Snake, rattle, and roll

Posted: September 28, 2020 in Animals
Tags: , , , , , ,

The desert is snake country as we were reminded along the trail at the visitors center at Saguaro National Park where we saw several of these signs. You can be sure I was thrilled to learn that of the 36 species of rattlesnakes that live in North and South America (rattlers are found nowhere else), 13 call Arizona home. That’s a good reason not to hike with headphones, since a rattle is the snake’s way of letting you know they’re there and would rather you weren’t. And since the desert “summer”, or at least the season when it’s hot enough for snakes to be out and about, lasts from April to October, it behooves a hiker to take a good deal of caution about where s/he puts hands and feet and to listen for that warning sound, something you can’t do with music or a podcast blaring in your ears.

As I was taking photos along the trail, my husband called to me, saying our daughter had found something I’d want to photograph. She’d first thought it was a plastic bag, but a closer look showed that it was a long, intact molting of a snake. Now I don’t know for a fact that it was from a rattlesnake but after having seen several of the warning signs, I think there’s a good chance that it was.

Snakes shed their skin during active periods when they’ve out grown the skin and rub against rough surfaces to help. Rough surfaces are easy enough to find here. A closer look shows the geometric beauty of the sloughed off skin.

We’ve now been to the park twice and I’ve taken a lot of photos, but I must admit this was the most unique thing we’ve found so far, even if it didn’t produce the most stunning shots.

  1. I would run like the wind… but I also run for a piece of an ole waterhose LOL

    • πŸ™‚ Never hurts to be cautious, right?

    • This comment made me laugh! I once witnessed a friend who ‘ran like the wind’ when I calmly pointed to a snake almost directly below us in a ditch. She screamed and dashed across a grassy field, stopped – and the wind made the grasses rustle, and she screamed again and dashed in another direction. That was about 30 years ago, and I still all but bend over with laughter; she personified the classic cartoon of a woman screaming with fright.

  2. Oh my goodness! I do not like snakes!!

  3. ledrakenoir says:

    An empty snake, fascinating. πŸ˜€
    What about mountain bikes and horse ride – too diffecult.?

    • You can’t ride bikes or horses on this trail, Drake, and honestly right now it’s too hot for me to be interested in riding even if I had a horse here. Riding in Wyoming in the mountains has pretty much spoiled me for great places to ride. πŸ™‚ There are lots of trails where mountain bikes are allowed, although I don’t have one, and horses are allowed in parts of the Preserve where I do most of my walking. I haven’t seen anyone on horseback yet, but I’ve seen evidence that horses have been by. πŸ™‚

  4. de Wets Wild says:

    What an exciting find, Janet, and one of those rewards you get for paying attention to nature’s finer details – including the sounds around you.

    I can understand wanting to listen to music while walking on a suburb in the city but to wear earphones while out hiking in nature seems a sin!

    • I’m happier that we found only the skin and not the snake that left it. Once it cools off more, there’s less chance of a snake encounter, but it makes sense to always pay attention, whether for snakes or anything else.

  5. Sheree says:

    Not a fan of anything that slithers

  6. As you know, I’m an outside person, but snakes scare the heck out of me, always have and always will. That being said, checking out your find from the comfort of my easy chair is pretty impressive. Hope you and your daughter are having a marvelous visit. Daughters are special people. πŸ™‚

    • I’m glad I could share this without you feeling scared, Judy. You’re probably as happy to see it from this distance as we were to know the snake wasn’t around anymore or at least anywhere we could see it. We had a wonderful visit with our daughter. πŸ™‚

  7. peggyjoan42 says:

    Had a lot of encounters with live rattle snakes in Arizona. Remember being out hiking in the sand dunes on the Indian Reservation and watching a side winder cross the sand. It was actually a beautiful thing to watch the way that snake moved. Glad I was not real close to the dude. Happy you only saw the shed snake skin on your walk. Liked your title “Snake, rattle and roll.” Cute

    • My husband saw a rattler one of his first days riding his bike along the canal. Fortunately we haven’t had another live sighting since, but I’ll always be careful when hiking. Staying on the trail is one of the best ways to stay safe. (Glad you liked the title.)

  8. Dan Antion says:

    Eeew. Good photo, but I gotta go.

  9. That skin is a good chance to get an unclose look without danger, unless the snake is nearby

  10. Oh boy, snakes are something else… I didn’t think I was afraid of them, but I realized I never had to contend with them before. Now that I’m living in Texas, it’s a whole different story…

  11. Neat find! You’re learning more about the natural world around you, and finding neat things!

    I have only seen one snake this year which I think is weird. I wonder if the cooler temperatures due to the ash and smoke are keeping them underground longer and out in the fields?

  12. Su Leslie says:

    Wow: it really is beautiful.
    Fun fact: my family emigrated to New Zealand (rather than Australia, Canada or Southern Africa) because there are no snakes here. It was my mother’s absolute bottom line.

  13. Joanne Sisco says:

    I would consider this the best snake encounter yet πŸ™‚

  14. Leya says:

    Beautiful! And safe…

  15. Resa says:

    Absolutely fascinating, Janet, these are the most interesting shots!

    • It was a fascinating find, Resa. Just glad we didn’t see the snake in the midst of struggling out, although I would think that might happen at night. πŸ™‚ But who knows the ways of snakes?

  16. morphmagic says:

    Hey, by the way that skin was not from a rattler, check out the head shape, oval. Rattlers have triangle heads, plus see how long and skinny the skin is? I guess some sort of a tree snake or a cat snake

    • morphmagic says:

      I am sort of a snake finatic, hope you guys found that helpful. The oval head tells me it probably was not venomous, though you can’t be too careful. Certainly not a rattler

    • Thanks! We’re not snake experts by any means but it’s still a cool thing to find. I appreciate the correction and if I find another skin or see an actual snake, I’ll try to remember that.


      • morphmagic says:

        Great! I’m really glad that I could help and I agree that is such a cool find! However personally I would prefer to find the snake itself

  17. morphmagic says:

    If you are interested in learning more about snakes, then please visit my blog site: For Goodness Snake! It’s an all-about-snakes blog and has lots of cool pics and educational blogs, let me know what you think!