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Old 10-02-2014, 03:34 PM   #29
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Did a jet boat tour on the Colorado River a couple years ago. The captain was a very knowledgeable young fellow.

Told us the reason you do not see as many Saguaro cactus along the river as there used to be was because everyone was killing the rattle snakes. Rattle snakes kept the pack rats down. Pack rats eat around the base of the saguaro which kills them.
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Old 10-02-2014, 10:03 PM   #30
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Francesca I didn't catch that "...My BIL kills them all the time in Tucson, along with many other people I know throughout the state.." Well, as you allude, they are always looking for a new circle of friends.

Rattlesnakes in populated places have "evolved" in the manner that those which rattled were killed and those that did not rattle survived and propagated. I always liked the Native American attitude (at least it was written as such in some Boy Scout book or another from many years ago, probably Ernest Thomson Seton) that when one hears a rattlesnake do its rattle, you say "thank you brother for your warning!" and go on your way.

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Old 10-03-2014, 01:16 PM   #31
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Most of the snakes my BIL kills are babies that he runs into at night that are catching the last bit of warmth on the road (no rattling). He lives in the foothills in Tucson and sees quite a few of them - like several a week. He worries about his dogs and kids getting bitten although the kids are old enough now and the dogs get rattlesnake training every year.

I've also seen a few in the Tucson area when mountain biking. They like to sun themselves in the middle of the paths in the mornings. I just bunnyhop over them most of the time. In general, they can only strike up to 1/3 of their body length when coiled and if the are not coiled they can only strike a very short area.

I live up in Sedona and have only seen one or two in 5 years. When it's cool (< 80 deg) they like the sun and are easy to spot. When it's warmer, they like the shade and hide out in rock piles or at the base of shrubs. As was said, they are lazy in the mornings until things warm up.
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Old 10-03-2014, 01:31 PM   #32
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The problem with biking and snakes is that bicycles do not give much of a seismic message to snakes. They are generally aware of you when walking from foot steps but a bike doesn't give off much of "footprint" in seismics. I have nearly run over a couple of rattlesnakes (Diamondbacks, Western and Black-tailed are primary wanderers in southern NM desert near Las Cruces, but there are about five other species found there) and they barely had time to raise their heads in a (Mod Edit) look (OK, I am anthromorphising the critters). I don't bunnyhop but I most assuredly pull my feet out of the rat traps and raise them as high as I can.

Once about 25 years ago I took our kids (about 5 and 8) for a hike in the Organ Mountains. I noticed one of Charlie's shoes was untied and suggested he tie it. He sat down and an 18" baby Diamondback (we had plenty of time to examine as we held the dogs ) struck the bottom of Charlie's sneaker. We went on our way and returned two hours later and saw the same snake wandering about 100 m away (had the be the same snake since I have only seen two Diamondbacks this small on 60 years of hiking and rock climbing). We got home and they excitedly told Mom all about it - and then I heard all about it from Mom for quite a while.
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Old 10-03-2014, 02:53 PM   #33
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Killing rattlesnakes generally just brings more snakes. Kill them and more rodents live more rodents more snakes. I realize when they are close to your living environment it is compelling but as a rule it is best to leave them alone.
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