Rattler Alert
by Walt Wolff

9 May 2002, 11:30am.  I almost stepped on the first rattlesnake of the year on our property.
 
It was a Western Rattlesnake (the most common one on SFTR)...small (32 inches)...lying stretched out in the sun and very docile: no great problem except for small animals, like our little dog Jamie, who was at my heels.  After getting both dogs in the house, I took these photos then dispatched the poor little guy with a hoe.  My preferred tool for this job is a long handled edger (presently in Los Alamos).  For those who would rather not get that close, birdshot in a .22 or .38 cal. pistol is very effective from 6 to 10 feet.
 
The safe way to dispose of the critter, because the venom remains potent for some time, is to remove the head, bury it and put a large rock on top to keep animals from digging it up. I normally save the rattles for my grandchildren.  Dispose of the rest where your pets cannot retrieve it or you may skin, clean and deep-fry the white meat (tastes just like chicken).

Please remember that snakes are beneficial so far as rodent and insect control, in particular Bullsnakes should be protected.  They may look like a rattler but do not have the triangular head nor, of course, rattles.  I reluctantly get rid of the rattlers for the safety of visitors and pets.
 
A word of caution (from Joyce)...be careful when moving rocks (she almost grabbed one) and of course when stepping over rocks or logs.
 
I am sure most all of you know this, but if a snake is coiled it can strike very quickly and for a surprising distance (a much more dangerous situation than if it were stretched out).
 
We have had 15 to 20 such critters in the past 8 years, but fewer all the time (two last year).
 
Hope this may prove interesting and helpful for some of you and not too boring for the rest.  This is not meant to alarm anyone but just a heads up.  Many residents have never seen a rattler on their property!
 
Walt