Rattlesnake Wakeup Call
If you haven't seen the video "Rattlesnake Wakeup Call," make sure you don't watch it at bedtime or you may be up half the night! It looks as if I've crawled into a den of rattlesnakes, which is pretty close to the truth. Sometimes I just head down a trail with my camera and hope to find something interesting. I got a bit more than I bargained for this time. The truth is I had my GoPro on the end of a four-foot selfie stick, so once you add the length of my arm, which was at full extension (believe me) I was probably 7 feet from certain death.
This is referred to as a "hibernaculum." It's a place where the snakes have congregated to survive the winter. In Latin, hibernaculum means "tent for winter quarters." It was a sunny spring day and the snakes were out warming up their cold-blooded bodies in the sunshine. As the temperatures warm in the upcoming weeks, the snakes spread out and are less dependent on the protection of the hibernaculum. It is a rarity to see so many in one place. Some of these western rattlers appear to be between 4 - 6 feet long, which would place them at or near record length for this particular species! Or maybe, like catching a big fish, I'm exaggerating a bit. I certainly wasn't going to hold a ruler next to one.