Saturday, September 22, 2012

Readers Write In: Can We Positively Identify This as a Rattlesnake?

"Can you positively identify this as a rattlesnake?  I found this in my front yard and it is now in a box. Help! 

Thanks for your help.


   I told Judy that I was sorry to disappoint her but I could not positively identify this as a rattlesnake. I could however, positively tell her that it was not a rattlesnake.

  It was clear to me that this snake was not from the southeastern United States (where most of my identification requests come from). Although I was fairly certain about identity of this snake, a resident of the western United States, I asked Judy for some more information just to be sure.

"We found it in front of our house in the foothills of Fremont.  Both my daughter and granddaughter froze when they saw it strike towards our cattle dog.  The small snake continued to strike and hiss at everything that got near it.  We got it in a box by using a toy fishing net.  We will give it to our landscapers to release it away from the homes.  With your help in identification this snake will be released somewhere in the Mission area foothills. Now we've just found a tarantula walking around.  I feel like I'm living in 'Wild Kingdom'.

Fremont, CA"

 When harmless and non-venomous snakes try to defend themselves, they are often mistaken for rattlesnakes. This might be because many different snakes shake their tail when they are threatened. Without taking a close look, a shaking tail might look like a rattle...but it's not.

 I've never seen the snake Judy found in her front yard, but there is a close relative living in my neck of the woods. This species is also a big hisser, but it's just a big bluff...they very rarely bite.

  What kind of snake is this?

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