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Old Jun 11th 2010, 10:43 PM   #1
  Jun 2009
  San Antonio, TX
Today was a thrilling and disheartening day. I am still new to the Deer breeding industry (3rd year) and went to check my deer today and noticed a doe had recently fawned (milk bag bulging and red) and started looking for them. Birth was exactly 195 days post Lap AI to Berrylicious. Triplets, 2 bucks and a doe fawn. Birth must have been within 6 hours as when I tagged the two bucks they do not even bleat (doing well 6 hours later, up and walking short distance). The doe fawn however, was dead. I am still uncertain of the cause. She looked large and healthy. I performed a brief autoposy (unskilled of course) and nothing seemed out of place, even had urine in bladder.

The freightening thing was when I was picking her up, I ran across 2 large rattlesnakes, (both greater than 5 feet) and very swift. My pens are mostly cleared but have a mesquite mott with a large cactus in the middle. I believe this was a mistake as the rats and mice love it, with food and shelter nearby which attracts snakes. I even killed a 56 incher in the pens 3 weeks ago walking around in 2 foot high Lab Lab and grass at midnight, not smart.

Sorry for the long thread, but curious if anyone has ever had fawns killed by rattlesnakes? Could this have been the cause of death or possible fireants as there was a nest nearby (treated of course), birthing problem, dehydration (97 degrees in south Tx today and with triplets less milk, or simply birthing problem. I left feeling very uncomfortable because I was unable to get the snakes (hopefully remedy tomorrow as the snakes went into the large cactus which will be removed with a dozer). The deer are all safely in new pen but am nervous about the stress of changing their environment, especially with new fawns and other does do to drop fawns anyday. Would have preferred to bottle raise but were both bucks and do not wish to bottle raise bucks if possible.

If any thoughts let me know, but be careful this time of year and watch out for snakes.

Kaicreek is offline  
Old Jun 12th 2010, 12:18 AM   #2
  Apr 2009
  Fombell PA
Wow.......sounds like your doing the right thing by getting rid of the cactus.......I do not live in snake country but am certian if the fawn happened to be in the wrong place at the right time the rattler bite would kill it....sounds to me that may have been the case.......good luck with those rattlers!!
ddwhitetails is offline  
Old Jun 12th 2010, 04:55 AM   #3
  Jul 2009
  Raymondville, TX
I don't think that the snake killed your doe fawn. I just can't see the snake viewing a newborn fawn as a threat. I've never had a fawn get bitten but we have 1-3 adult deer get bit every year. The only time a snake bite on an adult deer is a problem is if it is on the feet. They tend to get an infection that is hard to clear up. With all that being said I kill every snake in my pen and try to keep them mowed and sprayed so that I can see my feet when I walk.

Russell Van Hees is offline  
Old Jun 12th 2010, 06:29 AM   #4
  Jun 2009
  San Antonio, TX
Thanks for the response and advice. I also do not think it was a snake bite as I did not find any evidence of internal or muscle necrosis. Thanks for the tip on lime around the pens, I think I will give that a try.

Kaicreek is offline  
Old Jun 12th 2010, 06:51 AM   #5
  Mar 2009
  Blairstown, LA
Either the snakes or the fireants can be deadly to fawns. Generally if the fireants cause the death, the bites are evident around the areas unprotected by hair (rear-end, eyes, ears, etc.) If it was a snake bite, the only way to tell is to skin the fawn and look for trauma where the bite occurred. Here in the deep south, we have cotton-mouths. These snakes account for many death to fawns annually. The snake see's the fawn as a food source, not a threat and if you found a snake near the fawn, it was most likely getting ready to consume it. Yes, large snakes can eat fawns.....
Scott Heinrich is offline  
Old Jun 12th 2010, 08:45 PM   #6
  Jun 2010
  Piqua, OH
I'm actually a reptile freak... I keep pet snakes, lizards, spiders, etc and I run a mid-size reptile enthusiast website. I find it odd that a rattler would bite a fawn, unless it stepped on it or laid down on it...however, I could be mistaken.

I don't think most north American snakes (aside from invasive pythons/boas down in Florida...those are an exception) can swallow a deer fawn...unless it's a REALLY tiny fawn.

I'll repost this thread over on my website and see if any of my members chime in...perhaps they can provide you a bit more info than I can.
blackshirej is offline  
Old Jun 13th 2010, 02:43 AM   #7
  Jun 2010
  Piqua, OH
So far overnight I've gotten two responses for ya...both are from members who I know personally and they're both quite knowledgeable when it comes to snakes...not just a couple kids taking a stab in the dark

if it looked healthy I severely doubt the snakes did it.

there would be swelling and bleeding or SOMETHING out of the ordinary....

not that a rattler couldn't kill one if it felt threatened or something... but if it all looked healthy i really don't think the rattlers would have been cause of death.


Also want to add...unless these fawns are the size of rabbits or smaller...snakes are not seeing them as a food source...ESPECIALLY not cotton mouths...

I don't know how big newborn fawns are but didn't think they were quite that small and I don't even think a monster sized diamond back rattler would view one as prey

There would be very obvious evidence of a rattler bite, bruising, swelling, and bleeding. I doubt it was snake bite am against bulldozing the cactus, not just as a snake loving naturalist, but also if he wants to avoid snake encounters, leaving a place for them to hide is smart, getting rid of a natural spot like that will force the snakes that he doesn't kill directly in the bulldozing to roam the area, INCREASING the likelihood of a deer vs. snake encounter. I suggest leaving the one area that is fit for rodents and snakes to those animals, and monitoring how close his deer come to that spot. put deer licks, food, and water as far away from that spot as possible. It sounds like this advice may be too late, but for the first reason mentioned, I highly doubt it was a snake that killed the newborn.
blackshirej is offline  
Old Jun 13th 2010, 04:41 AM   #8
  Jun 2009
  San Antonio, TX
Thanks to everyone with their suggestions. I did skin the fawn and did not find evidence of obvious trauma. There was an area in the small intestine that was black, ischemic looking. I do not know if this would have the cause (twisted gut) or if that is just what happened since death. Thanks again to everyone.

Kaicreek is offline  
Old Jun 13th 2010, 03:28 PM   #9
  Apr 2009
  Eureka, MO
Buddy in Texas put small opening wire, 4 feet high around his pen it keep the big snakes out .Lime does work
Deepwoods is offline  
Old Jun 13th 2010, 07:44 PM   #10
  Jun 2010
  Piqua, OH
Definitely wasn't a snake bite then... rattler definitely would have left obvious marks that would have been found once skinned.

The folks on my site said there's no way a large rattler could eat a whitetail fawn...possibly some of the smaller species like key deer, but not a whitetail and rattlesnakes are typically pretty hesitant to bite, especially small stuff unless stepped on or startled. They normally will choose to try to escape rather than waste the venom which is used primarily to aid in digestion.

I think you'll find most snakes will usually get out of the way or hide when there are deer nearby...If I recall correctly, studies have shown that areas frequented by horses have a tremendously lower snake population due to the vibration from the horses walking scaring the snakes away from that area. I'd imagine deer would have a similar impact.
blackshirej is offline  
Old Jun 15th 2010, 08:39 AM   #11
  Apr 2009
  West Texas
Josh-thanks for the informative information on snakes! We have about 25 acres of deer pens that are kept mowed yet we still find many rattlesnakes out there. It's just a part of living in West Texas, got to keep an eye out. Came 3 feet from stepping on one stretched out across the road just last night. I was at a good pace and going downhill was kind of late for me to stop. Ran right in front of it and one of my dogs just stepped over him! Yes, heart attack. But there was a storm coming in and he was on the move. Needless to say, being aware of your surroundings and trying to use all preventative methods is not just for our deer's health, but ours as well! :-)

We have multiple snakebites in our adult deer throughout the year and in my past experience at the vet clinics-most large animals that are snake bit are usually bit on the face and every once in awhile on the lower leg. Our adult deer have always been bit on the face and we've had no fatalities due to it. And as mentioned before, there is usually quite a bit of swelling and bruising around the wound.

And what site did you get the information on??
Lisa is offline  
Old Dec 9th 2010, 09:42 AM   #12
  Nov 2010
  Frankfort MI
I looked for snakes all the time when I was a young. I think if you put out a few pieces of plywood laying on the ground.because your snakes are poisonous put a length of rope on tied to the wood .check them every few days . I bet you could blast a few every week.
dearjohn is offline  
Old Aug 11th 2017, 08:34 AM   #13
  Aug 2014
  Montgomery, AL
Have a yearling buck and not exactly sure whats wrong with him. We suspect it might be a snake bite. What are the symptoms?

This guy is weak. No visible injuries or swelling. Holds head up well and ears are alert. When he stands up he is a bit shaky. Will eat corn if thrown on ground in front of his face.

How would you treat a snake bite? Are they often fatal in grown deer?

T-Hat is offline  
Old Aug 11th 2017, 12:36 PM   #14
 Jack's Avatar
  Apr 2009
  Vaughn, MT 59487

Cervid: mule deer,whitetail,elk,goats,bighorn & stone sheep & Alaskan dahl sheep
Not many rattle snakes around by me but they are here now and then in fall when they go to the denning site.
We had a elk cow get bite in the front leg which swelled up to the point it split skin. She was miserable for about a month but got over it by herself.
We have never had a fawn or deer get bite so don't know how they would react.
Jack is offline  

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