Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rattlesnake Sunday

Pigmy rattlesnake in the grip of the grabber
For reasons I can't explain, the rattlesnakes around the Bull Creek house seem to show up on a Sunday.  I was at my garage workbench last Sunday and saw an 18 inch pigmy rattlesnake laying quite still.  When I poked it with a stick, it attempted to escape, I trapped it with a stool and caught it with my snake grabber.  I took comfort in the fact that it wasn't a small timber rattlesnake as I keep telling myself they aren't in the garage.

Resting in the long pillow case
I transferred it into a long pillowcase we keep with the grabber and after a portrait session, took it up the creek a half mile to release it along a bluff. I took it out with the grabber and it expressed its gratitude by displaying its wide open jaw, an impressive two inches, and sinking its fangs into the rubber disks of the grabber. Note to self- get a longer grabber.

Biting the grabber
The western pygmy rattlesnake, Sistrurus miliarius streckeri, is the smallest Missouri rattlesnake, averaging 15-20 inches.  Its tiny rattle can only be seen and heard by being closer than you want to be.  The buzz is said to be like a grasshopper.  They have a red-orange stripe down the back and incomplete black bands across the back.  On first glance they resemble a small timber rattlesnake, but the timber has black bands that extend along its sides.

Pigmy Rattlesnake- MDC
Timber Rattlesnake-

Pigmy rattlesnakes live on lizards, snakes, frogs and mice, the latter being abundant in our garage which probably was a major draw to this specimen.  Young rattlesnakes have a colorful tail that they will wave as bait to lure toads and frogs into striking distance, a technique called "caudal luring."  Adults tend to sit and wait for prey to pass by.

They live under rocks on cedar glades and are said to be "so secretive that few people encounter italthough we have at least one come down from our overgrown cedar glade almost yearly.  They are found in southern Missouri and on through the south central US.  Another name for them is "ground rattler" - in opposition to what, an aerial rattler?  That is one I don't want to see.

 Herps of Arkansas has a lot more information on them.

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