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Shake, rattle, and roll: New Mexico rattlesnakes

Aug. 26th 2010

New Mexico is home to a number of animals that you wouldn’t want to get near, from stinging scorpions and tarantula hawks to the oddly peanut-scented New Mexico spadefoot toad. However, rattlesnakes still get the worst press.The rattlesnake will actually flee from humans if possible, unless it feels trapped or physically threatened. If you do happen upon one, simply back away. A threatened rattler can strike more than two-thirds of its total length away.In New Mexico, there are seven different types of rattlesnakes: the rock rattlesnake, western diamondback, western prairie rattlesnake, Mojave rattlesnake, black-tailed rattlesnake, Massasauga, and ridge-nose rattlesnake. Each of them have distinctive markings and live in different areas, but you can commonly recognize them by their triangular head, and a pit on either side of their heads. While you might think the rattle would be the simplest way to identify them, non-rattlers will often attempt to mimic the sound by shaking their tail on dry leaves or grass. Also, the rattle may not make noise if it’s absorbed too much water. Certain types of snakes will also attempt to flatten their heads to mimic the triangular shape.

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