I don’t know what it is about late summer in the Sandia foothills, but it’s when I’m most likely to see rattlesnakes. It’s not just snakes in general — I see other snakes throughout the spring and summer (garter snakes especially in the spring) — it’s specifically rattlesnakes, and it’s almost always late in the afternoon or even right after sunset. Last year I came within 4 inches of stepping on a baby diamondback just as it was getting dark. I veered away at the very last second.
So I do avoid walking in the foothills in the afternoons around this time of year, and walk in the mornings before work instead. But this morning I was off work, and walked a bit later — and ran into this critter around 9 am. The other thing is, I had never ever seen any kind of rattlesnake other than a diamondback in the Sandias before today. I knew prairie rattlers were in the Sandias, but had no idea black-tailed rattlesnakes even existed, let alone existed in the Sandias. I would’ve walked right up to it if it hadn’t rattled at me when I was about 8 feet away. I was grateful for the warning.
Not only that, the rattler was the second snake I saw this morning. I damn near stepped on this bull snake as I was heading up a hill from the parking lot. I was maybe 18 inches from its head. I backed up really fast. They aren’t poisonous but I hear it’s no fun to get bitten by one of these either.
PS — It’s been an interesting few weeks in the Sandias, what with the poisonous monkshood, the tarantula hawk wasp, and now the snakes. Mother Nature hasn’t seemed quite as benevolent as she usually does.