The Many Rattlers of Tucson

The rattlesnake is an icon of the American desert southwest. Even though these pit vipers are found everywhere from Canada to Argentina. Of course, the highest number of species are found in the southwest, so it does some claim to the title of Rattlesnake Country. And my hometown of Tucson is the epicenter of rattlers. Of course, they may not always be what you think. Keep reading to learn more about the wonderful rattlers of Tucson!

Fear No Rattler 

Rattlers have a fearsome reputation, portrayed in movies and TV shows as going out of their way to attack any human in the vicinity. This behavior often results in the offending snake being shot with a single bullet from the gunslinger. So sad, since rattlers are an important component in their ecosystem!

Unfortunately, many people needlessly fear and overreact when interacting or even thinking about interacting with a rattler. It’s wonderful that a rattler warns a person about its presence. Not many venomous snakes provide this kindly service. They don’t eagerly attack people, they just want to be left alone. Hence the warning rattle. If you’d like to learn more about rattlesnakes, I recommend Don’t Make Me Rattle! You’ll be delighted with the incredible amount of information about rattlesnakes included within the covers. But even better, you’ll discover the value of these seemingly scary reptiles.

The Talk of the Town

Rattlesnakes are often found in the Tucson area. Consequently, rattlesnake-themed items are found everywhere. One of my favorites is the Rattlesnake Bridge. This is a pedestrian bridgeway over Broadway Blvd. Yes, you read that correctly, Tucson has a rattlesnake bridge! Complete with a head with fangs and a tail with rattles. People and bicyclists travel above the busy road in the belly of the beast. The artist Simon Donovan was recognized by the Federal Highway Administration for his artistic, but useful, creation.

Another local artist, Joe Pagac created a wonderful mural that featured a roadrunner and rattlesnake, usually mortal enemies. Many local styles of art include rattlesnakes. They make interesting subjects, with those impressive rattles at the end of their tails. Here are a couple of sculptures I own. Notice that a chain was recycled effectively.

Two images of metal snake sculptures in Elaine's backyard.

From Art to Life 

Of course, I enjoy the live rattlers that live in my yard. After the landscapers had removed a small Western Diamondback rattlesnake from my yard, a gravid female moved in. She was remarkable in that she didn’t rattle at me. Even as I held a reference photograph next to her to confirm that she was a rattlesnake. She matched the color of my driveway perfectly. This mother-to-be found a way into my garage where she gave birth. I didn’t mind, except that they all hung out right by the door I used to get to my car. If they had moved three feet down the wall, we could have lived in harmony. But being rattled at every time I needed to access my car was a little annoying. When they left for the summer, I sealed all the holes. They had to find another hibernaculum. I did feel a bit bad, but my yard has lots of ground squirrels holes, so I knew they’d find someplace nice to live. One of the babies, Baby Rattles, is still hanging around my backyard. I think she enjoys climbing into the palm tree, looking for bird eggs.

Here she is a few months ago. She is one good-looking rattlesnake!

A young diamond back rattlesnake slithering on a terracotta colored cement floor.

Rattlesnakes are important to environmental health and human health as well. Want to know more? Read the book! Learn about rattlers so you can respect them and not fear them. Let them inspire your creativity as they have inspired the artists in this blog. And remember, the only good rattlesnake is a live rattlesnake.

CURTIS CURLY-TAIL COMES ALIVE ON YOU TUBE!a curly tail lizard on a bahamian beach with blue sky and ocean, sand and green plants
Elaine A Powers Author Conservationalist Biologist
Click Image to Hear “Don’t Call Me Turtle!”image of woman reading book at tucson botanical gardens
Don’t Miss a Thing at Lyric Power Publishing!

To learn about our latest science-based children’s books and workbooks, to read our latest blog posts about reptiles, birds, cats, and gardening, in a variety of locations, and about how the books come to be, what inspires an author to write, and many more interesting aspects of the publishing business, fill in the box below and we will add you to our email list.
Thank you!