Rattlesnake ID

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Jim_b
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Rattlesnake ID

Post by Jim_b » Sun Aug 16, 2009 11:38 am

I received this photo from Ron Mears, a DesertUSA reader. Looks like a Diamondback. It was taken in the Hueco Mountains, near El Paso, Texas. Camera is a Canon 5D

Jim

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Re: Rattlesnake ID

Post by reptilist » Sun Aug 16, 2009 11:44 am

That's a Northern Black Tailed Rattlesnake...Crotalus molossus.
They look silverish/gray in the deserts, golden in the mountains or sometimes greenish like in my neck of the woods. This specimen is quite faded towards the back end, with a somewhat nontypical pattern across the front half.

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Re: Rattlesnake ID

Post by ElPaso2008 » Sun Aug 16, 2009 6:06 pm

Hi, I'm Ron. I've been reading articles on the site for a long time but never noticed the message board link.

Thanks for the ID. Nice to know what I encountered.

That was actually the third encounter I've had with that same snake. It was not nearly so hostile as it was on our first meeting, when it bowed up 8-10" off the ground coiled in an almost perfect heart shape. It was alarmed when I got the shot. Even with the 200mm lens I had to get a little closer than I wanted, but it was worth it.

Thanks again.

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Re: Rattlesnake ID

Post by reptilist » Sun Aug 16, 2009 6:28 pm

Nice shot! Congratulations!
They are probably my favorite species of rattlesnake...
They are known to be relatively unafraid of large mammals and will often stand their ground. The only rattlesnake that I have had advance upon my position was a molossus...They certainly insist on a little respect!
Thanks for coming by!

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Re: Rattlesnake ID

Post by Desert Cruiser » Sun Aug 16, 2009 6:40 pm

Ron: nice photo, I've never seen one with markings like that, very pretty snake! Now that you know we're here, don't be a stranger. Welcome aboard!

Don....

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Re: Rattlesnake ID

Post by Desert Cruiser » Sun Aug 16, 2009 6:52 pm

Oh by the way Ron if you need help with posting photos in the message board here here's a link for you

http://www.desertusa.com/mb3/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1134

It's a place to practice in the message board and also some links showing how to get started.

Don...

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Re: Rattlesnake ID

Post by ElPaso2008 » Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:36 pm

reptilist wrote:Nice shot! Congratulations!
They are probably my favorite species of rattlesnake...
They are known to be relatively unafraid of large mammals and will often stand their ground. The only rattlesnake that I have had advance upon my position was a molossus...They certainly insist on a little respect!
Thanks for coming by!
Yes, this one stood his/her ground. (Is there any way to tell gender from a distance? I'll just call him "he".)

The first time the sun had already set behind the mountain, and he was laying on some small rocks on the side of the trail. As the jeep approached him, he reared up and rattled. I stopped the jeep about fifteen feet from him and got out, having made sure the trail was clear of any other snakes before stopping. I found it hard to believe he did not slither into the brush. What had he planned to do, sink his fangs into a 33" tire? Now you tell me one actually advanced on your position, which is a little unsettling, since one might not be aware of the advance.

When I walked around in front of the hood he rattled even harder. I moved from side to side, noticing how carefully he tracked me. When I took just one step towards him, he coiled his body into the heart shape I described in the previous post.

I don't want to go overhoard anthropomorphizing the snake, but it seemed to me he knew he was deadly, as though he were giving me a chance to live and seeing if I would take it and leave. After about three minutes he sunk down from the heart shaped coil and just kept his eyes on me. I just leaned up against the bumper, and we stared at each other for another few minutes. It struck me as not surprising that lethal serpents show up in the art and mythologies of every human culture. You don't forget the experience of encountering a rattler, and this was my first time to be eye to eye with one. It was the last week of April, right after they started appearing out here. Then he rattled at me again when I was driving by 2-3 weeks ago, once again without my camera. I've been carrying it ever since.

The trail leads to a canyon where there are 9 acres for sale, so it's been a 3-4 times a week drive for me. The canyon rises about 1000 feet from the ground on my side (if I buy it). It would take some challenging backhoe work to homesite the side of the mountain, but I'm thinking it would be a fascinating experience to live in such a pristine desert environment. We know for sure there is one cougar living nearby. He's been spotted a couple of times by a man who lives just up the road.
.
Last edited by ElPaso2008 on Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Rattlesnake ID

Post by ElPaso2008 » Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:40 pm

Desert Cruiser wrote:Ron: nice photo, I've never seen one with markings like that, very pretty snake! Now that you know we're here, don't be a stranger. Welcome aboard!

Don....
Thank you, Don. It's a pleasure to find a group specifically focussed on the wonders of the desert, so I'm really happy to have found the message board.

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Re: Rattlesnake ID

Post by Desert Cruiser » Sun Aug 16, 2009 9:59 pm

Great and like I said if you need any help don't hesitate to ask, don't be a stranger! Boy it's been 6 years since we've seen mountain lions, I really miss them, they are beautiful animals and very curious too. Just keep any eye on your pets if you have any. I wouldn't want to hear a lion got killed. It sounds like a great place to build a homestead. Let us know how you make out. Pictures would be good too!

Don....

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Re: Rattlesnake ID

Post by reptilist » Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:09 am

Snakes can be difficult to tell male from female....But with experience, one can give an educated guess, because the tails of the male are longer and thicker than the females. I would guess yours to be a male.
Here's a link to my website if you are interested in seeing more pics....
http://www.reptilist.com

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