Ranger Kathryn's Arches

September 17, 2010

Rattlesnake 1, Frenchman -15

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 11:42 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I had not been back from the wilderness for even an hour this morning when the radio started to crackle. Soon I heard an ambulance racing up into the park, lights and sirens ablaze. A tour bus full of French visitors had stopped at Balanced Rock, one of our least dangerous and most innocuous locations. One unfortunate 63-year-old had stepped off the sidewalk by about fifteen feet to click a photo, and was bitten in the ankle by a rattlesnake. He was already having difficulty talking and had a pulse of 150. The local hospital couldn’t help him much, as antivenin is available only if one knows exactly which species inflicted the bite*, so he was helicoptered to Grand Junction, Colorado. I expect he’ll be in the hospital for a week or ten days and then have a long, slow convalescence. Kind of ruins his American vacation.

Was it one of our shy Midget Faded Rattlesnakes? They are nocturnal, except that sometimes the males are out scouting for new territory this time of year and perhaps one was just there to get stepped on. Or, perhaps it was an atypical species of rattler (not our small shy one) that was just passing through. It makes treating the victim difficult.

You don’t want to mess with our Midget Faded. Shy, yes; benign, no. Their neurotoxin is one of the most potent of rattlesnake venoms. The typical effect of a bite from a Crotalus species is similar to most viper bites with massive edema (swelling) and tissue destruction. I hope the man from France recovers fully and quickly.

This is only the second known venomous snakebite in our national park, but the maps around here are filled with place names like “Rattlesnake Canyon.” I guess if you come to Utah, you’re taking a risk…

*(see comment #3 below)

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7 Comments »

  1. Are you serious? Only the second? Holy crap! Glacier AVERAGES one grizzly attack a year. I was there 5 years ago for the “annual” attack…..

    Comment by john — September 18, 2010 @ 7:27 am | Reply

  2. I heard that Dale’s brother Allen stopped in to see you yesterday. He said that you are really loving your job. Plus that it was really nice to meet somebody that he really knows as a Park Ranger. That area is one of his favorite spots. Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk with him.

    Comment by chris — September 18, 2010 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

    • Fun to meet him — I only wish I had had a bit of time to spend with him and hear of his adventures!

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — September 18, 2010 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

  3. Ua?? That’s not entirely true Ranger Kathryn, the anti venom CroFab is designed to treat all species of Crotalus (Rattlesnakes) from the least toxic Sidewinder to the deadliest Eastern Dimondback! I have studded Rattlesnake for 20 years, I have even been to your wonderful park in search of the shy ones! I have found over 30 in 6 trips from 2009 to 2011. They are pretty common if you know where and when to look.

    Comment by Mj.Franetovich — February 11, 2012 @ 5:27 am | Reply

    • studyed’ darn predict type…hahaha!!! I hope you don’t think I’m being a jerk! I would hate for some one in your position to be misleading…. I would be heppy to meet with you at the visitor center in June when I return for my next survey..

      Comment by Mj.Franetovich — February 11, 2012 @ 5:43 am | Reply

      • THANK YOU for writing! I truly appreciate comments from experts because, no matter how hard I try to be accurate (and I am diligent to do that) it is not possible for me to always have precise or cutting-edge information. I appreciate your input and am adding an asterisk to the blog content to direct people to this note. My info was obtained from the local Emergency Medical Technicians. I would be delighted to meet you in June when you arrive, and I am grateful that you took the time to comment.

        Comment by Kathryn Burke — February 11, 2012 @ 10:06 am

  4. http://www.crofab.com/

    Have a look at this it may be helpful, don’t worry you have permission!

    It may be late June before I get that far east, but I am a man of my word, I’m trying to talk my wife into coming with me and staying in St.George I’m going to wonder around Snow canyon and I might just happen up on a Banded Gila monster, Utah’a rarest Reptile to find in the wild, I have only seen one (Paradise Canyon).

    Comment by Mj.Franetovich — February 11, 2012 @ 12:05 pm | Reply


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