This large lovely was nosing around a trap we keep where we park the cars, probably catching scent of a recently demised pack rat. (We'd leave the pack rats be if they'd leave car wiring off their menu, but that's another story.)
We happened to be outside one evening in mid July, when this snake sprung the trap and launched into his distinctive and unhappy rattle. The dog scampered away, tail tucked. She knows! The husband went for the snake grabber, and I stood gasping and sputtering as I tend to do when a rattlesnake rears its beautiful head.
Yes, beautiful. Even in my fright, I find snakes to be amazing and graceful creatures. I had a gopher snake (bull snake) as a friend for many years. This place has been a reptile haven for more than a hundred million years before any human showed up, and they have at least as much right to be here as we do. Plus, who knows how many pack rats this guy ate to get so big. He's undoubtedly helping us out.
I figured he was a gonner, though, his head snapped in the trap that way. We might have to put him out of his misery. But he kept rattling robustly, signaling loud and clear that he had no intention of dying.
I pinched his neck-ish region firmly but gently with my LONG snake grabber, while my husband used long-handled pliers to pry open the trap. Once the snake was free of the trap, I placed him into a 32-gallon trash can and bungee-corded it shut. We loaded it in the back of the truck, drove him out into the boonies and set him free.
The next evening, driving past that spot, we saw him lying (very alive!) stretched across the road. We stopped and shooed him off, explaining that this wasn't a safe place to sun. I'm sure he understood! At least we never saw him there again.
Correction: We saw him on that same stretch of road again on Saturday, 9/8/2019. At least it sure looked like the same guy. It makes you wonder just how big their territories really are. I hope he's finding his new home satisfactory.
This little guy startled me on a on an early September walk a couple of days ago. Pardon the low definition photo, but all I had was my cell phone and no desire to get closer. He looked very angry. I think it's the same species we'd accidentally trapped a month and a half before.
You may be wondering what species. Yeah, me too. Rattlesnakes and raptors give me fits when it comes to exact identification, but I'm going with Arizona Black Rattlesnake or Crotalus Cerberus based on photos and DNA analysis listed by The Firefly Forest. (I'm a sucker for DNA analysis.) Also, here's a video of the spring emergence of Arizona Black Rattlesnakes, some of which look a lot like mine.
After hours of searching and finally deciding, I found the Tucson Herpetological Society. They show a great variety for the Arizona Black Rattlesnake, only one of which looks like mine. Given all the confusion out there, I'm betting only the snakes know for sure.
This young fellow (notice the tiny bud of a rattle indicating he's probably been around only long enough to shed his skin once) crossed our path in September of 2017. I believe he is a Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus Lepidus), based on information from the Tucson Herpetological Society.
Then again, he looks a lot like the juvenile Arizona Black on THS's Arizona Black page.
I give! Just watch where you step. And if anybody has any better guesses, please do let me know.