A tale of two tails

26 07 2020

Now, the standard warning: If you don’t like snakes, you might want to skip this post. (Oops, maybe I should have led with this warning: This post is about snakes – rattlers, to be specific.)

It looks like one – a big, rather long one – all coiled up (but not at all aggressive). But it had two tails. I can’t imagine where the other head was (well, I can IMAGINE where it was; I just couldn’t SEE where it was).

I was just walking along when … (don’t all good tales start like that? especially when you walk into the bike shop with your bike – or some part of your bike – in pieces, and you say to the mechanic in tones of absolute incredulity, “I was just riding along when …” …)

So I was just walking along, in the basin, after a lovely, quiet visit with a band, some sprinkles falling randomly, at times, not seemingly connected, dark spots appearing spot by spot on bits of shale and flaked sandstone like magic, when, in the middle of a stride across the still-parched and -cracked earth, I heard the sound no one really wants to hear when their thoughts are still with the ponies they left behind and though they *think* they’re watching where they’re going, they’re really not because they think they’ve seen it all before …

Do you see it – err, them?

When I composed the pic, I put them deliberately off-center so you’d have to search for them a bit. The first thing you might see is the rattle (one of the rattles, the bigger (by far) rattle of the two rattles). Fortunately, IT (they?) heard ME, AND it rattled, AND I heard it because I was walking right toward it – not a foot to either side. (And how does THAT happen, in such big, wide-open country?)

I should also have taken an even bigger-view pic to show that I had (practically) miles of open space on either side of the snake pile on which to tread before – without the warning rattle – I would have tread right upon Mr. and Mrs. (?) Snake, of the Rattler family of Disappointment Valley, specifically County Line Drainage.

So the rattles gave me the heebie jeebies – and if you don’t understand that technical term and can’t find it in an *urban* dictionary (!), let me tell you that you might need, like Harry Potter in order to speak Parseltongue, to be actually confronted with the heebie-jeebie-inducing sound to understand the true heebie-jeebieness of it. My first reaction was to change direction in mid-stride (!) and give them a wide berth and apologize for (nearly) disturbing their repose. (I was, in fact, quite grateful that they heard my apparently thundering footfalls and gave me the warning.)

I was about to leave them to it – I mean, ya see one rattler in the middle of your path in the wilderness, ya’ve seen ’em all … right? Then I saw the weirdness (other than the kind of big bundle of snake itself) of the two tails and decided to whip out my trusty cell-phone-slash-camera.

Of course, it didn’t take long to realize that the moment needed the big gun, in order to record the moment for posterity (and you faithful blog readers, who always think you’re going to see lovely images of wildly wonderful wild horses). … Don’t you guys know anything by now?! Including the fact that although snakeys give me the heebies, I might as well share the joy of the jeebies?!

Are you ready? I think I’ve rambled on long enough to spare delicate viewers, no matter how large their screens might be (even if they’re vertical like we page designers used to have ours – and they who are still page designers may still have theirs).

I mean, it’s not gross, but in-your-face rattlers with one head and two tails IS rather, um, off-putting.

OK, you were warned.

Every time I shifted closer (because, I mean, you have to fill the frame, right?), out came the tongue.

Again, the disclaimer: For taking pix of the four-legged wildies, I have a telephoto zoom lens. It also comes in handy when photographing less-desirable (and less-legged) critters. You can see (I think, for those of you familiar with the behavior of reptiles of the slithery variety) that the snake is pretty relaxed here, about a minute or so (time flies while your heart stops racing from the heebie jeebies, not to mention the crazed and totally unnecessary dancing around you do in joy of having NOT been injected with other heart-racing-inducing material) after I first (nearly) disturbed it (err, them). The tails are relaxed, not upright and buzzing.

The temp was in the 70s, which is pretty unusual for Disappointment Valley (for anywhere in Southwest Colorado) in July, and it occurred to me that their piling might have been an attempt to ward off the, you know, *cold*. Who knew snakes could get *cozy*!?

Moving on in our observations, check out the rattles on the little tail … and the rattles on the bigger tail. Our rattlers are pretty small (especially compared with the Texas giants I grew up with). I haven’t seen (m)any around here longer than about a foot and a half (? it’s not like I asked them to stay still while I whipped out the ol’ tape measure) and not much thicker than a garden hose (OK, maybe a little thicker). This little pile of lovebirds (err, snakes) or mama (or daddy) and youngster wasn’t any bigger than a dinner plate (and maybe a bit smaller).

Here’s another view that shows the tails/rattles better (because you know you wanted a better view of the least-threatening and best ends of rattlesnakes).

In any case and from any view, I think the feeling was mutual that I didn’t actually step on them.

No snakes, no photographers, and definitely no horses, were (much) bothered or hurt in the making of these photos during this encounter. And I’m definitely not responsible for any dreams (nightmares) you may have if you scrolled down to see the pix (I was thinking about bears recently and dreamed about an alligator – go figure). You’re welcome. πŸ™‚



19 responses

26 07 2020

CREEPY! Glad they warned you!

26 07 2020

Me. Too. … ALWAYS. Whew!

26 07 2020
Maggie Frazier

Since here there are mainly garter snakes – one of which lives in or under my shed – this is really interesting. I have had “interactions” with what I think were milk snakes & THATS a different story – they can be really nasty.

26 07 2020

I think all the other snakes around here are harmless (unless you’re a rodent). There’s really nothing like walking along without a care in the world … and hearing that sudden buzz. Before it even reaches your brain from your ears and your brain makes sense of it, your legs, somehow, know to spin you around in some other direction. When your brain catches up, you hope your legs made the right decision!

26 07 2020

Rattlesnakes are very polite about letting one know that they are getting too close but the. sound of their rattle goes directly to the levitate and flee part of the brain.

26 07 2020

I’ll second that! I like to think I “step lightly,” but in times like these, I hope I thunder about like an elephant! πŸ™‚

26 07 2020

Heebie jebbies! Yep. That sound does it! I do appreciate the warning so I can turn tail and run!!

29 07 2020

That’s always my first thought, too! Then I get all curious and out comes the camera. πŸ™‚

26 07 2020
Karen Schmiede

Good thing that they warn people!

29 07 2020

Yes! And that they know/feel/sense us coming so they CAN warn us!

26 07 2020
Sue Story

Wow, TJ, another close rattlesnake sighting…and this time a little too close! I’m glad they have those rattles – multiple rattles in this case! – to let us know they’re right in front of us! Good for a jump-start of the heart…and other body parts! Quick- thinking, TJ, and nothing like those rattlesnakes to turn anyone into an Olympic-style athlete! 😊

29 07 2020

Ha – yes, always a jump-start for the ol’ heart!

26 07 2020

Akkkk! I would have left town!

29 07 2020

Ha! Too far away! πŸ™‚

27 07 2020

So glad you weren’t bitten by those snakes! I’ll have to remember that next time I come out to photograph the horses! Hoping you’ve received rain by now…

29 07 2020

You definitely always need to be aware that they’re here. You might look especially for them in particular places … and they’ll be in the places where you don’t necessarily expect them … and when you’re thinking about other things! We did get some more rain. … And it’s still very dry. πŸ™‚ It’s always nice to get some moisture, of any amount!

29 07 2020
Karen Keene Day

Okay, I admit your incredible rattler pics give me the creeps when I think of how many times I’ve trekked around the Basin with you TJ, always naively thinking I’d keep an eye out for these snakes and easily avoid them. Ha!
So-o glad you’re okay!

1 09 2020

Love the photos. I wouldn’t venture out into the brush without snake gaiters. We have copperheads locally. They will twitch their tail in leaves to emulate rattling. Never heard it. The last time I hiked in warm weather in the woods in shorts….I came across two HUGE reddish snake skins with faint hour glass markings….I DID levitate. It was the most nerve-wracking exit to a path that I’ve ever taken. Now I don’t go ‘in’ without high industrial rubber boots and/or snake gaiters.

1 09 2020

“Fortunately,” we have a lot of bare ground, so even though the rattlers are blend-into-the-ground brown and grey, at least they’re avoidable!

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