Having just added a post about the scarcity of rattlesnakes and encounters with them, I find I must amend that post. Yesterday, on a trek up the side of a hill I’ve been up hundreds of times, I happened upon two Prairie Rattlesnakes within 40 feet of one another. This particular hillside and I have been good friends for over a quarter of a century. In all that time I have only gotten brief glimpses of what might have been rattlesnakes on three occasions. I say BRIEF glimpses because the reptiles in question are hastening away from me at top speed when I see them. That’s the way I like it: they go their way, I go mine. A case of mutual respect. They are fast enough that photographing them when they’ve decided they don’t want to be photographed is impossible. Unless, of course, you are foolhardy enough to try to pursue one through waist-high vegitation interspersed with handy rocks and boulders from which such a creature could launch an ambush. On this particular day the first snake I encountered was doing what they do: leaving very quickly. The second one however decided to pose for a few photos. Sequestered in a nice rock overhang, he/she was in a perfect spot for ambushing hikers, dogs or hapless rodents. I’ve included two rather aggressive crops of photos of this animal’s head and nine-button tail with the expected loss of detail and quality. This particular snake will forever be known as old-blue-eyes to me, for obvious reasons.
While I still maintain that encounters between humans and rattlesnakes are fairly rare, the rest of my day on the hillside was spent moving more slowly than usual and watching where I put my feet. By the way, I know practically nothing about rattlesnakes except that one can wreck your whole day in the blink of an eye. Speaking of eyes, what was up with that spooky blue eye? A bit of research revealed that rattlesnakes preparing to shed their skins go through a blue-eyed phase prior to the event. Perhaps he was hanging around for the photo shoot because he couldn’t see me very well. If you’ve an interest in dangerous snakes in the U.S. here’s a fascinating site I happened upon called Snake-Buddies.
Sites specific to the Prairie Rattlesnake are here and here.