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Howdy All;

Well, my uncle had a visitor today that supprised him, and almost scared-the-"S"ssss out of my aunt. They now live on my Grandparants ranch down in Skull Valley. Seams kind of strange to me as I have been out tromping around most every weekend around Cleator, Bumble Bee, Rich Hill, the Lynx Creek area and who knows where else for the past 7-months now and have yet to come across anything that remotely resembles a Rattle Snake, and one visits my uncle's place out of the blue. Based on the pictures that he emailed me, I would say that the snake hasn't been out of the den for very long, as he's pretty greenish-looking. I had one slither across my path in a gulch down in Greaterville (only much bigger) that had that greenish-yellowish coloration as well. Maybe with all this monsoonal rain that we are now getting and the dampness in the air we might be seeing these little dudes a little more frequently out in the field,.......makes ya want to move just a little "slower" through the thick brush...doesn't it ? ? How about anybody else ?? Anyone had a shock of addrenolin lately due to an encounter by one of these??.......Gary



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Hello Gary,

I'm sure when you were tromping around all those spots you mentioned the snakes were there just hiding! :huh: What scares me the most is when you're climbing those waterfalls and such and you have to place your hands in small pockets to climb up. If you would happen to grab one accidentially it would be all over! I'm sure he would give you one hell of a dose! :(

Make sure you're wearing those Snake Gaitors for protection.

Good Rattlesnake pictures.

Rob Allison

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It is a Mojave and despite all the rumor around about being able to tell one from a western diamondback by it's "coon" tail, there is only two certain way's to distinguish the two very similar snakes.

One is to count the scales connecting the eye caps (see picture). The Mohave will have two large scales separating the eyes where the diamondback will have many very small scales. Color has almost nothing to do with species identification. The other photo is also a Mohave. Mohave's can be most any color in between. The snake did not just come out of its winter den, but did recently shed. Prior to shedding they will look very tan in color as the skin starts to separate and their eyes will get glossy. They are more vulnerable during this time and will strike with little provocation. Guess being blind makes them nervous.

The other way to tell the difference is to get bit by one. Been there, done that. I had a mostly dry bite (they can control the venom injected) but still caused a lot of problems. The Mohave is the most dangerous north american snake in that its venom is a combination of hemo and neuro toxins which makes it very hard to overcome naturally.

For a few years I made a living hunting rattlers and some say its myth but in my experiances the Mohave was seriously quick to anger and strike over most any western diamondback. Next in line was the sidewinder.

The Tigers found near Gila Bend acted like puppy dogs compared to the Mohave's found in the same wash.

I do beleive an antivenom is now being made for them in AZ. Not sure how much it helps but its better than what they used to do. Use to just keep you as comfy and calm as possible and let it run its course along with opening and digging out bad tissue as it rots.

Also take special note that right now is the start of the birthing season, and they all give virtualy a live birth. Technicaly its an egg that bursts pretty much at birth. The big concern is the little ones do not control their venom and inject a full load when they bite. They also do not have a rattle yet to warn you about being biten. A rattle won't appear until the first skin shed. Many times while hunting them during August one would dump out a bunch of kids while holding it in the capture rod. Sure will make you dance around.



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Lotsa Luck,

Thanks for a very inforamative post. I have an additional question, when do they and other speices begin the process of hibernation and how long do they hibernate.

I have a great respect for snakes, spiders, bears and big cats. I once saw footage of a cat in a battle with a very large rattler and the cat won, I couldn't believe how agile the cat was.


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Hibernation is very location dependant. Several years ago while hiking into an old fort near Crown King we found a nice fat western diamondback actually coiled and rattleing right on top of a drift of snow. It was a nice sunny day in January at 6200'. Most pit vipers in the west rarely ever go into a true hibernation. They will instead slow metabolisms way down and only come out during sunny times. They sometimes den, but its pretty rare in reality.

This is for the AZ desert area.

During the winter months look for them out in the hottest part of the day. Around late May they start to come out only mornings and afternoons but shelter mid day. Around mid July rarely will you see them out in the open during daylight hours unless a surprise. By surprise I mean turning over some downed wood or kicking at a grass stand where shaded. By mid August we never started hunting until 9:00pm but a cool shower could adjust that time. They seem to just love a minor rain just before dusk and often we would have a hundred snake night just after a light shower. Birthing around Phoenix hits its peak normally around the first weekend in August. Skins are also very good around the same time with fresh sheds. By the end of August the cycle starts to reverse to them being more active during daylight hours.

When hunting detecting around "natural bariers" such as steep bluffs, washes or sudden terrain changes be extra vigilant for snakes. To a snake, any sudden change of terrain equates to nervousness to cross and for the same reason FOOD. Just as a snake is reluctant to scurry across an open wash or up a steep bluff, so is mouse. Snakes therefore congregate in such places.

Unexplained to me but worth mentioning this time of year is the odd grouping that also happens during August. Never understood why but when hunting them in August we often would jump out to capture one we saw and find ourselves standing in a small group of them. This only happened in large washes but got the boys in a bunch never the less.

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This June I ran into my first GREEN RATTLER at 7400 feet above sea level in the Sierras.It wasnt a Mojave Green.....and I've seen many snakes while out in the country.Can anyone say why this rattler was green?Maybe some kind of mold from just exiting the ground?I visit this rattler every summer or two in the same gully(location)on a trail that leads up into the high countrey.......but not on purpose!Maybe its a mom with a nearby den.

I saw a new mom ATTACK a teenager(human)that was trying to smash her with large cobble one time while exploring a old hydralic dig.I was the one who almost stepped on her at first....then I backstepped to watch her litteraly go around me to get at the teenager.They smell fear like other species do and I never would have believed a rattler to actually attack someone in open ground....unless I saw it with my own eyes!After the snake was killed the teen thanked me "for saving his life"after I smashed her with a small boulder....I was a kid then as well and didnt really see it as any "Big Deal"....but when he left I found 3" purple worms with black diamonds on thier backs.She was just doing her job as a mother and had just delivered.He returned with a shotgun to kill off the other adults that were buzzing left&right in a nearby pit......after feeling guilty for waisting mom(I was raised in Catholic school.....hence....GUILT!lol)I told him to just let them be.(but IF that pit were close to our camp area it would have been a different story).

They can be VERY aggressive if need be!


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THE mojaves seem to be big snakes (3 1/2" to 5+" in diameter, maybe up 5 feet long. You see them all over the southwest, though more on the arizona areas of prospector's delight.

The problem is that when the temp is high, they shuffle around at night. If you have to get up in the night for #2, it pays to have a really decent light. Personally, I found that the Black Diamond headlamp LED does a really good job at allowing a mojave to be seen.

Another trick is to set up a perimeter of lights around camp, as these snakes will go around the light perimeter rather than through it. It's interesting to see these snakes pass by, while out sleeping on a cot, and both can observe each other without much danger.

I find that the old style white gasoline lamps work the best as far as light intensity, perhaps the noisy hiss, and staying power, to alert the snakes to go around the camp perimeter. I prefer the live and let live philosophy towards a snake or any other critter

Perhaps Lotsaluck knows more about these snake's behavior.

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Nice albino... Or maybe just melonistic. I had a friend in Denver that had a captive born albino DB. It was one of the most impressive creatures I have ever encountered. Pink diamonds and bands on the coon tail.

You spoke above about the banded tail on Crotalus rattlesnakes. I was exchanging email with a herp researcher in Flagstaff a while back about I.D. on a snake I found up by Wickenberg. It had no neck markings for about 8" from the head (show me the neck on a snake :lol: ) It was a Mohave as I suspected, probably a sub-group. Anyway, This person said that tail ID is possible in that the banding on a diamondback is generally symmetrical where the bands are the same size whereas the Mohave's banding will be off size (see original pics). Mind you this is not hard and fast science but a good rule of thumb that most field techs use.

Whatsforsupper: Snakes don't have ears but are keen to vibration and can smell with their tongue, probably better than a bloodhound and that's pretty darned good. Your camp probably feels bad and smells bad. I would say the only reason to to come into your camp would be because he's warmed up, active and on the hunt.

Carefull out there


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From all I have researched the tail banding can be used to assist in indentification but the only hard and true way is the scales betwix the eyes. I used that method since and it never failed. Once you start looking for it the twin scales jump right out t you. They are large and easy to see. Banding between a blacktailed and a mohave can be very similar. The blacktail being a sub of the western diamondback, and really pretty docile, is nothing to worry about in comparison.

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We were Chukar hunting north of Winnemucca a few years back when my son found a green rattler. It was sagebrush green and the spots on it's back were chocolate brown. Those were the only two colors. I've run across many rattlers but none other with that coloring.

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