Photo: a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) next to a chicken food bowl in our chicken yard.
It’s still spring with calendar summer almost two months away, but here on the farm, 2019 has already seen its third rattlesnake, a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox). The first rattlesnake was found March 27th, a month earlier than ever before. Here’s a link to a blog about that event.
That first snake and another, also C. atrox, were found in our yard and both were relocated to our east pasture where there is an ample supply of mice and wood rats for them to eat.
The third snake, another C. atrox, was unexpectedly discovered in the early morning of April 23rd when I was feeding our chickens. We keep our chickens in a large chicken yard (what else would you call it?) adjacent to our yard, sharing our yard’s south fence line. This snake was also a candidate for relocation since it was too close to where our grandchildren play on a trampoline. But before capturing it, I wanted photos; so, I trekked out to the greenhouses to get Susie and her smart phone. Susie was in greenhouse #1, just beginning to work some cichlids while I fed our terrestrial animals: horses, donkeys, and chickens.
The snake cooperated and remained in its position, posing for photos Susie took. That was a bit remarkable because the food bowl in photo had first been removed. I’d only noticed the snake after I picked up the bowl, fortunately on the side away from the snake. I had placed the food bowl a few feet away on the ground from the snake while I got Susie. Wanting to show the snake in relation to the bowl, before Susie took photos, I replaced the bowl adjacent to the snake. The snake took no notice and Susie took photos.
After making sure she had a good photo, Susie returned to the cichlids and I went to the house to retrieve the snake stick so the snake could be captured and relocated. Unfortunately, by the time I returned the snake had left. Now I’ll have to be extra careful when collecting eggs and feeding the chickens.
Looking at the photo, you can see how well camouflaged the snake was against the ground. I suspect it was ambushing mice coming to poach some of the chicken feed, which consisted of oats, chopped corn, milo (maize or sorghum), and black sunflower seeds.
We often see rattlesnakes, but most often during the peak of summer, which in south Texas is May through September. We’ve also seen our first copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix laticinctus) already, drinking from our backyard dog water trough. From mid-May to mid-July we see many copperheads in the yard. To find out why, check out these blogs:
Judging from the early poisonous snake sightings, we’re in for a long summer.