Snakes on the move!

Western diamondback rattlesnake

By Rick LoBello, Board Member

Late summer rains here in the Chihuahuan Desert are once again bringing out all kinds of snakes. A couple of years ago I came across a five-foot diamondback rattlesnake crossing the road near the Westside Open Reserve at the Community Park.


Many people when they see a snake on the road are frightened and either run it over or try to kill it some other way. While venomous snakes like rattlesnakes are rarely welcome in residential areas they do serve a purpose in nature and should be left alone. Learn how to rattlesnake proof your yard and make sure that your yard is clear of wood piles and areas that attract rodents.

Diamondback rattlesnake (venomous)

Rattlesnakes are pitvipers and are especially well equipped to find rodents and other small mammals.  Most snakes smell their prey using their tongues which flicker in out and then push chemical smells to the Jacobson’s organ on the roof of the mouth.  Pitvipers have the added advantage of having special heat sensing pit organs which can detect the body of a warm blooded rodent. Rodents often compete with people for food and can carry diseases that can be transmitted to people. We need snakes to help control rodent numbers.  Learning to share our planet with snakes also helps to ensure a healthy environment for other living things.

Black-tailed rattlesnake (venomous)
Rock rattlesnake (venomous)
Patch-nosed snake (non-venomous)

Cover – Linda Tanner, Wikimedia Creative Common
Top – Squamatologist , Wikimedia Creative Common
All others – Rick LoBello

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