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Hissing in the Chinese New Year 2013

Chinese New Year of the Snake and San Diego County snakes

 

The Chinese New Year is a Zodiac with 12 animal symbols. The sixth symbol is the snake and for those born 1929,1941,1953,1965, 1977, 1989, 2001 and 2013 this is your year of the snake. The year begins February 10 and ends the following Jan. So if someone was born January 20, 1966 they would still be in the year of the snake which began in 1965.

The list of traits that I have gathered attributed to the symbolic snake are; thoughtfulness, complex, clever, want to be involved in their friends’ lives and have good manners. They are insightful, sometimes viewed as conceited and have a good sense of fashion and style. Sometimes they can be headstrong and hate to fail at anything. Their lucky colors are; pale yellow, red and black and should avoid; white, and brown. Their luck numbers are 1, 6, 7, and should avoid 2, 8 and 9. Their lucky flowers are cactus and orchids.

 

Happy Chinese New Year to all the charming snakes.

 

Now for the many local beneficial snakes in San Diego County who are all tucked away for the cold winter as they hibernate.

Around the world there are 2900 varieties of snakes with 375 of them being venomous. In San Diego County we have 3 very venomous and 3 not so venomous snakes along with several nonvenomous. The very venomous snakes have front fangs while the not lethal ones have their venom in the back of their mouths and must chew on their prey to release the venom.

Our very venomous snakes are Red Diamond rattlesnake, Speckled rattlesnake and Western rattlesnake. Our venomous, but not lethal snakes are California Black-headed snake, California Lrye snake and Coast Night snake. Just as people can die from the sting of a bee, a small minority of people may have an uncomfortable adverse reaction to the bites of these snakes while all people will experience negative results from a rattlesnake bite.

 

Our nonvenomous snakes are; Gopher, Common Kingsnake, California Mountain Kingsnake,Two striped Garter snake,Western Long-nosed snake,Glossy snake,Western Patch-nosed snake, Coachwhip, Racer, Ring-necked snake, Western Blind snake and the Rosey boa.

Snake facts; they have no ears or eardrums. They have no legs or arms and propel themselves along the ground with powerful muscles in a slithering movement. They have no eyelids but have a nonmoveable protective covering over the eye. They are covered with smooth, tight fitting scales.  They can shed their skin up to six times a year. They mostly hunt at night. They are ectotherms which means their body temperature is controlled by the external temperature which is why they hibernate during the winter. They have the ability to hiss, especially the gopher snake. When snakes flick their tongue they are smelling the air. They do not need to be coiled to strike.

The smallest snake is the 4 inch long Barbados snake and the longest is the Reteculated python at 30 feet. The Anaconda can weigh as much as 550 pounds and can go one year without feeding after a good meal.

You will not find any snakes in Ireland, Greenland, Antartica, Iceland or New Zealand.

Snakes eat everything from termites, insects, rodents, birds, bird eggs, lizards and other snakes whether dead or alive. They do not eat veggies.

When the weather warms up in the spring months of March and April snakes begin to venture out looking for a good meal as our natural pest control. During the summer months they stay in the shade until evening so they can hunt. Extra care must be taken on hikes to stay on the trails and not stick a hand or foot into a dark shady spot. If the unfortunate happens and one is bitten by a rattlesnake the number one thing to do is call 911. No ice, no cutting, no tourniquet, no alcohol, just get the vicitim to the nearest hospital and make the 911 call first. If at all possible, try to get another look at the snake because the hospital needs to know which antivenom to use. A cell phone photo would be great. Grossmont Hospital has a long and successful history of snakebite treatment but it is all about getting to th hospital quickly to delay further damage. 

Enjoy the outdoors and let our slithering neighbors go about their pest control business. While they won't get the flu and we do, I can't close without saying, Please wash your hands, use those wipes on the grocery carts and don't eat anything in a public place without washing your hands first. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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