Swamp cat

In the winter, many swamp critters stay down in their dens and out of sight.  But if you are as keen-eyed as Nature Girl, the lack of foliage allows you to see some of the critters that are active.

It had been raining almost all month.  The sun came out on Friday, so I left the office at about 2:30 and went home for a quick walk with Snooks before sunset.

You can see that the lane is on an old levee.   This is flat river bottoms country.  The ground to the right is to the west and is about four feet below the elevation of the lane.  The ground to the left is to the east and is about ten feet below the elevation of the lane.  What looks like the end of the lane is a place where the lane slopes down to meet the elevation of the land to the west.   This is about a quarter mile north of Wolf River.

At about the place where the lane slopes down, Snooks pointed off to our right.  There was a cat about thirty feet away.   I would have never seen it if she had not spotted it.

We have been living here for almost two years.   We knew there was a pair of bobcats nearby, but this was my first sighting.   We were only about 500 feet past our back fence.

We did not linger; it would not do to disturb the cat.  We walked on down to the riverbank.  The sun was nearly down.  Here is a picture of the fading sunlight on the trees.

And this is Snooks walking out of the Conservancy woods towards home.   That is our house to the left.

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30 thoughts on “Swamp cat”

  1. 10 Cents:
    What is most dangerous animal in your neck of the woods, Bubba?

    Water moccasins, no? MJB, I just encountered a mere black racer on front walkway and felt grateful but it got the axe (literally) from my husband, the world’s most impressive snake killer in Florida (8). 🙂

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  2. 10 Cents:
    What is most dangerous animal in your neck of the woods, Bubba?

    Ms. EThompson has been reading my posts.  Yes, the water moccasin is the most dangerous critter in our swamp.  Copperheads are also present.   We have observed both slithering in our yard.   A moccasin made its home in a corner of our pond among some water irises.  If I catch it very far from those irises I might kill it; it was getting large.   But it has been really wary and has only been glimpsed when it was in good cover.

    Snooks mulched the flower beds near the house with pine straw to discourage the snakes from getting too close to the house, after she saw a copperhead there.

    But there are also other dangerous predators.   There is a pack of coyotes that mostly lives about four miles west of us that wander through on occasion.  They would be more dangerous than the bobcat since they work as a group.   A neighbor up the street lost a pet cat to the coyotes last year.

    The closest black bear sighting to us was about fifteen miles further out into rural country.

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  3. EThompson:

    10 Cents:
    What is most dangerous animal in your neck of the woods, Bubba?

    Water moccasins, no? MJB, I just encountered a mere black racer on front walkway and felt grateful but it got the axe (literally) from my husband, the world’s most impressive snake killer in Florida (8). 🙂

    Aww, no.   No, no, no.

    You should keep the black racer.  It will help keep down the mice, rats, chipmonks, and moles.   Of course, it is also hard on frogs and lizards.   The thing is, the black racer is no danger to you, and it displaces place in the ecosystem that might otherwise be occupied by one of the vipers.  The more black racers, rat snakes, pine snakes, corn snakes, water snakes, et. al., the better for the likelihood of having fewer water moccasins or copperheads.

    And in your new surrounds, you also have the potential for canebreak canebrake rattlesnakes.   Yikes.

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  4. MJBubba:

    EThompson:

    10 Cents:
    What is most dangerous animal in your neck of the woods, Bubba?

    Water moccasins, no? MJB, I just encountered a mere black racer on front walkway and felt grateful but it got the axe (literally) from my husband, the world’s most impressive snake killer in Florida (8). 🙂

    Aww, no.   No, no, no.

    You should keep the black racer.  It will help keep down the mice, rats, chipmonks, and moles.   Of course, it is also hard on frogs and lizards.   The thing is, the black racer is no danger to you, and it displaces place in the ecosystem that might otherwise be occupied by one of the vipers.  The more black racers, rat snakes, pine snakes, corn snakes, water snakes, et. al., the better for the likelihood of having fewer water moccasins or copperheads.

    And in your new surrounds, you also have the potential for canebreak rattlesnakes.   Yikes.

    This is what everybody tells me but I’m a victim of severe herpetophobia. Besides, I’m hiring fer-de-lance and bushmaster killer Simon Templar to take a look around. 🙂

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  5. EThompson:

    MJBubba:

    EThompson:

    10 Cents:
    What is most dangerous animal in your neck of the woods, Bubba?

    Water moccasins, no? MJB, I just encountered a mere black racer on front walkway and felt grateful but it got the axe (literally) from my husband, the world’s most impressive snake killer in Florida (8). 🙂

    Aww, no.   No, no, no.

    You should keep the black racer.  It will help keep down the mice, rats, chipmonks, and moles.   Of course, it is also hard on frogs and lizards.   The thing is, the black racer is no danger to you, and it displaces place in the ecosystem that might otherwise be occupied by one of the vipers.  The more black racers, rat snakes, pine snakes, corn snakes, water snakes, et. al., the better for the likelihood of having fewer water moccasins or copperheads.

    And in your new surrounds, you also have the potential for canebreak rattlesnakes.   Yikes.

    This is what everybody tells me but I’m a victim of severe herpetophobia. Besides, I’m hiring fer-de-lance and bushmaster killer Simon Templar to take a look around. 🙂

    I bet ST tells you to keep your black racers.

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  6. MJBubba:

    EThompson:

    MJBubba:

    EThompson:

    10 Cents:
    What is most dangerous animal in your neck of the woods, Bubba?

    Water moccasins, no? MJB, I just encountered a mere black racer on front walkway and felt grateful but it got the axe (literally) from my husband, the world’s most impressive snake killer in Florida (8). 🙂

    Aww, no.   No, no, no.

    You should keep the black racer.  It will help keep down the mice, rats, chipmonks, and moles.   Of course, it is also hard on frogs and lizards.   The thing is, the black racer is no danger to you, and it displaces place in the ecosystem that might otherwise be occupied by one of the vipers.  The more black racers, rat snakes, pine snakes, corn snakes, water snakes, et. al., the better for the likelihood of having fewer water moccasins or copperheads.

    And in your new surrounds, you also have the potential for canebreak rattlesnakes.   Yikes.

    This is what everybody tells me but I’m a victim of severe herpetophobia. Besides, I’m hiring fer-de-lance and bushmaster killer Simon Templar to take a look around. 🙂

    I bet ST tells you to keep your black racers.

    I’ll keep you posted. He’s pretty fearless (not unlike Snooks) so I may have to take his advice. 🙂

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  7. Beautiful pictures!
    Bobcats  are truly The Cat That Walks By Itself.  I’ve read that if it’s not mating season, even a male and a female will fight if they encounter each other.
    From my bedroom I saw one stalking majestically by outside our fence one snowy day.  I thought I was seeing  a mountain lion, the creature  had such presence, such measured menace!  But when I went and looked at its tracks, they were tiny, much smaller than a dog, not much bigger than a kitty!
    Beautiful creature!  Fearful symmetry, as Blake wrote of its more exotic cousin.

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  8. Hypatia:
    Beautiful pictures!

    Thanks.  It is just an iPhone, but if you get close enough and hold real still, they turn out good enough for me.   I get about one good one for every thirty I take.  I don’t pretend to be good.

    Bobcats  are truly The Cat That Walks By Itself.  I’ve read that if it’s not mating season, even a male and a female will fight if they encounter each other.

    The bobcats have been sighted several times around the neighborhood.  As far as I know, the only time they were both sighted together was on Jan. 4, when Younger Son spotted them together on our driveway about 9:00 pm.

    From my bedroom I saw one stalking majestically by outside our fence one snowy day.  I thought I was seeing  a mountain lion, the creature  had such presence, such measured menace!  But when I went and looked at its tracks, they were tiny, much smaller than a dog, not much bigger than a kitty!
    Beautiful creature!  Fearful symmetry, as Blake wrote of its more exotic cousin.

    The cat was really cool.  You could say nonchalant.  Snooks had stopped in her tracks to point.  I caught up with her in just a few steps.  I immediately pulled out my phone to take the picture.   The cat did not freeze.  It looked off to its left, then looked back and made eye contact with me.  It did not mind that we whispered to each other, nor that we moved over three steps so I could get a better photo.

    We decided that the cat is used to us.  It probably recognized Snooks, who haunts the swamp, and recognized that she is no threat.  We decided that, though this was our first time seeing it, the cat has probably seen us on several dozen occasions, and was sort of testing us by staying put and looking us over.

    The higher up the food chain you go, the more breathtaking it is to have a close personal encounter.

    Back when we lived in Knoxville and hiked all over the Smoky Mountains and Cherokee Forest we had several close encounters with bears.   That is really cool.

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  9. That’s exactly right.  Prey species, like deer, and horses, flee instantly at the sight or sound of anything they don’t recognize. Predators, like cats and humans and canines, freeze and observe.  Is this something I can eat?  Or is this something which can threaten me?

    Dogs and cats will chase a moving ball (as  long as it’s not too big) ; cattle will be spooked by it.

    That cat was looking at you and Snooks and thinking:   Could I take ‘em? Nah—too big,  I reckon, and there are two of ‘em…

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  10. Are you sure it was a levee?

    You wrote: You can see that the lane is on an old levee.   This is flat river bottoms country.  The ground to the right is to the west and is about four feet below the elevation of the lane.  The ground to the left is to the east and is about ten feet below the elevation of the lane.  What looks like the end of the lane is a place where the lane slopes down to meet the elevation of the land to the west.   This is about a quarter mile north of Wolf River.

    The width and levelness make it look more like an old railroad bed. Railroads followed water level routes, in the old days it was the best route as the grade was usually not severe and steam engines could operate more efficiently following the rivers. Also most cities were established along rivers, so the railroads naturally served them.

    Also is doesn’t make sense that the “levee” presumably has the lower side towards the river and the  upper side continues to slope upwards! What is it protecting?

    Finally, Wisconsin or Tennessee? That would help me to try and determine the answer, levee or roadbed.

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  11. EThompson:

    MJBubba:

    EThompson:

    10 Cents:
    What is most dangerous animal in your neck of the woods, Bubba?

    Water moccasins, no? MJB, I just encountered a mere black racer on front walkway and felt grateful but it got the axe (literally) from my husband, the world’s most impressive snake killer in Florida (8). 🙂

    Aww, no.   No, no, no.

    You should keep the black racer.  It will help keep down the mice, rats, chipmonks, and moles.   Of course, it is also hard on frogs and lizards.   The thing is, the black racer is no danger to you, and it displaces place in the ecosystem that might otherwise be occupied by one of the vipers.  The more black racers, rat snakes, pine snakes, corn snakes, water snakes, et. al., the better for the likelihood of having fewer water moccasins or copperheads.

    And in your new surrounds, you also have the potential for canebreak rattlesnakes.   Yikes.

    This is what everybody tells me but I’m a victim of severe herpetophobia. Besides, I’m hiring fer-de-lance and bushmaster killer Simon Templar to take a look around. 🙂

    Stock up on the antidote, ET! 😜😇

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  12. Hypatia:

    EThompson:

    MJBubba:

    EThompson:

    10 Cents:
    What is most dangerous animal in your neck of the woods, Bubba?

    Water moccasins, no? MJB, I just encountered a mere black racer on front walkway and felt grateful but it got the axe (literally) from my husband, the world’s most impressive snake killer in Florida (8). 🙂

    Aww, no.   No, no, no.

    You should keep the black racer.  It will help keep down the mice, rats, chipmonks, and moles.   Of course, it is also hard on frogs and lizards.   The thing is, the black racer is no danger to you, and it displaces place in the ecosystem that might otherwise be occupied by one of the vipers.  The more black racers, rat snakes, pine snakes, corn snakes, water snakes, et. al., the better for the likelihood of having fewer water moccasins or copperheads.

    And in your new surrounds, you also have the potential for canebreak rattlesnakes.   Yikes.

    This is what everybody tells me but I’m a victim of severe herpetophobia. Besides, I’m hiring fer-de-lance and bushmaster killer Simon Templar to take a look around. 🙂

    Stock up on the antidote, ET! 😜😇

    I don’t think individuals can by buy antivenom.

    What you can do is check your hospital emergency room to see if they have it available to them.   If they don’t, you could suggest it would be a good idea.   They would probably accept a specific donation for the purpose.   I have no idea of the cost, but my guess is that it would be high, since I recall that there was a shortage two years ago.  I don’t know what the current situation is.   Antivenom for the local ER might make a great neighborhood association project.

    There is only one hospital in Memphis with antivenom.   It is the big downtown trauma center.   I am guessing that there is a similar hospital in Jacksonville.

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  13. MJBubba:

    Hypatia:

    EThompson:

    MJBubba:

    EThompson:

    10 Cents:
    What is most dangerous animal in your neck of the woods, Bubba?

    Water moccasins, no? MJB, I just encountered a mere black racer on front walkway and felt grateful but it got the axe (literally) from my husband, the world’s most impressive snake killer in Florida (8). 🙂

    Aww, no.   No, no, no.

    You should keep the black racer.  It will help keep down the mice, rats, chipmonks, and moles.   Of course, it is also hard on frogs and lizards.   The thing is, the black racer is no danger to you, and it displaces place in the ecosystem that might otherwise be occupied by one of the vipers.  The more black racers, rat snakes, pine snakes, corn snakes, water snakes, et. al., the better for the likelihood of having fewer water moccasins or copperheads.

    And in your new surrounds, you also have the potential for canebreak rattlesnakes.   Yikes.

    This is what everybody tells me but I’m a victim of severe herpetophobia. Besides, I’m hiring fer-de-lance and bushmaster killer Simon Templar to take a look around. 🙂

    Stock up on the antidote, ET! 😜😇

    I don’t think individuals can by antivenom.

    What you can do is check your hospital emergency room to see if they have it available to them.   If they don’t, you could suggest it would be a good idea.   They would probably accept a specific donation for the purpose.   I have no idea of the cost, but my guess is that it would be high, since I recall that there was a shortage two years ago.  I don’t know what the current situation is.   Antivenom for the local ER might make a great neighborhood association project.

    There is only one hospital in Memphis with antivenom.   It is the big downtown trauma center.   I am guessing that there is a similar hospital in Jacksonville.

    Thanks very much for the information!

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  14. Hypatia:
    That’s exactly right.  Prey species, like deer, and horses, flee instantly at the sight or sound of anything they don’t recognize. Predators, like cats and humans and canines, freeze and observe.  Is this something I can eat?  Or is this something which can threaten me?

    Dogs and cats will chase a moving ball (as  long as it’s not too big) ; cattle will be spooked by it.

    That cat was looking at you and Snooks and thinking:   Could I take ‘em? Nah—too big,  I reckon, and there are two of ‘em…

    That is the thing, though.  The bobcat did not freeze.  In fact, it very deliberately sent a message that it did not mind that we had spotted it.  It was looking at Snooks when I walked up to her.  It took me half a minute to spot it, even though Snooks was pointing right at it.  When I did spot it, it looked briefly at me, then slowly turned its head ninety  degrees away from us and held that pose more than ten seconds.  Then it slowly turned its head back to us and made eye contact with me.  It sat there and let me take several pictures.

    That bobcat was sending me a signal.  It was not particularly frightened of us.

    The bobcat was projecting an attitude.  It considered us neither a threat nor as prey.  The bobcat knows us; we allow it to hunt on our turf, and it observes as we prowl around on its turf.  We are not competing with it for prey.

    I think that bobcat was letting me know it considers me to be its equal.

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  15. I live in the low country of South Carolina just 9 miles north of Charleston in the city of Mt Pleasant population 90,000. We have lots of green space and swamps. My street backs up to a 750 acre undeveloped Park. We have many alligators and snakes. Deer eat the flowers of my porch. I hear coyotes at night and see foxes. Hawks and ospreys fly over head all the time. The creeks are full of fish , crabs and oyster. I have not seen any bobcats but bet they are around.

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  16. G.D.:
    Are you sure it was a levee?

    You wrote: You can see that the lane is on an old levee.   This is flat river bottoms country.  The ground to the right is to the west and is about four feet below the elevation of the lane.  The ground to the left is to the east and is about ten feet below the elevation of the lane.  What looks like the end of the lane is a place where the lane slopes down to meet the elevation of the land to the west.   This is about a quarter mile north of Wolf River.

    The width and levelness make it look more like an old railroad bed. Railroads followed water level routes, in the old days it was the best route as the grade was usually not severe and steam engines could operate more efficiently following the rivers. Also most cities were established along rivers, so the railroads naturally served them.

    Also is doesn’t make sense that the “levee” presumably has the lower side towards the river and the  upper side continues to slope upwards! What is it protecting?

    Finally, Wisconsin or Tennessee? That would help me to try and determine the answer, levee or roadbed.

    This is the Wolf River in Tennessee.   There never was a railroad through this area.  The lane is on a County Right-of-Way that is an extension of the paved road that runs through our neighborhood.  The road is quite old; the church at the front of the neighborhood has a cemetery with graves that date back to the 1850s.   It was used for logging from that time until the depression.   During the 1930s some of the river bottoms was cleared for row crop farming.  Those were tough times and every possible corner was put to use.

    But the bottoms flood, and so it was not possible to raise cotton there.  After the flood waters recede, there is only enough growing season time to raise beans or perhaps field corn.

    In the mid-1950s the Corps of Engineers dredged out the Wolf River and channelized it.   That made flooding less likely and dramatically reduced the swamp area.

    So, actually what I call a levee never served to separate uplands from lowlands.  The extension of the road down across the bottoms to the river was done at the time of the Corps of Engineers project.  What it does is block spring floodwaters and divert them back down to the main river channel.   It serves more as a diversion berm than as a true levee.  Having a road on top was probably intended to support continued logging, but the only time the area was logged since those days was in the mid- 1980s.

    Because of the short growing season, some time in the 1960s crop farming ceased and the area was used as pasture.   Then the Wolf River Conservancy partnered with the County to acquire the land, and they are letting it grow wild again.  I wrote a few months ago about the thickets around the edge of our swamp.   They have been growing up for twelve years now and are nearly impenetrable.   Eventually the trees will thin out and grow to mature size.

    Our Conservancy woods have a variety.  A piney woods, hardwood forest, beaver swamps and the thickets.  Good habitat for a bobcat.

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  17. PhCheese:
    I live in the low country of South Carolina just 9 miles north of Charleston in the city of Mt Pleasant population 90,000. We have lots of green space and swamps. My street backs up to a 750 acre undeveloped Park. We have many alligators and snakes. Deer eat the flowers of my porch. I hear coyotes at night and see foxes. Hawks and ospreys fly over head all the time. The creeks are full of fish , crabs and oyster. I have not seen any bobcats but bet they are around.

    Oh, yeah, alligators.   Another swamp critter for Ms. EThompson to watch out for.

    There have only been two sightings of alligators in the Wolf River, both about six years ago.  One was a small alligator down in Memphis; it was probably somebody who brought one up from Mississippi as a prank.   But the headwaters of Wolf River are in the Holly Springs National Forest in northern Mississippi.   That was where the other alligator sighting was.   Global warming might well be bringing alligators our way.   If so, our swamp will be one of the most attractive sites for them along the river.

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  18. MJBubba:
    Oh, yeah, alligators.   Another swamp critter for Ms. EThompson to watch out for.

    No worries. We looked at beautiful property in this preserve around a marsh/lake and didn’t think twice about passing. We’ve lived in Florida too long so we know better. 🙂

    We’re both outdoorsy types so I don’t ever want to feel afraid of roaming around my yard or swimming in the pool. Speaking of which, I have been indoors for the better part of two weeks with 45 degree temp outside and have developed a serious case of cabin fever.

    We have a lot of peace and quiet and beautiful natural environment, but I despise cold weather, boots, coats and sweaters. I’m missing my bathing suits and flip flops!

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  19. MJBubba:

    Hypatia:

    EThompson:

    MJBubba:

    EThompson:

    10 Cents:
    What is most dangerous animal in your neck of the woods, Bubba?

    Water moccasins, no? MJB, I just encountered a mere black racer on front walkway and felt grateful but it got the axe (literally) from my husband, the world’s most impressive snake killer in Florida (8). 🙂

    Aww, no.   No, no, no.

    You should keep the black racer.  It will help keep down the mice, rats, chipmonks, and moles.   Of course, it is also hard on frogs and lizards.   The thing is, the black racer is no danger to you, and it displaces place in the ecosystem that might otherwise be occupied by one of the vipers.  The more black racers, rat snakes, pine snakes, corn snakes, water snakes, et. al., the better for the likelihood of having fewer water moccasins or copperheads.

    And in your new surrounds, you also have the potential for canebreak rattlesnakes.   Yikes.

    This is what everybody tells me but I’m a victim of severe herpetophobia. Besides, I’m hiring fer-de-lance and bushmaster killer Simon Templar to take a look around. 🙂

    Stock up on the antidote, ET! 😜😇

    I don’t think individuals can by buy antivenom.

    What you can do is check your hospital emergency room to see if they have it available to them.   If they don’t, you could suggest it would be a good idea.   They would probably accept a specific donation for the purpose.   I have no idea of the cost, but my guess is that it would be high, since I recall that there was a shortage two years ago.  I don’t know what the current situation is.   Antivenom for the local ER might make a great neighborhood association project.

    There is only one hospital in Memphis with antivenom.   It is the big downtown trauma center.   I am guessing that there is a similar hospital in Jacksonville.

    Not sure about your contention on anti-venom. When I was in a unit that went to Honduras for deployments, I bought a bunch of fer-de-lance anti-venom, which I took with me down there. They have bushmasters there, which are in the fer-de-lance family, as are rattlers. I ended up donating it to the local general hospital, which had none. They got bushmaster bites there. Indeed, the Hondo’s killed a bushmaster in their part of the camp while we were there.

    My personal view is that the only good snake is a dead snake.

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  20. OK, the internet is awesome.

    Here is a year-old article about the global situation regarding antivenom.  It talks about how there are different antivenoms for different groups of snakes, and how antivenom is a low-demand, low-supply product.

    https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/features/antivenom-supply-snake-bites/

    Here is an article about a new antivenom product (from a Tennessee company) that first became available last year.

    https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-health/2019/03/06/phoenix-man-samuel-evans-first-test-new-us-rattlesnake-anti-venom/3062483002/

    Here is an antivenin that is available for your dog.  Antivenin is not as effective as antivenom.

    https://entirelypetspharmacy.com/antivenim-10-ml.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9czy9qPq5wIVg8DACh3NFggEEAQYAiABEgLycfD_BwE

    Here is an article with info about the process required to buy exotic antivenoms for snakes from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

    https://www.reptilegardens.com/scales-and-tales/article/antivenin-vs-antivenom

    These guys sell stable freeze-dried antivenoms:

    https://polyserptherapeutics.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIqc-egKfq5wIVUb7ACh2mjwGdEAMYASAAEgJNdfD_BwE

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  21. Devereaux:
    My personal view is that the only good snake is a dead snake.

    Ms. EThompson would agree with you.

    But wise farmers know that there are snakes and then there are snakes.  Most nonvenomous snakes are really welcome around a farm.  I would welcome more nonvenomous snakes around my part of the swamp.

    Snakes are your friend.  Except the ones with poisonous bites.

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  22. MJBubba:
    OK, the internet is awesome.

    Here is a year-old article about the global situation regarding antivenom.  It talks about how there are different antivenoms for different groups of snakes, and how antivenom is a low-demand, low-supply product.

    https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/features/antivenom-supply-snake-bites/

    Here is an article about a new antivenom product (from a Tennessee company) that first became available last year.

    https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-health/2019/03/06/phoenix-man-samuel-evans-first-test-new-us-rattlesnake-anti-venom/3062483002/

    Here is an antivenin that is available for your dog.  Antivenin is not as effective as antivenom.

    https://entirelypetspharmacy.com/antivenim-10-ml.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9czy9qPq5wIVg8DACh3NFggEEAQYAiABEgLycfD_BwE

    Here is an article with info about the process required to buy exotic antivenoms for snakes from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

    https://www.reptilegardens.com/scales-and-tales/article/antivenin-vs-antivenom

    These guys sell stable freeze-dried antivenoms:

    https://polyserptherapeutics.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIqc-egKfq5wIVUb7ACh2mjwGdEAMYASAAEgJNdfD_BwE

    We went to Honduras for deployments back in the 80’s. Things sure have changed since then, though probably not in Honduras. Still a dirt poor country. I’ll have to read all your well-researched items later.

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