Crotalus molossus — Western Black-tailed Rattlesnake
This, my first wild Crotalus molossus, was found by Chicago Herpetological Society members Mike Dloogatch, Ralph Shepstone, and Greg Brim. If I remember correctly, Mike got the credit for spotting it as it crossed the road that they were driving up. At the time, I was several miles higher up that same road with Roger Repp, Linda Malawy, and Michael Malawy, waiting for the CHS folks to catch up. But our plans changed when they called Linda and informed her of their discovery. I joined the Malawys by hopping into Michael's truck, and we wasted no time bouncing back down the hill. Mike, Ralph, and Greg had finagled the snake over into the safety of a small plant at the side of the road. After we arrived, Michael persuaded the beautiful snake to adopt the more photogenic pose shown in the second picture.
I came across this snake at night as it crossed the road. I got out of the car and followed it for awhile as it climbed a slope before settling in to give me dirty looks.
Roger Repp, Jeff Smith, Melissa Amarello, and I were driving down dirt roads in search of nocturnal snakes. It was not a good night for snakes, being far too dry, and we had seen none of 'em until Jeff thought he heard a suspiciously rattle-y sound. By the time he got Roger to stop driving and us all to shut up, all was silent outside. Roger backed up a hundred feet or so and there was that suspiciously rattle-y sound again. We all hopped out and Jeff shined his flashlight on this hulk lurking beneath a roadside bush, which had been attracting us with its annoyed rattling though it was no doubt trying to repel us.
A sight that every snake-lover wants to see (and most everyone else does not want to see): a beautiful adult black-tailed rattlesnake stretched out across the road.
- Bartlett, R. D., Tennant, A. 2000. Snakes of North America, Western Region
- Brennan, T. C. and Holycross, A. T. 2006. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona
- Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2017. Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, Eighth Edition
- Ernst, C. H., Ernst, E. M. 2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada
- Stebbins, R. C. 2003. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition