Thursday, October 10, 2013
A Rattler at My Door
At dusk I fetched my mail, and when opening the screen door to get back into the house nearly stepped on a young snake right on the concrete threshold. (Between door and threshhold is a gap of half an inch). "Oh!" I cried. "Excuse me!" It stayed put and I saw this was not offspring of my house blacksnake, or a garter or milk snake. It stayed in striking position, head raised, the entire time, so I used the zoom feature to get closer, but then the photos turned grainy. I kept shooting while its tail -- very thin at the tip -- vibrated like a needle of a gauge that has reached its upper limit, and knew it was a rattler. So when it finally struck out I backed away and shut the screen door carefully so as not to pinch it and annoy it further, and hoped it would then travel away from the house rather than come in. I don't fear snakes--I respect them--but this was my first photo session in the house with a venomous snake, a Pygmy Rattler (Sistrurus miliarius streckeri Gloyd --try to say THAT after three beers). No one is known to have died from a Pygmy Rattler bite, says the fine manual The Amphibians and Reptiles of Missouri. That manual says it's a southern Missouri snake and it is not recorded to have appeared in Jefferson County, but I'm tellin' ya, it was here. This was a baby 5 or 6 inches long. I hope it doesn't go summon its 20-inch mom and bring her back to scold me.