The closest stop sign is over a mile away and the first traffic light is 5+ miles down the road. A visit to the grocery store is almost 30 miles round trip. It's quiet here; just the sound of toads and coyotes at night. It seems very still, but when you look close there's always something happening. Read on about a few things we've noticed over the past few years.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Unfortunately I came across this snake while hiking last week.  Except for a long black flickering toungue, it never moved.  I spotted it at 15'.   Check out the black and white rings at the tail just before the rattle. I took a few photos and then retreated.  The next day I very carefully retraced my steps and found a dead rattlesnake 30' from the first encounter.  I didn't have the courage to inspect it.  I'm not convinced it was the same one although it did have a diamond pattern.  Ugh....this is really bothering me. I know sooner or later I'm going to see another one.   

Here are some facts about the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake:
Life expectancy is more than 20 years but is typically shorter because of hunting and human expansion. Solitary outside of mating season, they are one of the more aggressive rattlesnake species because they rarely back away from confrontation. When threatened they usually coil and rattle to warn aggressors.
In the winter they hibernate sometimes with other species of snakes.  Usually inactive between October and March, although occasionally they may be seen sunning themselves on warm winter days.  These snakes can go for up to two years without food in the wild. A 5½ month starvation study showed that the snakes reduced energy expenditures by an average of 80% over the length of the study. The most interesting finding was that the snakes grew during the study, indicating that while the snake's mass was shrinking, it was putting its resources into skeletal muscles and bone.

This snake is key participant in the food chain and it is an important predator of many small rodents, rabbits, and birds. In turn it is preyed upon by a variety of larger mammals and birds, such as coyotes, foxes, and hawks. It is primarily a nocturnal animal, hunting for its prey on warm summer nights.

Gestation period lasts six or seven months and broods average about a dozen young. The young only stay with the mother for a few hours before they set off on their own to hunt and find recluse, thus the mortality rate is very high. Mating occurs in the spring and the females give birth to as many as 25 young, which may be as long as 12 inches in length. The young are fully capable of delivering a venomous bite from the moment they are born.

No comments:

Post a Comment