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Posted by KRIS on September 29, 1998 at 13:49:54:
Hey all....I've been herping for as long as I can remember, but I can tell a story that I never believed would happen to me. Keep in mind, I'm a careful herper, scanning boulders, rocks, brush, etc. for the slightest disruption of pattern or texture that reveals a snake or lizard.
I was herping in a dry desert wash (a dry stream bed) in Arizona in mid March just poking around seeing what was out. Except for the occasional Uta (small lizard) I didn't see much. It was morning (about 9:00) and it had rained the night before, so it was still relatively cool out, otherwise this story very well could have ended differently. I was wearing shorts and high top shoes, and while this isn't "approved herp clothing" in Az, I had planned to be there all day, and it gets pretty warm by midday in Arizona, even in mid March. Anyway, on either side of this particular part of the wash, there was a small plateu where the now non-existant water had eaten into the side of the mountain. I climbed atop on of these plateus and began poking around. I came upon a spot where there was much brush and cover. Even before I came upon this spot, I thought to myself "This would be a good place to see an atrox (western diamondback rattlesnake). Well, I was standing, scanning the ground and was literally eight inches from placing my foot on the ground dircetly in front of me. Wouldn't ya know it? There, directly underfoot, coiled in a tight coil was a cute little atrox staring right up at me and flicking his tongue! Needless to say, I was surprised at my lack of scanning! It wasn't until I had caught the animal, looked it over and released it that my knees got a little weak. If it hadn't have been cool outside and early morning, I could have been in real trouble. Likely, the snake was cold, and so he was sluggish, but he knew I was there as he was just filicking his tongue up at me! In my experience, atrox don't take to kindly to huan company being that close without even buzzing! WHEW!!!
The very next week, a friend and I were herping the very same wash and I had told him the story. He laughed. Unknowingly coming upon the same exact spot I had seen the snake earlier, he actually said:"This looks like a nice place for an atrox." However, this time the snake wasn't there......
So what have we learned children? First, it's a good idea to wear hiking boots and pants when hiking....Second, (if herping) SCAN THE TERRITORY RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU CAREFULLY!!! Third, fourth, fifth, sixth......:)
Happy (Safe) Herping!!!