SRP RAMBLINGS – Rattlesnake Love?

SANTA ROSA PLATEAU ECOLOGICAL RESERVE, Riverside County, CA – APRIL 22, 2011

While on a wildflower photography hike this day, I approached the Tenaja area of the Vista Grande Trail. A family of four were near the bridge crossing at Cole Creek. I overheard the father ask his daughter, “What was the shape of it’s head?” She replied, “Diamond-shaped!”

My interest immediately peaked and I headed in the direction of the voices. I arrived as the two daughters and their mother were moving away from the area and their father was trying to locate the object of concern in a large clump of deer grass adjacent to the Cole Creek bridge crossing.

As I arrived the father had located a large rattlesnake, and then exclaimed, “It looks like there are two snakes in there!” The rest of the family continued to retreat up the bluff on the Visitor Center side of Cole Creek and observed the proceedings from their new location. The snakes were well hidden in the dense grass. The larger of the two snakes would occasionally move to reposition itself finally showing off its 13 button “rattler.”

Two SRP rattlesnakes - head to head.

The family decided to head back towards the visitor center. I thanked them for locating the snakes and continued to observe and photograph the area hoping that they might better show themselves – unfortunately they did not.

The snakes were Red Diamond Rattlesnakes. The larger snake was over 4 feet long and had a 13 button rattle. The second snake was smaller and remained motionless other than occasionally flipping a 7-8 button “rattler.” The second snake was lighter colored than the larger dark-colored snake. The larger snake also displayed a black-and-white “raccoon-banding” on its tail just before the rattle.

The large snake finally departed the area heading north from the observation site, while the smaller snake, as far as I can tell, remained in the original location but deeper into the deer grass.

The large Red Diamond Rattlesnake had a rattle of 13 buttons.

The snakes behavior was unusual with regards to their close proximity to human traffic (5-6 feet). There was no apparent anxiety prompting the snakes to warn of their presence. The larger snake appeared to be preoccupied with trying to evoke a response from the smaller snake. The smaller snake on the other hand didn’t appear to show much interest.

The day before this observation a large-bodied snake track was found on the bluff above the river bed. The distance between the track and this observation was approximately 4-5 yards.

JL – 04.22.2011

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”  – Mark Twain

2 Responses to “SRP RAMBLINGS – Rattlesnake Love?”

  1. Joan DeFazio says:

    I hope the photos were taken with a telephoto lens or something similar and that you were not as close as appears from the photos!

  2. jlockyer says:

    I was close and wasn’t using my telephoto lens, but the snakes appeared to be totally distracted with the close presence of people as they persued the activity they were engaged in. I went back the following day and there was no sign of either snake.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.