Bighorn sheep herd 05/26/14

Bighorn sheep herd 05/26/14
There were about a dozen bighorn sheep this date 052614 up on Highway 74, above Palm Desert, CA, and right above Deep Canyon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tale of a rattlesnake








You know, I've driven up the mountain road (Highway 74...the "killer highway") now for 3 years, ever since I moved my horses up the mountain for boarding. I drive that road every weekend (if possible) and sometimes once during the week. In those 3 years, I've seen a couple run-over snakes, a fox that was hit by a car, and various rabbits that didn't make it. But, today, I saw a LIVE rattlesnake! He/she/it was coiled near the middle of the road and it was alive when I slowed down and passed it, looking for a turnout. I didn't want a car to come by and run over it. The nearest turnout was about 100 feet away and by the time I parked, a couple of cars were coming up the mountain. I ran as quickly as I could toward the snake, waving them off, but one of them DELIBERATELY swerved and ran over it. I heard a sickening crunch and saw that yes, it had been hit. A second car behind it also ran over it, in spite of my pointing to it and waving. I screamed and cursed the first driver, who turned and gave me "the birdie". By the time I got to the snake, I knew it was mortally wounded. It was slowly moving its head and TRYING to move the back of its body, but couldn't. The cars had hit it mid-section. The head was intact, but I knew it was dying. I looked around for the LONGEST stick I could find and slowly got it off the road, while cars continued to zoom by me. NOBODY stopped to assist me. Now, I am DEATHLY afraid of snakes, but I wasn't the least bit afraid of this one (knowing that it was dying)...I have had 3 snakes jump out of the tack room at me (all non-poisonous), yet every time, I scream like a little girl and jump up and down in terror! I don't know why I had no fear and a friend said I was absolutely NUTS for moving it, but, like I said, this was the first live one I'd seen in three years of driving that road and I wasn't about to let him or her continue to get run over by cars. I found a nice, shady place at the side of the road, and left the snake there, figuring that I'd check on it on my way back down the mountain a few hours later. When I came back down the mountain, and stopped at the turnout, it was dead and very stiff and not moving. Now it is raven meat...But, you know, it also taught me something. This must have been a young snake (see photos) because it had NO RATTLES. Or, as someone pointed out, there are rattlesnakes nowadays that don't have rattles. YIKES! That means, they don't warn you of their presence! Had this one been in the brush, and had I been walking by, I wouldn't have heard a rattle. I studied its beautiful diamond shapes all over its body and realized that it would blend into its surroundings and I also wouldn't see it! Honestly, I wish the drivers who deliberately ran over the snake would have stopped to think about taking the life of a living creature, but they didn't. And, that makes me sad.

5 comments:

  1. You must board your horse near us - we live up off the killer highway too. We see quite a few rattlesnakes and I don't think I'll ever get used to it. I'm scared of snakes as well although I've learned to not freak out at the gopher snakes.

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  2. The rattler's diamond pattern is a work of art. You did the right thing, and still the circle of life and death goes on. Sure looks like rattles at the end to me. You took a big step towards facing fear.

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  3. Poor you!
    When I was a little girl in Georgia, I remember hearing folks talk about how you can get venom from a rattlesnake in an open sore if you run over it and have to change a tire! Wonder if that is true!

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  4. That poor snake was probably trying to catch some early morning sun. Good for you for doing what you could for it.

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  5. Thank you for visiting my Dotty Pants blog and commenting on my White Oak rat snake. I avoid poisonous snakes but welcome one that will catch squirrels. He's still around.

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