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#24 Santa Catalina Rattlesnake

Critically Endangered

These are considered rattlesnakes, but they don't have rattles. They do have dark bands on their tails that make it look almost as if they have a rattle. This colouring I painted is the most common, but a few rare ones are a pretty pale grey with darker grey markings. The Santa Catalina are less likely to coil and require more provoking to get them to strike than other rattlesnakes. It is a pit viper, those aren't 2 nostrils I've painted on one side of its face. The front dark spot is the nostril, the one between the nostril and the eye is a heat sensing "pit". They are not on Santa Catalina Island near Los Angeles, they are on an island called Isla Santa Catalina which is in the Gulf of California, Mexico. This snake is facing extinction because of illegal poaching and hunting by extra brave or possibly stupid feral cats.

I have a problem. I assume every animal out there will like me. Pretty much I'm always right, thankfully, but I really have a hard time being careful. I was out in Eastern Oregon so my husband could do a gravel bike ride with friends. I'm not a fan of bike riding because I have very poor balance.

This snake was being attacked by birds while I was out driving around taking pictures. I felt really bad for it so I stopped the car nearby and the birds flew away. It was really hot, so the snake decided the shade from my car was fantastic. Then, he got curious and climbed up into the undercarriage. I couldn't drive away because I'd have killed him. I tossed a bit of gravel at him which scared him out from under the car. I didn't hurt him, not even sure I hit him, but still it made me feel bad, so I gave him a few pets and apologized. The thing is, as far as I knew, he was a rattlesnake. I couldn't handle the thought I had scared a snake of any sort. Even though nobody knew where I was (I barely did), there was no phone service, and the nearest hospital was a 4 hour drive from where I was, I absolutely was going to make sure that the snake was ok. Thankfully, it was a gopher snake. They imitate rattlesnakes, coiling up as if they will strike (he even shook his tail at the birds), but they are very patient snakes. I got it off into the grasses near the road and under a shrub and it seemed perfectly happy.

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