Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Season Total

Recently a neighbour asked "How many rattlesnakes have you seen?" I replied none. She responded that she had seen only one or two this season and other neighbours had seen none or fewer than usual.

Summer before last I saw twelve or thirteen near the house but only three last summer. I attributed the reduction to the cats who control the mouse population which means no food supply to attract snakes. I've wondered if the cats serve as a deterrent to snakes. Maybe snakes avoid the yard due to the cat scent. This is probably a guess without basis.

I saw one non-poisonous snake in the yard this summer. I came around the end of the house and startled a gopher snake that immediately began moving backward away from me and turned as quickly as possible to seek safety under the deck.

I thought I'd finish the season without a rattlesnake sighting but....

Sunday evening, September 30, Julie and I got home about six o'clock. I stopped the car, hopped out and opened the back door to get a package when I heard a rattle. About three feet from me was the largest Hopi rattlesnake I've ever seen -- largest in length and girth. I moved away from him (her?) and he kept moving toward the car. He never coiled and stopped rattling almost instantly. I walked around the car to get a better looked and he rattled again for a couple seconds but kept moving. I took things out of the car and carried them to the house to get the camera. When I came back I found him in deep grass moving south as if he had a specific destination in mind.

I've noticed a definite pattern. Larger (i.e. older) snakes tend to be more laid back and less excitable. I've also noticed a little neurological reaction in myself. Over the years I've observed I react before I become conscious of a snake. It's like an autonomic reaction. First, they rattle; second, I start moving away;' third I become conscious of the rattle and my movement. I find this fascinating.

I'm curious why I and other neighbours saw so few this year. Did something happen to the population? It was an excellent monsoon season. Perhaps the snakes travel more in dry seasons and are more likely to be seen. Whatever the reason, I'm glad I saw one -- especially one so large.


Blogger Regenia said...

Hey Paul, interesting that you too have seen so few snakes the last couple of seasons....we are experiencing the same thing in NC coastal region. In the last two summers I have only seen 2 large Black Racers, no Copperheads at all.
In fact the local newspaper did an article about "Where are all the snakes?" No real explanations were offered.
I know one thing...the fewer I see, the better...especially Rattlers!!!

10/04/2012 07:46:00 AM  

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