Mountain biker bitten by rattlesnake in rare attack

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Mountain biker bitten by rattlesnake in rare attack

Post  Admin on Tue Aug 28, 2012 1:44 am

A lot of risks come with mountain bike riding the Front Range. Broken bones, dehydration, flat tires, jagged rocks and cactus are all threats that accompany any ride. However, there is another risk that may go overlooked because it isn’t always as obvious: snakes.

With summer coming to a close, it is a prime time for rattlesnake activity along the Front Range as they prepare to mate before going into hibernation later this year.

For the second time in 15 years, a mountain biker riding along Devil’s Backbone in Larimer County was bitten by a rattlesnake two weeks ago. A rattlesnake sitting just off the path struck him in the lower leg as he rode past, said Travis Rollins, operations manager for the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources.

The man continued riding, thinking he had been stuck by a yucca plant, before the pain sunk in and he saw the puncture wounds. He then went back and saw the snake coiled near the trail, Rollins said.

The man was riding with his nephew near sunset when the attack occurred outside of cell phone range. The man was able to ride to the trailhead where he was taken to the hospital and treated.

Mating season
In the heat of the summer, trail users are less likely to see a snake than they are now. Bob Reed, U.S. Geological Survey Research Wildlife Biologist, said this time of year is the peak of rattlesnake activity because the males are searching for a mate.

Last week, Reed came across a rattlesnake on a rock in the middle of the trail while riding his mountain bike behind Hughes Stadium. Reed let the snake alone and avoided becoming a bite statistic.

When it comes to rattlesnake bites, there are legitimate types, where the person is struck without knowing the snake was there, and illegitimate types, where a person — typically a young male — will see the snake and try to mess with it.

“Illegitimate is where a human interacts with a snake,” he said. “Most are males between 18 to 30. It’s more a testosterone problem than a venom problem.”

Approximately 75 percent of all snakebites occur in people ages 19 to 30 years old. Approximately 40 percent of all snakebites occur in people who are handling or playing with snakes, and 40 percent of all people bitten had a blood alcohol level of greater than 0.1 percent. Sixty-five percent of snakebites occur on the hand or fingers; 24 percent on the foot or ankle; and 11 percent elsewhere, according to city of Boulder records.

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