• July 23, 2014

Feral hogs, rattlesnakes: Questions, answers

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Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 11:55 pm

Many of us have heard stories by word of mouth and chain emails concerning a supposedly new phenomenon related to the behavior of native rattlesnakes of the south and southwest, alongside the presence of a growing number of the more recently introduced feral hogs.

The story goes that a thriving and growing population of feral hogs in this region has introduced a new behavior in rattlesnakes to generally cease from rattling in order to avoid detection by the hogs that are supposedly known to charge at a rattlesnake giving such a warning, as a desired source of food.

This theory assumes rattlesnakes are known or proven to have previously rattled more often before the increase in hog population than they have in recent years. Some have said, though, that rattlesnakes simply do not rattle that often---only as a last resort when directly provoked.

It also implies that the snakes must have each personally or nearly encountered a threatening herd of feral hogs a number of times in order to develop this new behavior of self-preservation.

If this was true, and these snakes previously survived these early encounters before the new learned behavior, would they see hogs as posing a serious threat at all?

It also seems the popular emails devoted to this subject lose some credibility when comparing their stories to their attached photos. The most common emails, with stories related to Texas, feature a photo of a giant eastern diamond-backed rattlesnake, which is native primarily to Georgia and Florida. Some have rarely been spotted in eastern Louisiana, but certainly not in a natural setting in Texas.

It has been documented that feral hogs have been known to eat rattlesnakes, but this is apparently the exception and not the rule.

I’ll admit that before some research I had not experienced or learned enough about this subject to begin to form a personal opinion. After this research, though, I found that my peers make some compelling arguments based upon evidence and personal experiences.

I’m left with the opinion that this phenomenon is not impossible or absolutely discredited, but that it is unlikely to be true.

With a few exceptions by county regulation, there is no closed season for the hunting of feral hogs, as their prevalence and destruction to ranch and farm operations is common and widely known throughout the state. And as for rattlesnakes, well, you be the judge.

It would be interesting to gain some new insight on this subject from some folks who may have personally observed the behavior of either of these two species recently or over a number of years. 

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8 comments:

  • Shawn Paul posted at 10:14 pm on Thu, Dec 19, 2013.

    Shawn Paul Posts: 34

    It's always better to be safe than to be sorry, Dub. Thanks for the comment.

     
  • Dub posted at 7:19 am on Tue, Dec 17, 2013.

    Dub Posts: 4

    I think this story will make me be more aware when I walk in the pasture!

     
  • Shawn Paul posted at 11:10 pm on Mon, Dec 16, 2013.

    Shawn Paul Posts: 34

    You're welcome, crios. I hope that this blog post offered some perspective to this subject of discussion. Thank you for inspiring the subject matter for this post. As for this rumor, I'd say that regardless of its credibility, it makes for good Texas storytelling in any case.

     
  • Shawn Paul posted at 11:02 pm on Mon, Dec 16, 2013.

    Shawn Paul Posts: 34

    It sounds like you received some good advice, awilson. We can't always rely on what we hear, so we also need to pay attention to what we see, as well as what all our other senses can alert us to. Thanks for your comment.

     
  • crios posted at 8:55 pm on Mon, Dec 16, 2013.

    crios Posts: 14

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I was really wondering about the credibility of these stories. I find your observations very informative. If this phenomenon were true, it would certainly make for good Texas storytelling! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

     
  • awilson posted at 9:44 pm on Sun, Dec 15, 2013.

    awilson Posts: 9

    Its hard to imagine a rattlesnake that don't rattle. I'm go they do so I can stay clear. I was taught as child when out hiking keep your eyes on the growing. You never know what you'll step on!

     
  • Shawn Paul posted at 10:15 pm on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    Shawn Paul Posts: 34

    I'm also a fan, sir. It's the best part, in my humble opinion. Thanks for the comment, rudeman.

     
  • rudeman posted at 12:32 pm on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    rudeman Posts: 5

    The only good hog is sausage.