Snake in the Grass

I bet you thought the title was a reference to a metaphor, didn’t you? Well  . . .

I encountered my first Mojave green rattler while I was out walking in the desert today. I didn’t even notice it — I was walking down the middle of a sandy path, minding my own business, when a hiss and a rattle startled me.  I looked around and there was this beauty lying in the grass beneath a creosote bush. I moved ten feet away, then stopped and took a couple of photos. Apparently it didn’t like having its picture taken, because as I was aiming for the third, it raised it’s head and rattled at me again. I took the hint and left. Every time I think about this encounter, I smile. I don’t know why it makes me feel good, perhaps because I finally encountered the real desert. I also got to find out what I always suspected: I am not afraid of snakes, just healthily wary. 

The Mojave green rattlesnake will not attack, but if disturbed or cornered, they will defend themselves. Apparently, bites occur if people accidentally step on a snake or purposely harass it, so if people are careful, they can keep from being bit. Generally, if bit, a person has time to walk out of the desert, since the effects don’t always take place immediately, and only 5% of the bites are fatal.  Supposedly, the only cure for the bite is antivenin at a cost of $18,000 per treatment. Now that’s scary! (But it can’t be right, can it? Seems excessive.)

10 Responses to “Snake in the Grass”

  1. gardengidget Says:

    Our Jack Russel was bit by a Hopi Rattlesnake last summer. She ended up having to have an anti-venom shot administered. Since she only weighs around 20 pounds, she required just one shot, costing around $300. The number of anti-venom shots (doses) are determined by weight. This is how the cost can add up and end up costing so much! The cost can also be driven by availability, from what I hear.

  2. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    The only species of rattlesnake found in BC is the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake and it isn’t usually aggressive either. All snakes including rattlesnakes are protected under our province’s Wildlife Act, so it’s illegal to kill or harm them, or remove them from the wild (not that I’d be tempted to!). I don’t mind snakes, although I dislike coming upon them unexpectedly in the garden, even though those ones are harmless.

    That’s a great photo!

  3. joylene Says:

    I’ve never seen a rattler, not enough when visiting Mexico. I agree, if you stay out of their way, life should remain safe. I feel the same way about bears. I’ve seen hundreds. Close up. Yes, they still set my heart to beating, but nothing that can’t be fixed with some caffeine. Generally a bear bite is fatal.

  4. Phoenix Rattlesnake Says:

    Cool snake, and great attitude about it. Where was this taken?

    In the desert flats West of Phoenix, the mojave is the most common rattlesnake I encounter this month. It’s not difficult to find 10 or 20 of them any humid evening in August. After seeing many hundreds of rattlesnakes, I have to say that they are on the aggressive side, and are much more apt to strike repeatedly than some of the others in their environment.

    Do you see them often?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’ve been walking out in the desert about two hours every day this summer, and this was the only rattlesnake I saw, though I did see a gray snake once — perhaps a garter snake?

      • Bryan Hughes Says:

        It could have been one of several things. Gartersnakes are quite common, but moreso around water. I would actually suspect something else, like a ringneck snake or another diurnal colubrid like a racer.

  5. knightofswords Says:

    Now that is one cool picture!


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