[Cdt-l] Cdt-l Digest, Vol 39, Issue 42

Brett blisterfree at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 4 12:45:07 CST 2011

On 1/1/2011 8:01 PM, Ed Kerr wrote:
Cattle are peculiar creatures, so different from breed to breed and 
ranch to ranch.  I have some cattle that are very wild and will run when 
they see you from a distance, and then I have cows that will stand there 
and let you ride or walk almost right up to them.  If you watch the 
movie, Temple Grandin, it does a good job in one scene where she lays 
down in the corral and the cattle dome up to her and gather all around 
her.  As curiousity kills the cat, cattle are very curious if they don't 
feel threatened.   That flight signal in them is very strong and seems 
more reactive to movement on "the intruder's" part than anything.  If 
you are still, or move very slowly you can approach are get very close, 
but a quick step, making noise, or even flap your coattail, it will 
cause a fast flight response in a lot of cattle.

On rattlesnakes:   Cattle are seldom bitten by a snake, but when they 
are it is usually in the head or neck, i.e. the grazing animal is slowly 
moving along eating and accidentally provokes an unsuspecting snake, 
which bites.  In my lifetime of being around cattle I have only two 
snakebit cows, but both cases survived although the swelling in 
their head and neck was huge and turned hard and they were along time 
recuperating.  A few years ago I had two yearling colts in the corral at 
my house, I never saw the snake but they both got snakebit in the nose, 
obviuosly their curiousity almost got them,  they must have both been 
curious not knowing what they were looking at and actually reached down 
to smell the snake and got bit.  They both survived but the one I really 
got worried was going to strangle from swelling in the nose and throat.

Now, rattlesnakes here are the most dangerous in August, because they 
are blinded after shedding their skin, so being blind most snakes will 
not rattle, but are listening to locate your approach, which if you are 
not watching, will result in either stepping on or near the snake which 
risks being bit.  The ones that don't do this, react by being very 
aggressive and start rattling when they first here your step....I 
appreciate those much more.  I never walk outside unless I am 
watching the ground where I place my foot.

Has there been much interaction on the CDT with rattlesnakes?

have a great day.

*Ed "Bim" Kerr*
*Kerr Ranch Tours*
edkerr52 at hotmail.com <mailto:edkerr52 at hotmail.com>
*www.kerrranchtours.com <http://www.kerrranchtours.com/>

> I'd just spooked a bunch of cows in the draw
> before climbing up the ridge.   While I was setting up my pad and
> sleeping bag in the tent, seventeen of them lined up side by side about
> 50 yards away staring toward my tent as if to say, "What do you think
> you're doing here."  Sadly they wondered off before I got a chance to
> snap a picture.
> --Handlebar

It seems they do this whenever the light is insufficient to know exactly 
what you are and what you're up to. I've never witnessed this behavior 
in broad daylight; in fact it's the antithesis of the "every cow for 
herself" scattering that usually occurs by day. What's more, the cows 
will actually follow you sometimes, if you're night hiking, always 
maintaining a certain distance behind you, stopping when you stop, 
resuming when you move again. I imagine it's a genetic thing, dating 
back to a time when their wild ancestors encountered large predators in 
Africa and Europe, etc. It may yet serve them well, particularly in 
Arizona where mountain lion predations are sometimes a concern.

I'm curious as to whether rattlesnakes are a concern for cattle. Do they 
respond to the sight or sound of snakes? What are the consequences of 
snakebite in this case? The story goes that poisonous snakes evolved the 
rattle as a form of advertisement to large grazing animals, in order to 
avoid confrontation and the risk of being stepped on. But what are the 
odds of a hiker ever getting to find out firsthand how such an encounter 
would play out?

- blisterfree

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