|Prairie Rattlesnake. Photo by Steve Thompson|
They live in very hot climate, in summer, then hide in rocky dens in winter. They are very poisonous and a bite is usually fatal as they are of the "American Viper" family. Rattlesnakes are pit vipers, however the prairie rattler bites are not usually fatal. See a veterinarian's page here. They grow to about 3 1/2 feet long, a mixture of green, grey and yellow, in a diamond pattern (In Medicine Hat area we had a lot of Diamondback rattlers.See correction below.) Each year they grew a series of horny rings at the end of their tail, that made a rattling sound when the snake shook.
They loved to get into barns, chicken runs and fence posts. They shed their skin in August, a very bad time to meet up with a rattler. Once, on my way to church camp, suitcase in hand, to meet at a school with other 17 year-olds, I stopped at the lane crossing to let a truck pass. In that moment a rattlesnake raced over both my feet and out of sight. Phew! It sure scared me and I knew I was so lucky. I think the noise of the truck made it hurry.
The Bull-snake, a bigger one, 7 or 8 feet long and two inches across, is the big enemy of the rattlesnake. They kill them and I've heard that they eat them (how true is this?) Bull snakes are friendly and don't mind being picked up and are very heavy. I wasn't brave enough to pick one up, but Ron and Bunny Warren did and I took a picture. Sadly this photo is missing. Here's another photo of a bullsnake.
|"Pituophis catenifer sayi 007" by Psyon - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pituophis_catenifer_sayi_007.jpg#/media/File:Pituophis_catenifer_sayi_007.jpg|
Diamondback rattlers do not live in Medicine Hat, or indeed, anywhere in Canada. The rattlesnakes Letty knew about and encountered are Prairie Rattlesnakes. You can read here about prairie rattlesnakes and bullsnakes in Alberta, Canada.