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Monday, June 20, 2016

An Interesting Surprise for Father's Day

My Wonderful Husband and I had just finished eating our breakfast yesterday morning, which was Father's Day here in the USA. I had my usual bowl of cereal and he had eggs and toast. As I was washing the dishes, a strange site greeted me. I saw THIS as I looked out through the kitchen window blinds.


What is it?
Is that a snake in the middle of our street? Or something else? I kept looking as I finished the dishes. A car came around the corner and suddenly stopped. The object was right in front of the car and never moved. I thought they were going to get out but they just looked at my neighbors cacti in bloom and then drove off. I was surprised they did not run over it, whatever "it" was.


Curiosity got the best of me, I had to go look and, of course, I brought my camera and a broomstick with me. It WAS a snake and it was dead. Good thing, because it was a western diamondback rattlesnake! I snapped a quick photo and then decided to move it out of the street, before we both got run over. I used the broomstick, I may be a bit crazy, but I'm not insane. I'm not going to touch a rattlesnake, not even a dead one. 

I've always been sort of a tomboy and am quite curious about all sorts of critters. Once I got it out of the street, I could take a closer look. I have no idea how it died. It was not squashed, so it hadn't been run over. Maybe a roadrunner got it (yes, roadrunners will kill snakes.)   

Roadrunner looking for food
So, how did I know what kind of snake it was? I looked at the tail. See those black and white rings just above the rattles? Those are the markings of a western diamondback. They are quite common in Arizona, although this is the first one I've seen in at least 10 years. 



I measured it and it was just over 2 feet long. They can be as long as 7 feet. After I took photos, I made sure it was out of the way, so any curious children wouldn't find it and came back inside to work on this story.



I went back out this morning to see if it was still there, and there was nothing left, except some scales and the rattles. I don't know what happened to the rest of it. Perhaps an animal hauled it off over night, or maybe an early morning walker took it for its skin, all I know is it's gone. 


The rattles are made of keratin, they same stuff our fingernails are made of. The snakes gain a new rattle each time they shed their skin. Rattlers can shake their rattles 50 times per second and continue it for several hours! And we thought Parkinson's tremors were bad? 

I hope it's at least 10 more years before I see another one, at least one that close to home. 

2 comments:

  1. Nice photojournalism Bev.
    Reminding myself,,,when hiking and come to a log in the trail, step on the log, not over it.

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