Hi, I’m Holly Strand from Stokes Nature Center in beautiful Logan Canyon.
Its rattlesnake season in Utah, for the warm weather draws them out of their dens. We have 5 species plus 2 subspecies of rattlesnake in the state. The Great basin rattlesnake is the most widespread, living all across Western Utah at elevations up to 9000 feet. This is the fellow you see around Logan. Another subspecies of western rattler–the midget faded rattlesnake –is dominant in the eastern part of the state. The Hopi rattlesnake and the greenish colored prairie rattlesnake are found in southwestern Utah. And the Mojave rattlesnake, speckled rattlesnake, and sidewinder are found only in the extreme southwest corner of Utah.
The rattle itself is a unique biological feature. It’s a loose, but interlocking series of nested segments—actually modified scales– at the end of the tail. When vibrated, the rattle produces a hissing sound. Kevin Colver– an expert in natural sound recordings –provided this clip of a Mojave rattlesnake. Sound from Westernsoundscape.org Hmm. wouldn’t that make a great ringtone?
Aggression and venom in rattlesnakes vary by both species type and by individual. The western diamondback rattlesnake is the archetypal large, aggressive and very dangerous species, responsible for the majority of human fatalities. But its northern range limit is south of the Utah border. However, the Mojave rattler found in southeastern Utah is extremely toxic and excitable. Its venom attacks both the nervous system and circulatory system.
Luckily, rattlesnakes aren’t out to get us—mainly they just want to be left alone. You’ll be fine if you stay aware of what might be lurking in or around rocks. And don’t walk barefoot or in open-toed shoes in their habitat. Also, use a flashlight after dark –most rattlesnakes are active at night too!
Thanks to the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation—the Russell family for supporting Stokes Nature Center programs. And to Kevin Colver for the sound of the rattlesnake. Additional nature sound recordings can be found at 7loons.com and westernsoundscape.org
For Wild About Utah and Stokes Nature Center, I’m Holly Strand.
Audio: Courtesy & Copyright 2006 Kevin Colver, https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections & Univ. of Utah WesternSoundscape.org
Images: Courtesy & Copyright 2009 Holly Strand, Stokes Nature Center
Text: Holly Strand, Stokes Nature Center
Sources & Additional Reading:
Klauber, Laurence M. 1982. Rattlesnakes. Their Habits, Life Histories, and Influence on Mankind. Berkeley: University of California Press, https://www.amazon.com/Rattlesnakes-Habits-Histories-Influence-Mankind/dp/0520210565 (1997 Version)
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Utah Conservation Data Center. https://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/ucdc/ (Accessed July 17, 2009)
Rattlesnake safety tips, Wildlife, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, https://wildlife.utah.gov/wildlife-news/1671-rattlesnake-safety-tips-2015.html (Posted June 19, 2015, 11:06 am) (Accessed Aug 7, 2016)