Dawgs & Snakes

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G'day blokes & Ladies,

I chose this topic because I know that most outdoor blokes are usually accompanied by a dog or two or three. Here in Australia - no matter in which state we're situated - we have a constant problem that at any tick of the clock you'll happen across a snake (a 'Joe Blake' to use the vernacular). Many of our snakes are as venomous and as deadly as the variety of rattlesnakes you have in the USA (yes, I watch regularly the 'I've Been Bitten', TV presentations which are based primarily in California).

I spend a lot of my time in the bush here in Victoria - mostly in the ironbark forests which surround my home town - and in winter it's great for prospecting and although chilly at night, it makes for very comfortable prospecting temperature during the days. During all these expeditions my dog 'Roo (so named because he started life with a red nose, aka Rudolf, and not because he chases kangaroos) accompanies me and is a constant companion. Believe me, we've had many deep conversations and I know he understands every bloody word I say.

Anyway, to get back to 'Roo my Labrador, in keeping with his breed which like many other hunting dogs, has a nose par excellence for whatever tastes good - or represents danger. I first noticed his nose for reptiles in our garden where he picked up on a blue tongued lizard, which is a harmless lizard about 12 inches long max, fairly thick in the body and will hiss when threatened by a Labrador (well, who wouldn't?). Well anyway this lizard is one of many which inhabits our gardens and does a heap of good by eating snails and slugs. Well 'Roo hated the poor bugger, eventually found it and mauled it to death, appeared to be proud of himself, grinned at me (the bloody murderer) and has been able to pick up on a snake ever since.

Not too well known, but to a good dog a snake smells bad. Here in Oz at least, if you scrape a knife backward along a mature snake's scales you'll often find mites, fleas and other parasites. Dogs smell these and appear to know they're facing danger. Be this as it may - and whether I'm right or wrong - as long as my mutt barks at night to tell me of the proximity of a snake- or any other human predator - I'll be as happy as a pig in poo.



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