Type - Rattle Snakes , Mohican Spider , Mountain Lions , Cougars , Dogs ,

Rattle Snakes

John Davis

It is worth remembering that the rattlers do not have to coil to strike. If you step on their tail, they can strike back on their body position right at the thing holding them down.

The coiled position could be viewed more as a comfortable position to keep them warm and as a defensive position rather than an offensive position.

As Suzy says, her snake was ready for the next runner. Suzy probably surprised it but it was fully awake for the next opportunity.

Suzi "T" Cope

One of my favorite ultra running partners was bitten by a rattlesnake this morning while out for his midweek short mileage! Here we were just last week talking on line about the likelihood of a rattlesnake strike, and wham-O, proof positive.

The comments made about the most frequent victim being male certainly held true here, as this guy is a bonafide stud. The bite zone though was neither the hand nor arm as predicted, but in the face! I guess he got up-close-and-personal before realizing the danger, as the fang marks are about 1/4 inch below his right eye.

The rattler was a small presumably young snake, which we are told are more likely to strike as they are more quickly frightened, and often can pack a real venom wallop.

Fortunately this guy was not alone during his jog near my parents home in Camino California. Two friends, and my Dad were along and got him to the emergency room within 15-20 minutes of the bite. Camino is just East of Placerville, off Highway 50, in similar terrain to most of WS 100. This rattlesnake was in grass trail side within 50 feet of a road, sidewalk, and elementary school.

The doctor treated him with antivenin and steroids intravenously as the first line of defense. The threat of immediate shock passed in the first hour, though he was in considerable pain, drooling, and unable to sit or lay down in comfort. He was kept in the hospital on IV fluids through the day and was then sent home about 5 PM tonight on antibiotics and bed rest. The swelling is severe, creating the appearance of a post Joe Fraser bout on the right side of his face. His chin is disappearing, and it looks like soon the chest area will be swollen as well.

Mohican Spider
Jay Hodde

This is mainly directed to those who ran or know of somebody who ran the Mohican 100 last weekend.

When I opened one of my drop bags from the race, I found a spider looking at me. This normally wouldn't cause me alarm, but I immediately noticed the **Violin-shaped markings** on its brown back and realized what I had crawling through my wet clothes: A Brown Recluse spider.

The brown recluse spider is one of the few poisonous spiders in the US. It's bite causes tissue necrosis and skin ulcers that spread from the area of the bite, usually within the first 2-3 weeks following attack. The venom "eats you from within". It destroys the connective tissue in the area and damages red blood cells. First signs of nausea, dizziness, headache, and minor pain usually occur within 24-36 hours. It is about the size of a US nickel and has markings on its back that look like a violin.

The spider is actually more common in the southern states, but considers the entire US its home.

I just thought you might want to warn others to check their belongings and be aware that some of the animals they might have brought back with them could be dangerous.

Mountain Lions
Larry Gassan

In the main, Mt. Lions are more interested in eating game [deer, rabbits, poodles, idiot children] than adult humans.

However, encroaching urbanization has changed the rules somewhat. And being smart animals, they learn that post-Disney humans are not terribly bright...


  1. Always look REAL BIG [IE standing tall, waving arms, shouting, etc]

  2. NEVER run from them. All this does is tell them that you are a prey item.

  3. As a corollary to #2, never run with headphones. The click you hear might save your life, as well as when you cross the street...

Aside from that, you got to see a magnificent specimen of a normally reclusive higher-level predator necessary to check other fecund species.


Kevin Sayers

From: Mount Rainier National Park Home Page


Kevin Keply

Kevin O'Neall asks about cougar repellant. I always run and hike with a can of pepper spray. I can get the brand name for you if you like. It is advertised as bear deterrent. They are very careful to call it deterrent, rather than repellant, apparently because some individuals were spraying it on themselves to keep the bears away (well, that's what you do with insect repellant, right?). It is supposed to give the bear something else to think about besides you. Presumably, it would work on any creature with a sensitive sinus system. I know a guy in the Air Force that received the "training" on it's use, and he assures me it is VERY effective. I don't let it give me a false sense of security, though. I try to avoid situations where I might need to use it. If I should ever encounter such a situation and have it fail, well I guess that's just a reminder that our position at the top of the food chain it tenuous at best.

Anyway, I "tested" it one day. It looked like I was going to encounter a dog that was going to give me a problem. Before that happened, I squirted off a blast to see if it was functioning. It puts out a cone shaped blast of pepper. It turned out the dog wasn't a problem and I put it away. It was a hot day, and I wiped my face with my hand. There must have been the tiniest bit of back spray on my finger, cause a few minutes later my face began to burn with a real intensity. I don't ever want to find out what a full blast of this stuff would be like!

George Beinhorn

By the time a cougar gets close enough to spray it with any standard repellant, you might be in serious trouble. I did see a film once that showed a young male mountain goat in an encounter with a cougar. The goat stood its ground and kept butting the cougar, which eventually got discouraged and went away. This makes me think cougars are "discourageable." Just a question of how. Funny that people haven't studied this they way they've studied shark repellants. Who knows? Maybe .22 blanks would do.


Local folks (DOW, USFS, etc) carry a can of special repellent for big cats; it is stronger than pepper spray and a lot more expensive (about $50 a can). But I like the idea of eyes in the back of your head... And then there's always the trees, assuming you can shinny with bare legs

There are always lots of cougar stories around here, but I heard a story last summer about a runner who was going up one of the local jeep trails when he got a prickly feeling in the back of his neck and, turning, saw that he was being stalked by a cougar. Sudden adrenaline, and desperate review of all the literature ("look humble? or get as big as I can? drop my eyes? or stare back??"). He began walking up the road backwards, trying not to go too fast or too slow, until he reached a climb-able tree. He climbed it and... was obliged to spend the night there. Keep that in mind when you're out in the "wilds." Maybe standard running attire should include cowboy chaps. Linda, SE Boulder.

Andy Holak

Along the same lines as George's comments regarding the mountain goat discouraging the cougar by butting it mercilessly, humans should also fight back aggressively if attacked by a Cougar. Unlike Grizzly Bear encounters, when playing dead works best (I could find the literature to back up that statement;), fighting back is the best method to ward off a Cougar attack (per USFS, NPS literature). I've often thought of carrying a big stick with me while running in Cougar country, and when I get spooked on a trail run in Cougar country, I begin searching the ground for big sticks, just in case! I've heard stories of people beating cougars off with sticks. A case in Glacier National Park involved a young boy (~8 or 9) who was attacked by a Cougar while running towards a parking lot from a shoreline area. His parents beat the Cougar off with sticks and lots of screaming.

But, I suppose if they get you around the throat right away, you may not have enough time to fight back. It may be a good idea to protect the throat area when attacked, as big cats often strangle their prey before consuming it. If anyone knows that this is a false statement, please let me know. I find the idea of running with a mask on the back of the head intriguing. I wonder if it would work with cougars. Even though I know the probability of being attacked by a Cougar is extremely small, I still get the Heeby-Jeebies when I run in Cougar country. Anyone ever use the mask on the back of the head technique, or hear of its effectiveness?

Randy Gehrke

I was going to comment on the cougar issue after reading all 4 days of my e-mail but I will piggy back my comments on what Andy has said. If you are attacked by a cougar, you only have one option and that is to fight back! I'm sure everyone has seen the "never give up!" cartoons and it should always be remembered when confronted with a cougar or black bear attack. If one is just exposed to an "encounter", there are several ways to address it. Cats as well as other predators are very prey driven and have an immense "chase" drive. Basically they love to chase things and an ultra runner would classify as one of those things. So you need to be aware of your surroundings and an attack would most likely come from the rear or it could happen when one surprised an animal such as rounding a corner. So stop running and eliminate the "chase" and then you can deal with the "encounter." I know from personal grizzly "encounters" that my very first reaction was to run like hell!!! It was extremely hard to stand your ground but it has always worked for me and just to let them know where and who you are. And I have also heard that sometimes this does not work but its in the minority. As for deterrent spray, I am a police officer in a large metropolitan area and have used the "pepper spray" many times and I have never not seen it work. It works very well on humans and on animals. I have also used the "mace" products before "pepper spray" and it has not worked in some instances. I highly recommend the "pepper spray" for animal and human protection. You need to make sure that the ingredients contain "OC" in at least a 10 percent solution. "OC" is the abbreviation for (and I'm sure that I'm not spelling this right) olepsium capsicum. Anyway this is the ingredient that is vital and the bear sprays contain a higher percentage of OC. Bottom line, its easy to carry and at least its something. There are also lots of different kinds of "animals" on the trails and you never know who or what you may run across.


Pat Wellington

This from the U.S. Postal Service during National Dog Bite Prevention Week:

How to Avoid being bitten:

  1. Don't run past a dog. The dog's natural instinct is to chase and catch prey.

  2. If a dog threatens you, don't scream. Avoid eye contact, try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.

  3. Don't approach a strange dog, especially one that's tied or confined.

  4. Always let a dog see and sniff you before you pet the animal.