Dog-gone it, this snake was slithering through the grass, just
minding its own business while searching for a tasty field rodent,
when a nosy dog came by and started sniffing at it. The startled
snake swiftly coiled and lunged at the intruder.
Dog-gone it, this snake was slithering through the grass, just minding its own business while searching for a tasty field rodent, when a nosy dog came by and started sniffing at it. The startled snake swiftly coiled and lunged at the intruder.
Fortunately for the dog, the snake was a non-venomous gopher snake and not a rattler. Not so fortunately for the snake, the dog – who was now in a very annoyed mood – grabbed the reptile, ran off, and began shaking it. But the snake was lucky: A neighbor witnessed the goings-on, rescued the poor critter and brought it to the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center for emergency treatment of a deep puncture wound (visible in photo) 6 inches from its head.
The snake’s luck continues: The injury is not life-threatening and is healing well with daily administrations of antibiotics. The 4 1/2 foot long snake is kept under observation in a clean terrarium to ensure that the wound doesn’t become infected. When the snake has fully recuperated – likely within a week or two – it will return to its gopher-pocked home fields, much to the delight of the landowner who is anxious for the return of this natural, environmentally-safe (except to the rodents) and free method of pest control.
The weather is warming up and finally drying out. People are outside more often, soaking up rays on the beach, hiking in the wilderness and tending to their home gardens. Snakes, too, are out basking in the sunshine, because reptiles are ectothermic and can’t control their body temperatures. You may even see one lazing on the sidewalk or road. Unless they are in danger of being run over by a vehicle, leave them alone.
In California, the rattlesnake is the ONLY poisonous native snake. Though a gopher snake is somewhat similar in appearance and behavior to a rattlesnake – when threatened, the gopher snake will coil, flatten its head, vibrate its tail and make a rattle-like hissing sound – a major difference between the species, besides the fact that rattlesnakes have rattles and venomous fangs, is the shape of their head. Rattlesnakes have a triangular head.
Fortunately, rattlesnakes prefer to save venom for prey and will flee when they sense the vibrations of humans approaching. Be cautious anyway and watch your step when out hiking and avoid sticking your hand in crevices or woodpiles.
If you do come upon a rattlesnake, stop, back up and allow the creature slither away. Treat them and all wildlife with respect, for your safety and theirs.