Rattlesnake Kills Pennsylvania Man

Tad Arensmeier/Creative Commons

Not a common occurrence in Pennsylvania, according to the article. The state is home to both the timber rattler and the Eastern massasauga; the former, a largish species of rattlesnake, would seem to be the culprit in this case, judging from range maps and its well-attested history as a dangerous snake. This man suffered an allergic reaction; the same bite would have had milder effects on most people.  

Man dies after being bitten by rattlesnake while camping - WHP CBS 21 Harrisburg - Top Stories: "Authorities say a western Pennsylvania man died after he was bitten by a rattlesnake while sitting near a campfire.

Armstrong County Coroner Brian Myers says 39-year-old Russell Davis, of Freedom, Beaver County, was camping with his family Saturday in Weedville, Elk County. He was bitten shortly before midnight."

Thanks to Steve V. for the news tip. 

Spiders Eating Birds and Snakes

Thanks to Kaycie Anderson, a student in my Monsters Unleashed class, who shared this photo she took in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This came up when we were discussing Erckmann-Chatrian's story "The Waters of Death," concerning an arachnid that dines out of its weight class. The spider pictured here--the golden-silk orb-weaver, Nephila clavipes--isn't the kind meant in the story, but it does occasionally take vertebrates as prey. Here is its close cousin from Australia taking a snake:

. . . and a bird:

Erckmann and Chatrian call their critter a crab-spider (or spider-crab in some translations), but they aren't talking about the harmless family of spiders currently known by that name (see D'Arcy's gorgeous close-ups of a crab spider here). They surely meant massive spiders like the Goliath bird-eater:

Snakecollector/Creative Commons

For any arachnid, capturing a bird is a rare event. . . but it does happen.

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