Saturday, September 5, 2015

Venomous Snakes of Late Summer

It's been one good summer, and to make it even better, I've had TONS of great animal sightings in its last few weeks.

Among these are a few coyotes, some bobcats, lots of bears, and even venomous snakes.

I saw this Eastern Timber Rattlesnake in the Shenandoah mountains last weekend.  These ones will put a hurtin' on you if they bite you, but from the stories I've heard from this area, they will usually give you the rattle sound as a warning before they strike.  Who knows though?  I sure haven't bothered any enough to find out.

It was good to keep a safe distance and not touch it, even though it looked pretty dead to me.

This other one is a venomous copperhead from Fairfax County.  Copperheads are some of my favorite snakes, and though their bite can easily hospitalize a human adult, I still try to get a few pictures of both live and dead ones.

I tried to highlight and focus on both the interesting pattern on the copperhead, as well as the bright yellow-green tail.   That yellow tail is a good indicator that this one is a juvenile.

Juvenile copperheads almost always have this feature, and is used as a caudal lure, luring prey to them when they wiggle it back and forth.

They are fascinating.  Even if I try to get a few pictures of a live one, I always look directly at the animal and try not to disturb it.

I don't kill these snakes, as they are just part of the nature around here, plus they are almost always seen by me in protected natural areas.

Venomous snakes are not something that should be "fooled" with.  They can kill you.  Though it is rare in the area that this happens, it still is possible, and knowing what venomous snakes look like can be very helpful in places where they are commonly found (parks, river banks, rocky outcroppings, woodpiles).  These snakes should not be feared, but people should be aware of where they most likely are going to be, what to do if you get bit, and more importantly, to not pick them up.

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