Silent Rattlesnake at Eaton Canyon (Video)

A Patch reader posted the following rattlesnake encounter at Eaton Canyon on YouTube

Patch reader Brent Morgan has three times, in three separate locations, spotted a black rattlesnake at night while walking his dogs.  And the spooky thing, Morgan wrote in an email to Patch, is that none of the snakes has not given the usual rattle shaking warning in any of the three encounters.

Morgan posted the above video to YouTube of his encounter with the snake at Eaton Canyon and described it as a "rumored hybrid species, most likely Pacific and Mojave" with a neurotoxic venorm. 

A 2009 article in Scientific American discusses the Southern Pacific rattlesnake and the neurological symptoms their bites induce.  The article notes that there seems to have been an increase in recent years of bites from that rattlesnake relative to other rattlesnake types in Southern California and also suggests the possibility that the snakes' venom could be the result of interbreeding with Mojave green rattlesnakes.

The Southern Pacific rattlers also are known to have dark coloring as this page in the Aquarium of the Pacific website attests.

Marrinan September 18, 2012 at 03:28 PM
someone tie a bell on that thing!
p ungaro September 18, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Great footage of a very dangerous critter. I think we can assume that this was cell phone footage therefore taken at close range. Way too close for comfort. Keep in mind that Rattlers don't always rattle before they strike (yes they always do in the movies, but this is real life). Being this near a snake of this size and not leaving the area is just plain stupid if you are not trained to handle them and are without the proper equipment (ie: bite proof knee high boots, long staff w/hook). . Rattlesnake venom is both Hemotoxic and Neurotoxic Venom. Rattlesnake venom is a complex substance consisting of combinatons of toxic proteins known as hemotoxins and neurotoxins. The composition of venom can vary from species to species. Some rattlesnake species produce primarily hemotoxic venom which acts to break down cells and tissues while others have predominantly neurotoxic venom that causes respiratory paralysis, numbness and circulatory problems. The composition of venom can change. Studies suggest that some hemotoxic species have begun to produce neurotoxic venom, with serious implications for snakebite treatment. Read more: Rattlesnake Venom Facts | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/info_8583831_rattlesnake-venom.html#ixzz26pw2xZKLRattle
Brent Morgan September 18, 2012 at 05:31 PM
P ungaro, thanks for that additional information! This was taken with my cell phone, but I'm not quite as close as it appears in the video. I am by no means a snake expert, but have spent much time with many different species of snakes throughout my life and can had to cross it's path to get by. Figured I might as well record it so I can better spread awareness of the dangers in our own backyards. I also wanted to get the snake off the main trail because I heard other people coming and didn't want any of them to run into it. One of the upcoming hikers who told me he actually accidentally steeped on one of these snakes last week and it still didn't rattle or strike. I have encountered well over a dozen wild rattlesnakes before but these three darker snakes are the only ones that have not rattled. It is very true that not all rattlesnakes give warning, but since the ones that do rattle often get killed, by either humans or other animals, it is likely that we are leaving the stealth snakes to thrive... essentially survival of the fittest. I just wanted to share my encounter to make sure everyone is fully aware of the dangers that surround us.
p ungaro September 18, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Maybe Survival of the quietest? I am happy to know that you do in fact know what to do around snakes. I was just concerned others may not act with enough caution. A friend of mine was recently in Big Bear walking his dog. After they passed a shrub he heard a flop sound behind him, he turned just in time to see a silent rattler just missing the attempted strike on the dog.
Corinr Hdparmon September 18, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Instead of the condescension and smart-assery p ungaro, try to appreciate the fact that this encounter, admittedly a dangerous one, is helping to raise awareness and is a great step towards unfolding the mystery of this new species. Simply copying and pasting an excerpt from eHow doesn't quite cut it. PS Great article Dan! Hopefully we can learn more about this silent snake so we know how to protect and heal ourselves if it ever does show aggression.
Karen Mateer September 18, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Interesting video and a good reminder that one needs to be aware while hiking in the park. Please note this is one more good reason to follow the park rules and not be on the trail after sunset as a dark "stealth" snake would be hard to see in fading light. Karen Mateer, President Eaton Canyon Nature Center Associates
p ungaro September 18, 2012 at 10:18 PM
"condescension and smart-assery" was not my intent. As for "Simply copying and pasting an excerpt" I was just quoting my source.
Shield September 22, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Nowhere near a snake expert either, but I was around numerous reptiles including rattlesnakes in my 8th grade science class, with one of my favorite teachers, Mr. O'Donnell. This was in 1967 and I doubt a teacher today could do things like he did, such as take field trips with students to capture and milk venom from the rattlers. I'm wondering if the snake didn't feel threatened is why he didn't rattle.


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