Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Watch Your Step!

I've been busy - working on the garden, my volunteer activities, and taking part in my first political forum last night. I'll write about those things here eventually, I'm sure, but wanted to post these pictures a friend sent me a couple of days ago.

The first one just looks like one of our typical dry, high-desert chaparral hillsides, doesn't it? Nothing really very remarkable, is there? Or is there? Take a closer look, right there in the middle of the picture (for a closer look, you can click on any of the photos, or just keep reading).

These photos were taken a couple of weeks ago, a few miles north and east of here. When you get a bit closer, you can see that's not just a differently-colored pile of dirt down in that hole (I don't know that I would even get close enough to have taken these photos - gives me the willies just looking at them). It's alive! And moving!

It's an entire den of Great Basin rattlesnakes, just waking up from their winter's hibernation, out for a bit of sun. Now I don't really mind having a snake around. I don't care for the "startle" factor when I first see one, but for the most part they can really be quite helpful keeping the rodent population down. We've had a little gopher snake out under our shed for the past couple of years, and he's actually quite cute when he does his rattlesnake imitation - he'll curl up and shake his naked little tail and hiss.

But real rattlesnakes are a different story. If we get one around the place, we'll try relocating it - Aries will gently pick it up with a long stick and carry it down the road to the open hillsides. But some like the easier pickin's around the chicken coop (the mice really like the scratch corn we give the chickens as a treat) and come back. In that case we'll kill them, but have only done that twice in the 20 years we've been here. But this is still the wild west out here in some ways, so you always have to be aware of where you're putting your feet when out hiking in these hills - especially around open rock formations in the summer and into the fall. And once you hear that distinctive rattle, you'll never forget it.


Carolyn said...

Wow! I live in Scottsdale, AZ and see single rattlers alot, but never a den! I would be scared for days imagining that scene. Gopher snakes are cool though. I had a red racer in the house the other day. He was under a little table when I picked it up to vacuum. I picked him up and put him back outdoors where he belongs. Lots of surprises living in the desert.

Felicia McB said...

that is why I'm terrified to move to the country, even though I think I would really like it, but I'm not that big on wild animals and I'd have a coronary if I came across a snake, much less a rattler.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That is amazing. When we lived in south Texas we would frequently have cottonmouths and copperheads come into the yard and occasionally our swimming pool. They would be promptly killed with a shovel - no place to relocate them in our neighborhood. I think that if I came across this many snakes, I would run the other ways and fast!


Chiot's Run said...

WOW, that's amazing!

I'm not scared of snakes, I guess that's from growing up with them as pets (we even had a big boa that was 12 ft long and could have eaten me as a kid).

I'm not sure I'd want a den of these in my back yard, but I do welcome other snakes.