animals, nature, Texas

Rattlesnakes I’ve Known

During my time in South Texas, Central Texas, West Texas, and the Panhandle of Texas, I’ve been around a rattlesnake or two.

Like J. Frank Dobie said in his book, Rattlesnakes, they all have different personalities. Some are friendly, and some are bastards.

Once on a ranch in South Texas, I heard a loud buzz from under the horse I was on just as the old gray lunged back several feet. The maker of the noise was standing upright about a foot and a half, it and my horse eyeing each other. I took my 30/30 out of the scabbard and made a good shot. The rattle had eleven buttons—probably the biggest I ever killed.

In Clarendon, about an hour east of Amarillo in the Texas panhandle, I once saw a rattler who was so long her head was in the middle of the road and her tail was still in the grass. I got out to look and stir her up, but she tried very hard to pretend I wasn’t there. All she wanted was to cross the road, and so I left her alone and we departed as friends. I still get sentimental thinking about her.

Another little dude, though, had the opposite personality. Life in the ranch country of the Texas panhandle isn’t very exciting, so my young wife and I sometimes drove around the dirt roads in the evening with the windows open, looking for wildlife. We came across a little prairie rattler. I threw one rock at him—one little rock—and the snake unleashed all the fury of hell. He raised up buzzing and coming at me like he was going to eat me up. Amanda and I jumped in the pickup and got out of there. He stayed raised up and rattling, daring us to come back, until we couldn’t see him anymore.

Once I was on a friend’s ranch in Dicken’s County outside of Spur. We had a few chores to do, including cleaning out the tack room of an abandoned barn. During the day, we cleared eleven rattlesnakes of various sizes. Some were so tame we raked them up in the old straw and sticks without them making a protest. Early on, we carried several old seed hoppers out. After seeing so many snakes, we wondered if there were any in the hoppers. Sure enough, we shook two out that we carried earlier without even realizing.

That evening, we stood in a completely clean area, admiring our work, when we heard from outside a loud zzzzzzz. It was getting closer. And louder. And then the biggest snake of the day ducked under the wall (which was about 6 inches off the ground), raised back up, and was coming for us. If I hadn’t been scared several times already that day, I was then. This was either daddy or mama coming home from work, and they were not happy. My friend Mitchell, being the cowboy he is, had a 22 pistol full of rat shot in his holster and finished the noisy invader.

My wife was walking her blue healer one evening, again outside Clarendon, when a rattlesnake lunged from a sage bush to strike at the dog. He missed, but they headed back and did not go for a walk down that road for a long time. That’s the only time either of us has been ambushed by a snake.

Last summer and fall I came across two large rattlesnakes while walking my little dog Sam near our house. Sam lacks all situational awareness. He’d walk off a cliff, or into a lion’s mouth, while wagging his tail and looking at the ground. “Sam, look at the snake!” Sam wags his tail. I throw a stick toward the snake so Sam will notice. The snake is annoyed. Same only sees the stick and wags his tail. I move closer. Sam’s sense of smell, apparently, is no better than mine. I must hit the snake solidly with a stick to get him to rattle, and that’s Sam’s first clue that it’s there. Thank goodness Sam had his guard human with him. With the second snake, Sam would have stepped right on it if I allowed him to. And then we repeated all the above.

I don’t kill any non-venomous snakes, and I won’t kill rattlesnakes these days unless they invade my territory. They are a part of Texas, just like coyotes and buffalo. However, I have no mercy on copperheads or cottonmouths, as they are easterners and no more Texan than dudes from Dallas.

A Western Diamond Back is a man of his word, but never trust an Eastern Copperhead.

See also:

Rattlesnake Hunting in West Texas

About Nowhere Tribune

A husband and daddy, striving to love his neighbors and be kind to his pets. I love good food, good beer, and a few good friends. My other interests are hiking, taking walks, lifting weights, reading books by manly authors like Hemingway and Twain, and splitting fire wood with my bare hands.


42 thoughts on “Rattlesnakes I’ve Known

  1. We see a lot of snakes in Panama—In the rafters of the house even. Pretty much it’s machete first ask questions later. The locals are funny. “Ooh, that’s poisonous. What is it? I dunno. Or ooh, no venenoso. What is it? I dunno. They know what is and isn’t, but don’t know what half of them are called.

    Posted by jim- | May 27, 2019, 11:08 am
    • That is funny. Here in Texas, all but one of the poisonous snakes are pit vipers, and so they have a very distinctly shaped head. So I guess someone could recognize a poisonous snake without knowing what it is. Rattlers, though, are pretty easy to identify.

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | May 27, 2019, 12:02 pm
      • I was on an early morning hike here a couple years ago and I found a rubber boa that had coiled up in the trail and spent the night. Cool snake, but I couldn’t tell his head from his tail. Both were rounded blunt. I guess that would make a predator a little cautious. It did me

        Posted by jim- | May 27, 2019, 12:09 pm
      • Ha–yes, I bet. I’m a little cautious of all of them. Nothing scares me more than a mad chicken snake. Poisonous or not, I don’t want them biting me.

        Posted by Nowhere Tribune | May 27, 2019, 12:20 pm
  2. I have a healthy respect for snakes. Thankfully we don’t have any poisonous ones up our way, but they’re wonderful pest controllers and left to their own devices…. bother no one.
    As for rattlers, well I’m no expert, but I’m guessing throwing rocks at one isn’t recommended.

    Posted by Rivergirl | May 27, 2019, 11:19 am
  3. St Patrick looked after all our snakes here in Ireland a long time ago so it’s not something we have to worry about. We are lucky that way.

    Posted by Julie | May 27, 2019, 12:20 pm
    • When I heard that as a little boy, I asked my parents if we could move to Ireland. Are there really no snakes there?

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | May 27, 2019, 12:21 pm
      • No, none. I’d say it’s more our temperate climate that any godly interventions! I don’t think there are many in Northern Europe at all. I think they only like heat?

        Posted by Julie | May 27, 2019, 12:24 pm
      • Yes, you are right, I bet. I’ve seen a rattlesnake out in the cold, and he was a bit sluggish. They don’t like it in the cold. That’s why we have so many in Texas, I guess.

        Posted by Nowhere Tribune | May 27, 2019, 6:42 pm
  4. I’ve had my share of run ins with rattles. I lived on a farm when I first got married and even though we were surrounded by cotton fields those suckers were everywhere. My ex husband killed one underneath the stairs to our house because that one was all coiled up and ready to strike while I carried my 8 month old son into the house. I’m like you, I won’t kill a rattler, but the others those bastards can go to hell, like those dudes from Dallas, lmao.

    Posted by thehuntress915 | May 27, 2019, 1:22 pm
    • Thanks for reading. I knew that someone would know what I meant about the dudes from Dallas. Yeah, rattlesnakes like cotton country. And that one your ex killed–he needed it. That’s scary.

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | May 27, 2019, 6:41 pm
  5. I’ve never seen an Eastern Copperhead, but I’ll bet they like to hide in the grass.

    I’m like you, I like to leave the buzzworms alone, unless they’re near my house. I’m not afraid of them as long as I know where they’re at and can give a wide berth. But my wife is a different story. One time we’d gone about halfway up a trail when we encountered a medium-size rattler minding his own busy, lying peacefully on a rock next to the trail. I gave him about a ten foot berth, to be on the safe side. But my wife was even safer. She turned around and headed back where we came from, and I had to chase after her, because she was hiking so fast. We never did finish that trail, that day.

    Posted by Tippy Gnu | May 27, 2019, 4:06 pm
    • Ha! Mine would be the same. Yes, I’m sure you have plenty of rattlesnake stories there in California. You probably have no shortage once you get out of town.

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | May 27, 2019, 6:39 pm
  6. Keep posting blogs like this and send em to California and maybe it will slow down the flow of new residents. 😀 That’s a lot of rattlesnakes! We have Copperheads in our yard from time to time, and rat/chicken snakes, but I have not seen a Rattler here.

    Posted by pkadams | May 27, 2019, 8:19 pm
    • No, there aren’t many rattlesnakes in East Texas. I saw one timber rattler in Eastern Oklahoma years ago. My father in law says they are in the national forest in East Texas, but they are uncommon. Copperheads and Cottonmouths are plentiful, though.

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | May 28, 2019, 11:43 am
  7. Now snakes is one thing you don’t have to worry about in New Zealand! I shall keep that in mind if I hike in any grassy areas in America.

    Posted by TheCovertAtheist | May 28, 2019, 4:11 am
  8. I love snakes, one of my favourite animals!

    Posted by imghostlypale | May 28, 2019, 6:54 am
    • I respect them and find them interesting, but I can’t say I “love” them. Do you have many near where you live? I wouldn’t think so.

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | May 28, 2019, 11:40 am
      • There are some snakes here in the woods. And there’s a lot of nature in the neighbourhood I live in, so we do have snakes here too. I respect them and love them, they are more scared of us than we are of them. I will have a snake as a pet one day, for sure!

        Posted by imghostlypale | May 31, 2019, 2:33 pm
      • I agree they are more afraid of us, and with good reason. Some people kill every snake they see. I would not want one as a pet, though. They just aren’t very soft or cuddly.

        Posted by Nowhere Tribune | May 31, 2019, 2:57 pm
      • Oof! You have to go on youtube and watch snake videos, I saw snakes that acted like dogs, some of them reaally like to be pet and they like to cuddle. I saw one that loves having their human rub their chin. It really depends on the owner, if they want to have a docile and friendly snake, they will handle it every day. They can be very cute and cuddly!

        Posted by imghostlypale | May 31, 2019, 3:51 pm
  9. My funniest snake story is one evening I was sitting out back with my girlfriend and all of the sudden the grackles up in a tree all started squawking like crazy and this lasted for several minutes until a big fat snake came falling down out of the tree and slithered away. Glad I wasn’t standing under it.

    I later found the shed skin of one right next to an empty bird nest when doing some pruning.

    Posted by Jason Frels | May 28, 2019, 9:36 am
    • That is a good snake story. I’ve had the birds alert me to a snake before, too. When they start acting a certain way, you know there’s either a snake or cat nearby.

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | May 28, 2019, 11:38 am
  10. We occasionally find snakeskins around our house which are a nice reminder that there’s a 4 ft. long black snake in the area. Luckily, I’ve never seen a rattler. The sound alone terrifies me.

    This isn’t the first time you’ve got me looking up rattlesnake videos at work.

    Posted by Shayne | May 28, 2019, 11:18 am
  11. I do a bunch of hiking and trail running at Cedar Ridge Preserve in Dallas county. I do run across plenty of your copperhead friends when the temperature heats up. The surprise was when their was a week of coral snake sightings in which I was about as scared as I can get.

    Posted by bigguyhiking | May 28, 2019, 1:29 pm
    • Ah, they are rare to see. I’ve only ever seen two coral snakes in the wild. Both were in South Texas near Lytle. They can’t bite through your shoes like a copperhead can.

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | May 28, 2019, 1:31 pm
  12. That’s absolutely terrifying!

    Posted by Middle Aged Momma | May 31, 2019, 5:49 am
  13. I can’t imagine seeing that many snakes in my lifetime.

    Posted by Snowbird In Training | May 31, 2019, 5:42 pm
  14. Dudes from Dallas… Ha, ha ha… I nominated you for Sunshine Blogger Award. That’s right killing rattle snakes is now officially spreading “Sunshine” — words were designed to be redefined.

    Posted by Kieran | June 11, 2019, 10:52 am
  15. California rattlers aren’t as aggressive as you describe, probably because they’re Californian… laid back, lol. I’m a hiker and see them from time to time, but I never heard of one actually chasing someone… scary! I guess some are more aggressive?

    Posted by Clever Girl | July 11, 2019, 2:01 pm


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