February 27, 2024  •  3 Comments


It is that time of the year here in New Mexico when rattlesnakes will start to wake up from their winter sleep.  Once temperatures consistently reach 60 F (or 15 C), these cold-blooded snakes will become active once again.

Now that the birds have started leaving the Rio Grande valley near my home; think thousands of snow geese and sandhill cranes who spend winters here; temperatures are rising and it is time to start paying extra attention around the house for snakes.

Rattlesnakes do not technically "hibernate".  If the temperatures were warm enough year-round, like in let's say southern Florida, the snake wouldn't go to sleep at all in winter.  Here in New Mexico where it consistently freezes at night from November into March, snakes go into a state called "brumation."
During brumation, the snake is asleep but not the entire time: they do wake up from time to time, perhaps to feed or to soak up some sun on a warm winter's day.

Short video of my encounter

The snake encounter pictured here happened last March, shortly after we moved into the area.  Plenty of rodents inhabit the New Mexico desert along the Rio Grande river, so that means lots of holes to explore for my dog.  On this occasion, our dog stuck its nose into a fist-sized hole and pulled out this adult rattler!

The dog dropped the snake, backed away, the snake coiled and started rattling.  An eerie sound and an adequate warning to keep your distance!
I got the camera - with a big lens to stay well away - and got some shots before the rattler retreated - unharmed - into a hole.

Lesson learned: do not let your dog explore all the small holes, or, get the dog some rattlesnake aversion training.  In the event that a bite happens, know where the nearest vet is located.

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Jorn Vangoidtsenhoven Wildlife and Nature Photography
Thanks Brian!
Great video Jorn, The images are great also. I like the striking pose of the snake and the low angle. Very sharp and natural looking. Thanks for the great images.
Jorn Vangoidtsenhoven Wildlife and Nature Photography
Hi Annette,

I'll be adding some of these images tomorrow to the Etsy store. Do you have any specific image(s) in mind so I can make sure to add it?


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