Saturday, April 9, 2011

Near Snake Experience

Dave and I decided to go for a hike, exploring some old dirt roads around the area south of Moab.  We were walking up a road that was too old to drive on--had not been maintained for years.  I'll add more pictures to another post about the old mine and houses we found, but today I wanted to share my rattle snake find!

We were on our way back down from the mine when I stepped over a rock and heard the buzzing.  Dave later said it sounded like a cicada, but my brain registered what it was before I knew what was happening.  I froze, trying to figure out where it was and if it was safe to step away from it.  Dave registered it after me, saying "Don't move!  There's a rattlesnake!"  I heard him talking but tuned him out in favor of the snake.  A few seconds later it crawled out from under a rock, moving away from me.  I relaxed when I saw it was too far away to be dangerous.

Dave wanted me to move immediately so it didn't block his path behind me, but then he changed his mind.  He said, "we need pictures!"  I'm thinking, "what??? I want to get away from it!"  So we both took a fast couple of pictures before we left the snake alone and continued our journey.

We have Midget-faded Rattlesnakes in this area.  They are only about three feet long at their largest and their faded color helps them blend in to their surroundings.  They are small, but don't let size fool you!  They are still rattlesnakes with rattlesnake venom!  I read that only one out of three strikes actually contain venom--they usually want to reserve their venom for their prey and they strike humans for defense, not because they're thinking of us as food.  Venom is actually a modified saliva, that starts digesting the snake's prey before they even swallow it.

I've seen rattlesnakes before, in and out of the park, but I've never had one rattle at me from right under my feet!  Quite an adrenalin rush, and took my mind off the fact that we had packed a backpack full of snacks and water...but had left it in the truck!  We were ready for it by the time we got back!


Gilbrides said...

Wow! I am so glad you were safe! That is quite amazing to be that close to a rattlesnake! I hope it's the last time as well :) Glad you had a fun time though!

Jen said...

Yikes!!! Glad you're safe!! One time when I was about 15, I was in a leadership program at a camp in Provo Canyon. Two other girls and I were walking back up to our unit in the dark, sans flashlights, when we heard a rattlesnake RIGHT next to us. Without flashlights, there was no hope of finding it. I think I jumped about four feet and we all started RUNNING. Luckily we were all fine, but SCARY!! I'm glad you are safe and sound and had a good hike!

P.S. Looking at your photo...I think I'm glad we didn't see ours! EEEEEEEEK!!!!!

Patricia K. Lichen said...

Whoa! That snake looks plenty big to me! I have heard that the sound of rattles is one of those that really focuses your attention...

Patricia Lichen,