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Old 05-20-2013, 06:47 PM   #1
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Crotalus or pituophis?

Here's a new one, for me at least: Attacked by a snake that launched itself from under a rock along a trail. He missed. My question is whether it was a Western Diamondback or a bull snake.

I was following Joyce and our two dogs. They were 20' ahead of me. I heard a hiss and reflexively jumped forward with my patented snake cry. I turned to see what was behind me as I landed. (I saw or imagined open jaws out of the corner of my eye as I heard the hiss.)

The snake, meanwhile, was out from under its rock stretched in a zig-zag across the trail. Probably around 4' long, thick as your arm and colored like a Dback or a bull snake. I didn't see the tail, I think it was still under the rock.

I lost my balance as I landed, fell to the trail and came back up in one motion. By the time I was upright, the snake was gone. I started back to see if it was still around but Joyce called out that it was gone. She had turned when she heard me and saw it moving fast across the trail and down the hill. She agreed it was large but was too far away to id it.

I've heard bull snakes will hiss though I've never experienced it. This guy gave no warning rattle though I thought I heard rattles as it moved behind me. Most sources agree c. atrox is aggressive but say they "usually" aren't offensive aggressors. I can't imagine I moved fast enough for a rattler to miss so I wonder if it was a feint move before sliding away. I understand bull snakes will fake attacks but I've never heard of a snake flinging itself out from a rock like that. Any ideas?

BTW, this is SMB related cuz that's what we drove to the trail. :-)


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Old 05-20-2013, 07:10 PM   #2
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Crotalus or pituophis?

Have seen very few snakes so cannot help with he ID. Am glad that the mystery snake missed and that you are all OK.
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Old 05-21-2013, 12:19 AM   #3
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Re: Crotalus or pituophis?

From the behavior I would guess a Gopher Snake (Bull Snake) but it's unusual even for them.
Where were you?
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Old 05-21-2013, 06:29 AM   #4
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Re: Crotalus or pituophis?

lmao @ patented snake cry heard this cry this last weekend from one of my friends wives. too funny.

ive been hissed at just this last weekend by this guy.


he was just shy of 4' long. he hissed a few times but stopped completely after i picked him up. bull snakes will be considerably louder, be more aggressive, and strike more the older they get. ive caught many bull snakes right at the 6' mark. even at 6' though, none of them were anywhere near thick as my arm. the thickness would lead me to believe it was a diamondback, but im not sure if they hiss as ive never crossed paths with one. all we have here are prairie rattlers and ive only seen 3-4 out and about, but none of them hissed...and i screwed with all of them. so if they were going to hiss, they would have, lol.

rattlers get thick, and bullsnakes are usually only fat when they eat something big. when thats the case, they will be extra aggressive when they are that lothargic and need to put on a good front cause they wont be able to flee as easily. so it is possible that it was a bullsnake with a full belly. rattlesnakes arent known for slithering away all that quickly. they usually stand thier ground as they have a pretty good defence.

bullsnakes also shake thier tail to mimmic a rattler. will only work if they are in dry leaves or something similar though.

honestly, my guess is a bullsnake with a full belly. they have terrible eyesight and will strike if they think they are cornered. which being under a rock could cause. plus your wife and both dogs walking by could have been just enough action to rile it up and finally strike when you walked by. when you jumped forward, it saw its chance to get away and did so.
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Old 05-21-2013, 07:14 AM   #5
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Crotalus or pituophis?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shenrie
lmao @ patented snake cry heard this cry this last weekend from one of my friends wives. too
:-) they're pretty distinctive

Quote:
Originally Posted by shenrie
honestly, my guess is a bullsnake with a full belly. they have terrible eyesight and will strike if they think they are cornered. which being under a rock could cause. plus your wife and both dogs walking by could have been just enough action to rile it up and finally strike when you walked by. when you jumped forward, it saw its chance to get away and did so.
That makes sense. You also remind me that a rattler probably wouldn't run, esp. a diamondback. They'll leave after you leave but not before. That's what I was looking for when I spun around--an angry diamondback defending its turf. The fact that the snake was gone supports a feint attack by a bull snake who fled in the confusion.
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Old 05-21-2013, 07:19 AM   #6
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Crotalus or pituophis?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Viejo
From the behavior I would guess a Gopher Snake (Bull Snake) but it's unusual even for them.
Where were you?
Walking a rocky trail below a cliff face near Santa Fe, home to plenty of bull snakes, diamondbacks, and everyone else. :-) Even saw a massagua once.
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Old 05-21-2013, 07:56 AM   #7
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Re: Crotalus or pituophis?

The massasauga is the only rattlesnake we have in lower Michigan. I always thought it was just a northern snake and had to go look at a range map. Didn't realize they went all the way down into SW states. When I was a kid we had about 20 acres of flat grassy meadow around a small lake and you could walk out there most anytime in the summer and find 3-4 massasauga rattlers sunning.

I don't have a problem with snakes but put a spider in the path and get ready for the little girl screams
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:48 AM   #8
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Re: Crotalus or pituophis?

While I've had several R-snakes rattle to warn me, in once instance a good 6'+ rattler struck at me and gave out the most demonic belch that totally freaked me out. At least he missed. A guy 6 feet from me and the snake jumped about 2 feet into the air. After the snake made its way off we both laughed how the sound scared us more than the rattle.
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