!!RATTLERS #3 !!

      I had planned for this be my final chapter on rattlesnakes.  I thought it would cover about all I have discovered and care to know about them.   However by the time I finished with the section on activity patterns, once again the chapter had become pondrus and unweildy (plus I was getting tired and eye strain setting in) I have so much more to finish up with that it will be necessary to do one more chapter.

     In the last chapter I covered the fangs and venom delivery system.  I also stated how they often have a spare set of fangs in their mouths.  During the Memorial Day weekend I watcehd (out of bordom) the second of the Arnold, Terminator movies.  After Arnie and the boy had sprung the Mom from the nut house, there is a scene where they are coming down the desert road to the place where she has a statch of weapons.  As the car is approaching the camera pans down a wire fence along the road.  Mounted on the fence is a series of rattlesnake heads with their mouths streched open.  The head nearest the camera exibets a pair of fangs on the left side of the head nearest the camera.  I had noticed this in the past but had forgotten it until this last time.  Now I’m not suggesting you watch the movie again, but it you ever do, be watchfull for this scene.  Now on to the final chapter.

     Once again I will be leaning heavly on the books I have used in the past and information I have gleaned from the internet.

     As stated in the last chapter rattlesnakes can be found from sothern Canada all the way thru Argentina.  In some places there is only one species and others several my exist side by side.  they are found in every main land state except for Alaska, delaware and Maine (see chapter two for a break down of numbers).


     Rattlssnakes occupy a number of distinct types of habitats, but avoid several others that are unappealing to them.  There are no aboreal, aquatic or borrowing rattlesnakes.  while it is possiable to find a lone rattler in water, up a tree on in a scrub, this is a exception, often more by accident than by design.  rattlesnakes do not borrow in the trur sense of the word, sidewinders do shuffel down into the sand, but do not burrow.  Other rattlers do spend a great deal of time under ground but use natural crevices and other animals burrows they have taken over.  Rattlers avoid certian habutiates  in that they evolved in in dry, terrestial enviroments and have became to specialised to try out others.  For instance, their rattles which is a asset to them in the prefered habitate would become a libality if they tried to swim, climb or burrow.  Also their facial pits would not function in water and below ground. 

     Moist areas are not very attractive to rattlesnakes.  Only the Massassauga is associated with this kind of habatiat and then only only the population towards the north-east portion of its range.  Here it occours in the damp prairies, meadows and bogs part of the year, and then it migrates to the higher , drier woods and fields for the summer.

     Many species live in the deserts and arid, scrub covered, simi desert regions.  these include the sidewinder which occours only where there is loose sand and sparce vegitation.  The Western Diamondbac , Mojavie and Western rattlesnake all thrive in all sorts of desert habitates.  Mountane species are numerious, especially in Mexico with a few spilling over into the United States.  Living in high rocky places, especiallt south-facing, boulder strewn slopes and talus slide ways.  Other highland species favor grassy meadows and clearing in foret of pine and oak.  In short they can be found all over.



     The Mexican dusky rattlesnake lives at evevations of up to 15,ooo feet in centeral Mexico, the highest of any American snake. (as a matter of interest  the highest altitude of any snake in the world is the Old World pit viper, there fore related to the rattlesnake , is Agkistrodon himalayanus,  at the altitude of 16,000 feet).  In our nothern latudides the climate is too cold in the winters for the rattler to survive.  In the United Stated the highest altitude attained by the rattlesnake is around 10,800-11,500 by the Western Daimondback in the Serria Nevada mountains ranges of sothern California.      This rattler has a especially wide range as it is also found below sea level in the Salton Sea area of California.  The sidewinder is found below sea level in Death Valley.


     Rattlesnakes use three distinct methods of getting around: serpentine crawling, rectilinear crawling and sidewinding.  the first two are common to all terrestial snakes and sidewindingis peculiar to only one in the States.

     Seperntine crawling is the method of locomotion where the snake uses its flanks to push against irrigularties on the surface.  Each part of the snake pushes against the same point of contact in sequence so the tracks, if visable, would consist of parallel-sided wiggle looking trail.  this is the standard method of travle for rattlesnakes.

     Rectilinear locomotion is straight-in-lone crawling, simular to a carerpillar.  Rather than many feet,  the snake used its ventral scales hooking one on some irrigularaty of ground and pulling the next scale foreward.  Then the next scale hooks the same spot and pulls foreward in turn.  This process s going along along the whole length of the snake , so that all times some sections are pulling and others are being pulled.  the effect is a smooth gliding motion and the trackis a smooth straight line.  Large heavy bodied snakes use this locomotion especially when the ground provides no large objests to push against.  all rattlesnake use this motion when moving quietly up on prey to get in striking distance.

     Sidewinding is pereformed by the sidewinder.  It starts by raising its head off the ground and throwing it sideways.  by the time the head has landed, several inches of the body will hqve followed it.  By the time the tail has followed the head had already began a new throw.  The overall effect is the snake is rapidly skimming over the surface in about a 45 degree angle to the line of its body.  Because every part of the body leaves the surface at some time , the track looks like a series of J shaped  marks on the sand.


     Like all reptiles, rattlesnakes cannot create their own body heat like mammals can.  They have to rely on outside sources of warmth,  this means directly or indirectly  the sun.  They may gain heat by basking in the sun’s rays or pressing their bodies against objects, such as rocks that have been warmed by the sun.  A burst of sun basking in the sun in the morning may be enough to reach and keep it going through out the day.  As mush as they need the suns warmth they can overheat and  cause death.  Therefore teampture is  the most important factor in a snakes activity, even more so than food.  the rattle snake thrives best at around 86 degrees F.  At tempetures much lower they have trouble digesting food and moving about.  If it gets much higher than this they can die od heat exaustion.

      the fore going information determines their activites.  At colder areas their movements is during the warmer parts of the day.  At warmer they are more active in the evenings and mornings and at night.  this explains why the mountane snakes are usually found on the south facing slopes. 

     This is as far as I am going on this subject you can figgure for your self when they are likely to be about in your area .




discaimer, sorry my damn spell check would not work this time so appoligise for all mistakes hope you could decipher this mess.



3 Responses to “!!RATTLERS #3 !!”

  1. Raven Says:

    eh, your spelling is usually close enough to figure out what you meant – at least you try and get your rambles and thoughts out there 🙂

  2. Steve Says:

    Karen and her husband just moved in to their new house in west Lancaster and have killed two Mojave Greens on the front porch in the last two weeks.

  3. ramblingbob Says:

    Gee. Stever if they are Mojave’s they are the deadlest of the American bunch. In the next chapter I’ll be covering the venom, they are Nurotoxic, which is worse it blocks nerve impulses to the muscles, includin those to the diaphragm. Death can occour within ten minutes with these guys, with the hemotoxic you can have up to 2 hours before treatment and death seldom occors with it. any way will cover it next time.

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