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.)