Saturday, May 16, 2009

Snake in the Florida Grass

Guest blogger, Fran Palmeri writes about her recent photography session with a rattlesnake.

“The gentle Ben” of the snake world is how D. Bruce Means characterizes the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Means is the co-author of Priceless Florida: Natural Ecosystems and Native Species--an essential tome for people who like Florida.

As an ecologist, he’s a worldclass authority on the rattler, the largest venomous snake in North America which sometimes reaches 8 feet in length and weighs 10 pounds and has a lightning swift strike.

I admit to being shaken when I encountered it a few weeks ago. It was the first I’d seen. Declining populations make them a rare find. They fill most people with dread and have been persecuted over centuries. Often to see a snake is to kill it. At “rattlesnake roundups” they are captured, killed and eaten. In parts of New England estern diamondbacks have been extirpated; on other states they’re an endangered species. They’ve become rare even in Florida.

All the naturalists I spoke with agreed the Eastern Diamondback is not an aggressive creature. Western Diamondbacks are often described as more irascible, defensive and stubborn. But don’t go chasing one. Practice field etiquette: never corner an animal, move towards it aggressively, get too close, stare it in the eyes, or make sudden movements.

I was confident I’d be able to take a few pictures without disturbing this rattler. It looked me over and then moved away.

1 comment:

SHIMI said...

blog walking
nice to be here