If Anyone Has Questions or Concerns About Rattlesnakes

W Shaw

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Just thought I'd toss this in, in case anyone has questions or concerns about dealing with rattlesnakes. They're kind of my specialty. I rescued over 200 of them this summer, and work with a herpetologist on research and educational presentations. Well... he presents! I just carry snakes around. I don't do public speaking! I take a lot of calls from people worried about seeing a rattlesnake on a trail or in their yard, or companies wanting to know how to deal with rattlesnakes on their property. So this post is just to make myself available in case someone needs my expertise. I suspect no one will -- folks here are mostly reptile lovers!
 

W Shaw

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Where are you located ?
I'm in the Pacific NW, so I can only actually come get one in my area, of course, but I can tell you how to deal with one safely so that no one needs to come and get him :)
 

mike taylor

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I was hoping you were here around Texas . I love to catch snakes . I've been doing it as long as I can remember.
 

Rutibegga

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No snakes of the venomous variety in my neighborhood (Philly, PA), but perhaps you can accompany me on hikes when I visit the west--I'm not afraid of garter snakes, nor do I fear boas or pythons (who could actually pose a threat), but I'm scared to death of snakes in that 2' to 4' range, regardless of whether they're dangerous or not.

(I'm aware this is totally irrational, I've handled snakes of all sizes and just sucked it up, but still... The fear...)
 

W Shaw

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No snakes of the venomous variety in my neighborhood (Philly, PA), but perhaps you can accompany me on hikes when I visit the west--I'm not afraid of garter snakes, nor do I fear boas or pythons (who could actually pose a threat), but I'm scared to death of snakes in that 2' to 4' range, regardless of whether they're dangerous or not.

(I'm aware this is totally irrational, I've handled snakes of all sizes and just sucked it up, but still... The fear...)
I think what you haven't had, that would help with the fear thing, is to experience them in a relaxed setting with someone who's very comfortable with them. Not someone goading you to mess with the snakes or to get closer than you're comfortable with, but someone who can explain what the snake is doing, and why, and also how to tell when the snake is worried and when he isn't. There's a big "unknown" thing that contributes to the fear. If you have no idea what the snake might do, it can be really scary. My guaranteed "cure" is to take someone to a rattlesnake den. They're so fearful of the idea of it, but then when they get there, and they have all these totally relaxed rattlesnakes lazing around watching them, or coming up to get a look and then moving off it changes their whole perspective.
 

mike taylor

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I agree with you . You have to understand the animal behaviour .
 

W Shaw

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OMG! A neonate! What a cutie!! Why is there a "like" button and not a "LOVE LOVE LOVE!" button? Leaving her there was the best thing to do. She can scoot into tiny little spaces to get out of the way. You were lucky to see her. I remember the first time I saw a baby. Such a perfect little miniature. It was magical.
 

W Shaw

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@keepergale Here are a couple of shots from the summer rescue season. One of the more surreal moments. Are you kidding me? Do you two really need to be doing this on a state highway? And an adorable youngster riding to safety in the "Don't try this at home" position. That is NOT how you carry a rattlesnake! NEVER carry a rattlesnake that way! He was just very placid and curious and we had to walk him a fair distance so we let him ride however he wanted to and took turns carrying him so we could both take pics. He was very curious about the camera -- maybe his own reflection -- and when we'd go to take a photo, he'd reach way out to look in the lens and tongue flick ( a way for them to get a better scent). Made for some adorable photos, but I always have to add the caveat if I show them to anyone!



DSCF0570.jpg DSCF8968.jpg
 

W Shaw

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View attachment 156874

Cool little guy i photographed outside my cabin 6 years ago.
North-Central Arkansas.
Beautiful shot of a beautiful snake! We only have Northern Pacifics here, which makes them very easy to deal with -- they're notoriously mellow, but I'm a little envious of people who have lots of species. Thanks for sharing this!!
 

Tom

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I have a couple questions:
How are there so many left when so many people have been killing them on sight for two hundred years?

Have you seen the ones that don't rattle anymore? Evolution at work…



I also handle rattle snakes for work on a regular basis. We have mostly Southern Pacifics down here. In some geographical pockets they are HIGHLY aggressive. Aggressive to the point of intentionally chasing people and literally launching themselves in the air to strike. I had never seen anything like it, and would not have believed it had I not seen it myself.
 

keepergale

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I have read a couple articles showing how rapidly they can evolve. Behaviorally and physically. Some ground squirrels are developing resistance to rattlesnake venom and the snakes venom properties are changing to counter the squirrel adaptions.
 

mike taylor

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I have read articles about wild pigs eating them so they have stopped rattling to get away from being eaten . I think them not being killed off is due to their dens and giving live birth . They will use the same dens over and over .
 

Tom

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Some of them don't rattle anymore??? I'm never going hiking again. :-(
Think about it. If they make noise, the pilgrim, cowboy or farmer sees them and its either boom or chop! Off with the snakes head. Been this way since people began moving west two hundred years ago. Sad, but true. I've literally had to put myself in the path of many a moving vehicle to stop idiots from intentionally running them over.

So the ones that rattle early and often die. The ones that stay quiet and hidden live to eat and breed. This natural, or perhaps un-natural, selection over time has led to rattlesnake populations near heavily populated human areas to be quiet. Very interesting to me when you consider that the whole reason the rattle evolved was to warn off larger animals so the snakes wouldn't be stepped on or messed with. Some of them remain quiet even when I'm physically touching them and lifting them into my bucket with the tongs and hook on a warm day. I find it fascinating.
 

Loohan

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And yet, other snakes have picked up the habit. A black snake around here, if it feels threatened, sometimes vibrates the tip of its tail against dead leaves to make a similar sound and fake you out.
 

Tom

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And yet, other snakes have picked up the habit. A black snake around here, if it feels threatened, sometimes vibrates the tip of its tail against dead leaves to make a similar sound and fake you out.
Our gopher snakes will do that too. I LOVE the gopher snakes.
 

leigti

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Think about it. If they make noise, the pilgrim, cowboy or farmer sees them and its either boom or chop! Off with the snakes head. Been this way since people began moving west two hundred years ago. Sad, but true. I've literally had to put myself in the path of many a moving vehicle to stop idiots from intentionally running them over.

So the ones that rattle early and often die. The ones that stay quiet and hidden live to eat and breed. This natural, or perhaps un-natural, selection over time has led to rattlesnake populations near heavily populated human areas to be quiet. Very interesting to me when you consider that the whole reason the rattle evolved was to warn off larger animals so the snakes wouldn't be stepped on or messed with. Some of them remain quiet even when I'm physically touching them and lifting them into my bucket with the tongs and hook on a warm day. I find it fascinating.
I'm not saying it's not interesting. I find it very interesting the way that animals change and evolve with their environment. And I do think it is sad the way some people kill them just to kill them. I am one of those people that would avoid them if I could hear them. If I can't hear them it is not a good thing to me.
I saw a news story maybe 20 years ago that A rattlesnake in the lab at Colorado State University changed sexes. The professor said that sometimes they do that in extreme situations. Has anybody else heard of this? I have also heard that sometimes animals can have offspring without the male's help.
 

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