Where’s your rattle, rattler?

You have no rattle. Where did it go? You look like a rattlesnake. You have a large, triangular head for your skinny body and a nice diamond pattern all brown and gold.  Can I zoom in with my camera and see your eyes? Thank you. No worries little pal, I won’t get too close. Oh my you can coil up quite assertively. Yes you are a rattlesnake, what with those vertical pupils. Yet your tail does not look right. It is all black and clearly missing something very important. Oh there you go trying to shake it but no sound does it make, cause this little rattler lost its rattle.

snake eys

So at long last we saw our first rattlesnake of the trip. We’ve both been on the lookout since Mexico way back in January, expecting to find one behind every log and sunning on every rock. It has been a long wait. We are used to stumbling upon copperheads in our old stomping ground, the Red River Gorge.  They lead a leisurely life at all the climbing areas. So what with the west having the reputation of lots of rattlers and all the warnings written into guidebooks or posted at visitor centers, we expected to see them at every stop. Finally it happened in less than dramatic fashion. Here is how it went down. Where: the climbing area, Owens River Gorge near Bishop, CA on the east side of the Sierras. Paved road for utility access but otherwise closed to traffic, we are walking on pavement, scoping climbing routes, when I see something crawling across the road in my direction.

I move along and say to Steve, “Uh dude, is that uuhhhh?

snake
Steve ahead of me turns back and says, “Huh, what? Ohhh that is aaa…..rattlesnake.”

I’m good with the no drama snake encounter, much better than me hearing something rustle in the bushes while trail running causing a severe fight or flight reaction that sends me barreling into dear husband- that happened once in the Red.

Actually seeing one, a relatively small one at that, helped to dymestify them a bit but now of course they are on my mind more than ever and after dark everything looks like a snake. Steve had better keep a wide buffer.

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4 thoughts on “Where’s your rattle, rattler?

  1. Hmmm…my guess upon not seeing a rattle would have been a Bull Snake, but I guess from the picture it does look like it is keeping its tail a bit off the ground, and the pupils definately are not round like a Bull Snake would have…

  2. We think it was a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake that had somehow lost its rattle. For all the stomping around in the woods, running trails, going to the Mexican desert, and tooling around the southwest it took me 33 years to see a rattlesnake in the wild. Anticlimatic to say the least.

    • It’s a baby Panamint Rattlesnake (C. stephensi)
      The reason it has no rattlesnake is because it’s a baby. That will change in a year.

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