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