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just a few more weeks...

just a few more weeks...
Photo Information
Copyright: Chris Harrison (chrish) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 49 W: 9 N: 95] (372)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2002-07
Categories: Reptiles
Camera: Minolta Maxxum 600si, Sigma 24mm macro, Kodak Ektachrome 100
Exposure: f/16
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Snakes - Serpientes - Serpents [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2005-11-01 23:46
Viewed: 5085
Points: 13
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I took this photo, not to have a great photo of this species, but rather to convey a message about our relationship with them. It is technically imperfect, but I think it tells the story I wanted to tell -

This is a gravid (pregnant) female Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox). This is a very common widespread snake across the southwestern and south central US.

This particular female has crawled out onto this quiet west-central Texas dirt road to bask in the morning heat to help her developing babies complete their embryological journey. In another month she will give birth to 10-20 little baby Western Diamondbacks who will then have to face the dangers of this road on their own. When I stopped and approached her with my camera she made no aggressive moves and didn't even rattle. She just laid very still and hoped I would leave her alone. She was lucky it was a snake lover who drove up, not some idiot with a shotgun!

Roads represent a real danger to these magnificent icons of the American west. They like the flat open areas because they make good warm basking surfaces, especially for gravid females. Unfortunately, they aren't fast, especially when in a "delicate" condition such as this. She simply has no choice of escaping when a farm truck or redneck tourist comes along and tries to run her over out of fear and ignorance. She is just trying to give her babies the best start she can.

I'm sure some of you reading this will look at this picture and say "Well, if I had seen this, I would have run her over!".
To you I ask, "What if it had been a pregnant rabbit or dog warming up on the road? Would they have had more right to try and live?"

She was living at least 20 miles from the nearest town and probably 2 miles from the nearest ranch house. She posed no threat to people or livestock (livestock aren't as stupid as we think!). And livestock in this area of west central Texas see these creatures every week.

I took her picture and gently convinced her to move off onto a rocky flat area off the road where she could continue her basking in safety.

Dave, krampf, moemf, Rusty, meyerd, jmirah has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Nice composure and very good information. I like the POV. I frequently stop to encourage the local reptiles to move off the roads, but snakes are easier than snapping turtles.

  • Great 
  • Dave Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 503 W: 43 N: 657] (2178)
  • [2005-11-02 4:02]

Very good and educational note Chris. I also think the picture is very good for what you are trying to accomplish. Well seen!

I remember when I was very young my dad catching and introducing me to a small grass snake in a positive manner. My dad taking the time to do this helped stifle the seemingly natural aversion in me that most people have toward snakes.

My biology professor told his students about a research project he did where he got a couple of students and a cooler full of cold drinks and they set up hiding in the bushes near a road to document the response of drivers toward animals found on the road.

They would put rubber turtles, frogs, and snakes out in the road and record peoples reactions. Of course the demonized snake encountered the worst abuse. He said one driver ran over the snake, stopped, and backed up to run over it again seven times. He said another driver planted his rear wheel on the rubber snake and spun out spraying tire and rubber snake all over the place. People were most aggressive toward the snakes.

Your picture with the note will hopefully educate and change a few hearts.

Thanks for sharing!


  • Great 
  • moemf Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 105 W: 0 N: 160] (703)
  • [2005-11-02 8:06]

Gutsy to get this close. :) Lovely shot of a marvelous creature. It tells an important story. Thanks for the great note. This is the point of TN I think most of us tend to forget - learning about nature through photography. Again thanks for the note.

nice shot, very good composition.

The user Galba recommended to me to watch your photos, and I am really very good, this likes specially.
A beautiful image, excellent composition. Congratulations for your work and thanks to share it with all we.
We waited for more photos yours like this.

  • Great 
  • Rusty (67)
  • [2006-09-06 0:19]

Great shot and great perspective. I wouldn't have run it over, I just wouldn't have stepped out of my car in the first place! TFS!

Dear Chris,
a great Chris revealed! This is the kind of picture and note I appreciate very much; that's what TN is all about: Nature, with a capital N!

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