A Sidewinder Takes a Sniff

Notice how well it blends with its surroundings. I nearly stepped on this sidewinder rattlesnake at sunset in Death Valley near Mustard Canyon. I was intent on the spectacular full moon rising over the Amargosa Range and wasn't looking down. Luckily, I heard the telltale warning-- the rattle. These little guys (this one was not even three feet long), whose sideways pattern of moving is amazing to watch, pack more venom than the much larger Western Diamondback (up to eight feet long), and getting bitten in a place as remote as Death Valley can be bad news.

Characteristically, I searched for some sticks with which to pick the snake up and carry it well away from the road. Unable to find any, I used the tire iron from the car. The snake didn't seem to appreciate my efforts, but I felt better for them.

Snakes use their tongues for their sense of smell.

Death Valley National Park, CA-- March 2008


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Anya Jingle

Anya Jingle - Jun 25, 2008 9:56 pm - Voted 10/10

Great photo!

Wow, what a great shot Bob! We've had an encounter with a sidewinder this spring also for the first time ever. I got to realize then how small they really were.

Bob Sihler

Bob Sihler - Jun 26, 2008 11:17 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Great photo!

Thank you so much, Anya. I was surprised at how little they are, too. I'd only seen them in National Geographic videos before and almost couldn't believe it really was a sidewinder right at my feet. Fortunately, I still had my boots on.


imontop - Jun 25, 2008 11:33 pm - Voted 10/10

Nice job!

I'm glad to see that there are others out there that pick up snakes too, even though you used a tire iron.

Bob Sihler

Bob Sihler - Jun 26, 2008 11:19 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice job!

My hat is off to you. I've picked up a few rattlesnakes in my time, but always with a stick or, in this case, a tire iron. I've handled planty of non-venomous snakes without being bitten (and black rat snakes love to bite and have about the nastiest tempers I've seen in snakes), so I know how to pick them up safely, but I've never mustered the guts to do it by hand with the venomous ones. You're a braver man than I!


Noondueler - Oct 22, 2008 12:10 am - Voted 10/10

Pretty cool.

I like the blend of snake, colorful ground gravel and rock.

Bob Sihler

Bob Sihler - Oct 22, 2008 11:43 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Pretty cool.

Thanks! It was hard to see, and it was hearing it, not seeing it, that made me aware of it.


Noondueler - Oct 22, 2008 11:16 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Pretty cool.

Yes, I forgot to mention the rattle at the end like a feather in a cap.

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