Once again this week, I had the opportunity to volunteer for the Bureau of Land Management. The last time we were repairing cattle fences and found a whole bunch of poop. This time around was a bit more lively. There’s a snake that’s not endangered, but may find itself on the list soon. Our mission: Find them. Find one. Find any sign of one. You get the point.
This is what they look like, stole the pic off GIS.
The snakes we were after live in and under rotten and fallen trees. I was given a quick lesson on the snakes and a slightly longer lesson on what to do if I came across the scarier rattle snake. Then we took off. All day I was crawling on the riverbank tearing apart logs and trying to figure out what poisen ivy really looks like. The location we were surveying is in the Yakima River Canyon, and it’s crazy beautiful.
Near the river, it is lush and wet. There’s brush and thriving vegetation and this is where we expected to find the little guys. I wasn’t seeing any snakes, but I did find the craziest centipede I ever saw.
We traveled a little ways away from the river, where is was dryer and there were less fallen trees. Here, we rolled rocks over looking at this point for ANY reptiles at all. Once again, I found something pretty spectacular, but it was not a snake.
What you are looking at is a scorpion. I found two. In total, the survey group found four. Scorpions dance too. Luckily they danced after I moved my hands away from the reach of their stingers.
We were having zero luck finding snakes, so we moved even higher up the canyon into the dry, desert like ground. There are cacti everywhere and perfect spots for the lovely rattle snakes to bask in the sun. After only a few minutes one woman found a rattler, sitting peacefully. Myself and the other snake searcher headed over to take a look at the snake.
Being as I am timid of anything that contains venom, I unwisely decided to take a long loop around to the nest and in the process stepped right over a bull snake. They look similar to the rattler, but are harmless. That got my blood pumping and I was on high alert. I gingerly climbed up further, still taking the round about way in order to not walk face into the rattle snakes nest. Ten feet before reaching the nest I placed my foot directly into another rattler’s nest and pissed him off royally. He shook his tail at me with that familiar sound I had heard a million times before, but only on television. I found a taller rock and stood on top yelping like a little girl.
“STAND STILL!!” was yelled my way a few times and I calmed down and watched the dangerous critter disappear. After it was out of sight, I changed my course and followed the biologist’s path to the first found snake so I could get a look.
It was amazing. I was standing, looking at a rattle snake. He was calm and happy all snuggled up with himself.
Pretty soon after that we changed locations and kept on looking for the elusive sharp tailed species. Never found one. Apparently the last time one was seen in the area was over thirty years ago. Even where there’s plenty sharp tails, they are difficult to find because they do not come out in the open, instead, spend their time in the ground and in fallen tress.
So, I suck at finding sharp tailed snakes, but I’m awesome at locating wildlife with deadly venom. I’m strangely proud of this.