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Posted by desiree on August 01, 2002 at 12:08:50:
A Learning Link to UCLA Stunt Ranch
July 30 2002
What animal is more afraid of you than you are of it? You'll often hear it before you see it, and it grows a new rattle every time it sheds its skin, which is one to three times a year. It's a rattlesnake!
Our regional rattlesnake is the Southern Pacific rattler. Adults are 3 to 4 feet long, have cool, dry, diamond-patterned, olive-gray-brownish-colored bodies, and are covered with scales. Their heads are triangle-shaped with wide jaws and fangs. Rattles used for making noise are at the end of their tails. Newborns are 10 inches long with a small, horny button on the tip of their tails.
Rattlesnakes live in dry areas, making their homes in burrows, rock crevices or caves. They eat lizards, ground squirrels, small rabbits, rats, mice, birds and frogs. Rattlers are important because they help to control the rodent population.
Rattlesnakes try to keep a constant body temperature when active by seeking cool or warm places in their environment, but can come out day or night and are seen primarily from late spring through fall.
Most rattlesnakes are shy. They strike in self-defense and will leave when they feel safe. If you encounter a rattlesnake you should give it the "right of way," stay alert, and watch where you put your hands and feet. Wear sturdy shoes when out walking in grassy or rocky areas. Don't depend on the rattle to warn you because it may be missing or broken. Very few people are bitten by rattlesnakes, but the bite from adults is painful and dangerous. If bitten, get medical help immediately.
The UCLA Stunt Ranch Reserve is a 310-acre, UCLA-managed environmental studies field station that was homesteaded by the Stunt family in 1885. It is home to a variety of animals including rattlesnakes. To learn more, you can take part in a docent-led tour of the reserve or participate in one of its K-12 environmental programs led by the Cold Creek docents. Tours can be booked by calling (818) 346-9675, Ext. 343. For free curriculum guides and more information on the Stunt Ranch Reserve, go to nrs.ucop.edu/reserves/stunt.html or call (310) 206-3887.
This Learning Link was provided by Carol Felixson, director of education/community outreach, UCLA Stunt Ranch Santa Monica Mountains Reserve.