We definitely have a COPPERHEAD Problem!

Discussion in 'Health & Wellness' started by Wildcat, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. Wildcat

    Wildcat Member

    Jul 3, 2019
    NE Kentucky
    So...last Saturday (7/27) our 8 month old Billy "Brute" came flying back into the barn and was limping. Wouldn't let me touch him, so I went up to the house to get my husband and it was dinner time. 30 minutes later we went down to the barn to check on him and his leg was swollen to the shoulder and he couldn't lay down or put weight on it. After careful inspection, my husband and son found little "scratch marks" they concluded were a snake bite. We called the vet and got appropriate meds and Brute rebounded just fine with tons of Benadryl and 1 shot of a fast acting steroid. Last night (8/2) we went down to feed the goats and Petey didn't come to the feeder like he should and Jim noticed he was in the same shape only worse! His chest had swollen! So we gave him the same injection of steroids and Benadryl and at 3:30 am this morning he is resting quietly and eating and drinking, but of course still swollen. So we obviously have a copperhead issue where we hadn't known we had one--due to the goats being fenced in a brushy area we never really went into per se (except when we fenced it). Haven't seen a lot of copperheads in prior years, but this one has been somewhat bad--we've killed 2 near our house here in NE Kentucky). So I have a few questions:

    #1.) We haven't put collars of bells on our goats because we were afraid of them getting caught on something and not being able to get loose. Would bells help warn snakes away??? (NOTE: totally new to goats and we have 7 Billy's from newly weaned to 8 months old. So they can be a little rough and tumble, but thus far not to excess because we have no females on the property. And yes, we are in the process of selling them off so we can start a herd.)

    #2.) For those of you living in snake prone areas, besides clearing downfall and debris, what can we do? I mean we fenced (and we intending to fence) brushy areas behind our house and now I worry about the goats! --and yes, we have plans to go in and clear any debris that may be there, BUT, it seems like things are hanging out in the rose and berry bushes they love to eat!

    #3.) now that Brute and Petey have been bitten, what if they get bit again? Will they have some immunity or be more prone to die?

    Petey Copperhead bite.jpg Brute Copperhead bite.jpg
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  2. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    You are right about this being a copperhead year. I've had 3 goats snakebit this year when I've never had it happen to a goat before. Don't be overly frightened about the chest... the swelling naturally moves toward the heart with the blood flow.

    No, They don't get an immunity to the venom... and bells don't scare copperheads, because while they'd rather you walk away, they aren't inclined to scurry off themselves. They hunker down and wait. Large waterfowl and pigs handle snakes just fine. Will your fence contain either of those animals? If not, I'd be diligent and keep your remedies to hand.

    I have Muscovy Ducks, and I'm glad I do. There are no snakes around my house. My son lives close on the property but on in my house and last week in one day he shot 4 large copperheads. Larger than my ducks could've handled, but pigs would've slurped them up like spaghetti noodles. The larger geese probably also would have been fine.

    If you are a good shot, you can hunt them. You want thick boots that go well up your leg, and you want a partner, and a hoe or rake to lift things and turn things over. And to pin them down when you shoot.

    There's a 90 lb rule to most of our poisonous snakes, which compared to other snakes of the world, aren't all that poisonous.

    UNLESS you are allergic to bee and wasp stings, if you weigh over 90 lbs, a wet bite will only make you quite ill, not dead. And most bites will be dry or partially dry bites. So don't panic, which raises your heart rate, and don't try to suck out the venom. That never works except on old Daniel Boone shows with Fess Parker.

    If you ARE allergic then this is a different story. The allergic reaction to even the amount of venom in a dry bite can kill you.

    So, good luck. And you are right. This is a copperhead year.

    OH!!! One final thought. If you have any Black Rat Snakes, DON'T KILL THEM! They'll eat Copperheads, and vermin such as mice, rats, baby raccoons and squirrels. They are the good guys.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2019

  3. spidy1

    spidy1 Well-Known Member

    poor boys, I dont think they will be more prone to issues later but I dont know much about copperheads, I deal with rattlers here
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  4. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    Lol. Copperheads are maily amphibian and fish eaters. Not many frogs in your part of the States, I imagine!

    We have Timber Rattlers here, They are the tamest rattlesnakes in the world I think. I walked around one the other day. It coiled up and rattled until it saw that I saw it, then it just waited for me to go away like I was supposed to.
  5. Sfgwife

    Sfgwife Well-Known Member

    Feb 17, 2018
    North Cakalaki
    Ugh! I feel your pain. Not with bites but with the dumb snakes. In the last four days we have had two ch. ours are young though with a tinny bit of a yellow tail still. So we have a nest somewhere..... but where. :/. But even with fence they will slither through... we have 1/4 inch hardware cloth around our rabbits. The other day one was stuck comin out of it and had hit the hot wire and got fried. Same size and tail as the one under the lean to farther away. So we guess from the same nest.
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  6. Goats Rock

    Goats Rock Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    NE Ohio
    Much as our area is kinda crappy, weather wise and gloomy in winter, we don't have any poisonous snakes. A few years ago, some whack job tried to reintroduce massaga rattlesnakes. (1700's they were indigenous to the area along the river, the early settlers wiped them out). But, the current folks don't care for the massaga snakes and for some reason, they are all gone! (At least around this area).

    How scary to have to worry about snake bites! (Yes, I am a wimp!)
  7. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    How awful, hope you find a solution.

    Poor goats, ouch, hope they will be OK. :(
    mariarose likes this.
  8. happybleats

    happybleats Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2010
    Gustine Texas
    14 years here and never had a goat bit by snakes and this year we had two. And they are saying August and September will be bad with baby copperheads hatching. Im ready with my snake kit. ( Penicillin, Benadryl and Dex) ( have epi too if we need it. )
  9. Nigerian dwarf goat

    Nigerian dwarf goat Well-Known Member

    Sep 24, 2017
    hmm. happybleats is only about 2 hr 45 m from me. I saw (and killed!) a tiny little copperhead under the water trough last week. I do know babies are more dangerous than adults. I dont have many snakes near me, but im definitley going to get a snake bite kit ready.I have alot of bull snakes, but those aint poisonous, and i saw a HUGE chicken snake 2 days ago in the barn that i had to move out to the pasture because its eating my eggs! Here our poisonous snakes are Copper Heads, Cotton mouths, rattlesnakes (never seen one on my property knock on wood), and coral snakes (also never seen)
    toth boer goats likes this.
  10. Goats Rock

    Goats Rock Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    NE Ohio
    I think my snake kit would be a pistol and ammo! The famous SSS's ! Shoot, shovel and shut up! :D

    You all be safe in the snake country!
  11. CCCSAW

    CCCSAW Well-Known Member

    Jul 11, 2019
    Guinea fowl like to chase snakes.... is just a thought. I don't know if they do much for copperheads but rattlers don't like their noise.
  12. New-goat-mom

    New-goat-mom Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2017
    It's strange...it must just be quite a year for snakes in general. I have lived in my house for 6 years. Saw one snake shortly after moving in. Not a single snake of any kind again until this year. I have seen maybe 6. None venomous, but it still seems odd to me. We have copperheads, rattlesnakes, cottonmouth, coral snakes...I live in south Texas. I have a friend that lives fairly close and he keeps finding coral snakes in his yard. It is a strange year!
  13. camooweal

    camooweal Active Member

    Jun 27, 2015
    I've read about bellling goats but snakes are supposed to be deaf … so if that's true, how would they hear a bell ???

  14. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
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  15. Wildcat

    Wildcat Member

    Jul 3, 2019
    NE Kentucky
    Thinking of getting Guineas, but we haven't had the time to set up for them...
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  16. Wildcat

    Wildcat Member

    Jul 3, 2019
    NE Kentucky
    Well, that STINKS! Thanks for the warning though... I'll be on watch!
    happybleats likes this.
  17. Wildcat

    Wildcat Member

    Jul 3, 2019
    NE Kentucky
    See red above :) No, we don't kill the good ones. We do have black, and black rat and my husband has even seen a King snake as well. Thank you for ALL the info!!!! It was so very helpful!
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  18. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    I have Muscovies that don't require much keeping, if you'd be interested.
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  19. Wildcat

    Wildcat Member

    Jul 3, 2019
    NE Kentucky
    First, I am so sorry I didn't get back out here. We were having computer problems and I didn't think this actually posted so I'm VERY grateful it did. Thank you all for the reassurance that this is an oddity. As I am afraid of snakes, this was all around scary for me.

    Petey is very slowly on the mend, but hasn't left the barn. He tried for a few bits to be himself, but then went back into his sick pen and laid up. I don't think it helped the younger billy's were carrying on and scuffling about.

    My biggest question is about the penicillin. Is that necessary if they are showing no signs of infection? Brute took one shot of the steroid and improved quickly. It's been a week and ZERO signs of anything amiss. I never gave him the antibiotic. I don't like to give those unless there is a real need. Petey's swelling is going down slowly, but otherwise he's eating and drinking and there is no signs of infection.

    All the needles just suck. Petey is taking it reasonably well, but tomorrow starts the step down on the Dex and that's several more days of needles.
  20. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    A couple of shots of Banamine would help that swelling.
    Oral Benadryl will also help.
    Edit... I see you've mentioned Dex. Sorry. Nevermind.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019