Wednesday, June 16, 2010

(Don't) Bite Me

Wednesday June 16 2010

I did something rather silly.

I was driving home yesterday up Bates Creek Road, a bit fast on the dirt road... came over a hill and - WHOA! swerved and skidded to avoid a snake stretched out long ways across my path. Slammed on the brakes and skidded to a stop, hoping I hadn't clipped its tail.

I hadn't - he was still laying there, same position, stretched out in the sun.

Well, I certainly didn't want the snake getting hit by some other vehicle, so I walked up to it to try to shoo it off the road. It didn't quite look like a rattlesnake... well, except for the pattern in the middle part of his quite long (about 3 feet) body.

He didn't move when I walked up close and waved and said "Shoo!" to him, so... I squatted behind him, reached out... and touched its tail.

Quick as a flash, that snake whipped around into a coil, head up, tongue out, tail... rattling?

Quick as a flash, I was three feet back, my heart pounding a bit. I still didn't quite think it was a rattlesnake, but... it was coiled like a rattlesnake, its tail was vibrating like a rattlesnake and I heard... rattles? I didn't see rattles... and I started thinking I'd read somewhere that a rattlesnake might not have rattles for some reason or other (which is probably wrong). I stayed out of range of the snake's leap (I think) and tried to get a better look at it. It sure sounded like rattling, and its tail was still shaking, but I think it was really hissing.

I'm pretty sure it wasn't a rattlesnake... but maybe I shouldn't have touched it. A snake is pretty dang fast.

However, at least I got him off the road, so he didn't get run over (at least that day). Good snake or bad snake, he'd make a good meal for the hawks and the golden eagles (who still hang around, though their nest failed) along the crik.

(And reading about it later, it was a bull snake; it imitates a rattlesnake by taking the coiled posture of a rattlesnake, vibrating its tail - though instead of elevating its tail it usually keeps the tail in contact with the ground to hit brush or leaves for sound effects - flattening its head to look more like a rattler, and hissing - which sounds like a rattle.)


  1. That was pretty brave of you. I'd have just gone around him and not even gotten out of the car. Did I mention I'm petrified of snakes, yes, even garden snakes. It's not a good way to be, but I can't do anything about it.

  2. I think I would have used a stick or something as I'd not be likely to touch a wild snake. We don't have poisonous snakes around here, but all snakes can bite...Thought when I saw your snake's head it didn't look like a rattler, but I couldn't remember which species of snake did that "fake rattle." Now it all makes sense....thank goodness. Had it been a rattler, I am not sure it would have missed...*shiver*

  3. Great that you tried to save it, but you might want to invest in a nice long stick for the next snake moving...

    I like snakes, but they are surprisingly high strung.

    For reptiles. :)

  4. Its definately a bull snake. They mimic the rattle snakes but don't have the rattles. The make the rattling sound some other way. You are much braver than me I am terrified of snakes

  5. I have seen garter snakes do that before too. Quite unnerving, I say.

  6. Big stick! But there is a sure way to tell... triangle head only owned by pit vipers ( rattlers for instance) and u shaped heads are not vipers. All rattlers have that triagular head. Still, big stick!

  7. Good for you for helping it out!!

  8. I'm in the big stick group! You're braver than I am!

  9. What possible difference can it make whether it was an official Rattler or not when you keel over from a massive coronary? At least that's what I would have done. *Laugh* I'm normally an animal lover, but I think I might have been more inclined to squish him with the car and nevermind the stick - because ICK :oP

  10. Yay for saving the bull snake! We love bullsnakes here. They keep the rattle snakes away and will eat them. So the more bull snakes we have, the happier I am.

    But yeh, they are quite defensive and can be agressive if provoked.
    Last summer we had one take up temporary residence on our front porch.
    Nothing we did made it want to leave (stomping our feet nearby, tapping it's tail with a stick, pouring water on it, running around kidlets. lol!) instead it coiled up and hissed, 'faux rattled' it's tail, and growled!
    I video taped it and put it on my blog, too. I think it's under snake in my labels.

    What a saucy snake he was, though. lol!

    Good job saving your fella. He would have been road kill before long.


  11. Yep, I'm in the big stick group too! We had a bull snake in the house last week...that was a surprise!

  12. A bull snake, how cool! I would've shooed it across the road too.

  13. Good for you, Merri, for chasing him off the road so he wouldn't get hit. Bullsnakes are one of the best mousers on the planet. And, as you found out, are *great* rattlesnake imitators. Which, unfortunately, gets them killed quite often by people who think they *are* rattlesnakes. :(