I saw two snakes while riding earlier today. These snakes were perhaps 400 yards apart, on the eastern end of the new stretch of the Pemberton. The first snake I saw was a rattlesnake, probably a Western Diamondback. Another rider told me that the second snake is a bullsnake. Amy Burnett, the ranger at McDowell Mountain Park, told me that it’s a sub-species of bullsnake called a Sonoran Gopher Snake.
Both snakes were lying across the trail sunning themselves to get warm. I had trouble getting the rattler to move. I nudged it’s tail twice with my foot before it finally deigned to raise its head. Only after nudging its tail again with a stick did it decide to take a defensive posture. Even though I was walking all around it taking photos, it stayed in the middle of the trail where it could’ve gotten run over by a bike. It moved off into the grass only after I spewed a mouthful of water at it.
This is a crop (close-up) of the above photo:
This next photo shows a better view of the rattler’s tail. Unfortunately, the head is not quite in focus.
I came across the Sonoran gopher snake only a short while later, probably not even a quarter of a mile from the Western Diamondback. It, too, was lying across the trail, but became quite curious about my camera! It started slithering towards me as I was frantically taking photos of it. I eventually had to move out of its way!
It was perhaps two feet away for this shot. It looks closer because I cropped away the bottom part of the image.
An even tighter crop: