per  minute.  There was no sweating however, and he seemed to relax as I assessed him, cocking his back foot to go into his resting stance, quiet except for the occasional normal gurgle from his tummy ...mama was here and she can make it better.  It was this reaction of his that made me so glad that he trusts me, knowing that I will try to make it all better.  This relationship started when he was a weanling, and its so important that you take the time to develop this trust no matter what the age of your horse, for exact emergencies like this...

Mr. Foresterman came trotting out - the first large animal vet he called doesnt do calls, was in surgery, and then they told him we should drive him in (remember we live about 44 miles away, all dusty gravel, and the temp was pushing 90 and it wasnt even noon yet) and the anti-venom alone will be $1000.00 (yes those zeros are not wrong). This is a husband and wife vet team that we brought Dexterdog to this spring for his annual shots. And in this split moment we knew this new vet relationship was not going to work.  

Our conversation was kept to soft banter, as we didnt want alarm baby.  This wasnt the time to cry, whine loudly, or get mad - he was in distress, and he was relying on us to take care of him.  We discussed what the best way would be to trailer him in - take out the partition, box stall him so he could move and breathe freely as we would have to open all the vents and windows because of the heat, but then knowing that the dust would be flying in adhering to the drainage in his nostrils, clogging his only airway... as horses can only breathe through their nose... this drive would be a dangerous risk, almost worse then the snakebite itself ...

In the calmest tone I could muster, I told Mr. Foresterman this is crazy, this is cattle country, someone does ranch calls - he replied that he knew that there was another vet in town, and he did large animals, maybe he'll come out -  Dr.. Randy Ward  DVM of Broadus - back into the house he went to call ...but not before I had asked him to find some  flexible tubing, or cut up a hose into about 7 inch pieces...

to be continued, after MY heart rate goes down...

continued 2 


  1. We'll keep our fingers crossed for you.

  2. all i could say was "thank God you were home and not in SD!" UGH!

  3. O...M....G.....I cant stand it Feral Woman....I love horses and i am on the edge of my seat...

  4. Oh please say that "Baby" is okay!!!!! Waiting for the next post . . . .
    (so sorry that y'all went through this . . .)

  5. I can not believe you left us hanging there like that! And I'm going to be away from the computer again for at least 2 days, not knowing what happened! I hope it ended well. This sounds like one of my worst nightmares!

  6. Thank goodness that you were home and able to recognize the problem. Hope this turns out well.

  7. Obviously you're one of those people who can keep their wits about them in an emergency. I assume the hose pieces were to put in his nose in case his nostrils got swollen too much- good thinking!
    I am so very glad we don't have rattlesnakes here.
    Yes, that trusting relationship with your horse pays off in times like this.

  8. How frightening! But sounds like you kept your wits and did your best for your boy! Hoope he is OK

  9. Oh my gosh Feral I am so scared for you. I hope everything turns out. I would be so stressed. I am sure the vet will come and everything will be fine.
    Oh I am shaking reading this I can hear your heart beating faster and faster. Good Luck. Hugs. B


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