Montana Outdoors

July 26, 2009

Probably not everyone will agree…

Filed under: Animals, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures — Tags: , — montucky @ 10:09 pm

but this is one drop-dead gorgeous Prairie Rattlesnake! Certainly the prettiest I’ve ever seen.

Western Rattlesnake

Prairie Rattlesnake
Crotalus viridis

For perspective, this photo was taken at a distance of about 20 inches with a 60mm (macro) lens and cropped only slightly to center it. It is a large snake (40+inches) and very thick. Very well behaved and easily persuaded to pose for a few photos; alert but not aggressive.

**Correction** I originally thought this was a Western Rattlesnake but in a comment on my Flickr site, a gentleman (Correcamino) corrected me. Upon visiting his Flickr site and reading his profile it was clear that he knows what he’s talking about and I appreciate the correction.

(While I’m editing and correcting anyway, I thought I’d add another photo to show a close-up of the intense look on its face.)

Prairie Rattlesnake


  1. He’s smiling for you!!! I’m not sure I could hang around to take pictures.


    Comment by edvatza — July 27, 2009 @ 2:58 am

  2. Where did you find this?!? Please tell me not anywhere around here. Please please.

    It is beautiful. But I do not ever want to see it in person.


    Comment by Patia — July 27, 2009 @ 4:02 am

    • It was about 2 miles off Hwy 200 up Weeksville, Patia. I haven’t run into one for several years and this is a good reminder that they are around and we should always be reasonable careful.


      Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 10:04 am

      • In all my years here, I’ve never seen one. I didn’t really think we had them.


        Comment by Patia — July 27, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

        • They used to be quite common in my area here, but I haven’t seen one in several years. Something we always watch for on wildfires in the lower elevations though.


          Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

  3. Whoa! That rattlesnake posed for you. What a beautiful capture and a beautiful snake! I would love a chance to photograph a rattler but yet to see one. I wear thick hiking boots when out in the wilds and keep a careful eye out for snakes (spiders too). I definitely would be still if I saw one and gently lift my camera to my eye for a capture. 🙂 I happen to like snakes.


    Comment by Anna Surface — July 27, 2009 @ 7:41 am

    • It took a little persuading to get it to coil so nicely in an open place. I like snakes too and was so pleased to be able to get some photos of this one, which is a beautiful specimen.


      Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 10:06 am

      • Seeing your edit with the 2nd photo of the closeup, I had to comment. That snake has a gorgeous face. It does have an intense look. I wonder how old it is because it appears to be a wise snake. I hope it stays safe.


        Comment by Anna Surface — July 27, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

        • It is wise. It sensed that I represented no harm and although it buzzed, it settled right down again. I hope it stays safe too and it will be just fine if it avoids the road that runs through there.


          Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

  4. 20 inches! Not me, that’s what a zoom lens is for! 🙂 Great shot but you had to use the term “drop dead” didn’t you? LOL


    Comment by Scott Thomas Photography — July 27, 2009 @ 7:47 am

    • As I’m sure you know, Scott, one of the laws of photography is that if you have more than one lens with you, the wrong one will be on the camera and you usually don’t have time to change. The macro lens rather limited my options, but I was happy with the results.


      Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 10:08 am

      • I like the second on you added. Makes for a more interesting photo of the snake.

        Well, the best lens is the one on the camera and you made the best of it!


        Comment by Scott Thomas Photography — July 27, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

        • I’m fascinated by the intensity of that look! Yes, I guess whatever works, works.


          Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 4:43 pm

  5. Twenty inches away from a 40 inch rattler that can strike from 1/3 to 1/2 of it’s length…. Crikey! Really though, this beautiful snake didn’t look perturbed at all just curious. Did he surprise you or was it vice versa?


    Comment by Maureen — July 27, 2009 @ 8:55 am

    • Heck, Maureen, I had a few inches to spare! This guy was pretty cool. As I leaned in to get the right shot, if I got just a tiny bit too close, he would buzz, then settle back down again as I slowly moved back. We finally agreed on the distance that was comfortable for both of us and I was able to get 6 fairly decent shots. Both of us were mildly surprised.


      Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  6. I think the snake was teasing you. A few more inches closer and someone would have a great shot of a photographer in the belly of a snake.

    You fall in the same category as Anna, living dangerous for the sake of a good shot which this is. Heck, Anna would have wanted to pet the thing.


    Comment by Preston Surface — July 27, 2009 @ 9:36 am

    • I know what you mean, Preston. During all of the years I spent prowling the Arizona desert I got very used to rattlesnakes, and so understand how they think and react, so there isn’t any danger if I don’t surprise one. I seem to get along very well with them, but I don’t handle them. I don’t have a good reason to do that and can think of several very good reasons not to.


      Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 10:16 am

      • LOL No, I wouldn’t pet or handle a rattlesnake. I grew up in Texas around rattlesnakes and I had a healthy respect for them. Usually, when out in the wilds, I just have a thing with creatures and they do not mind me. I, too, get along well with wildlife yet I do not handle them. Well… baby lizards… smile…


        Comment by Anna Surface — July 27, 2009 @ 7:15 pm

        • I have a strong feeling that wild critters have a sense that tells them when you present a danger and when you don’t.


          Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 7:59 pm

  7. Looks cute and cuddly to me!


    Comment by knightofswords — July 27, 2009 @ 11:20 am

    • Probably won’t catch on as pets, but sure pretty though.


      Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

      • When I posted a link on my facebook page to your photo, Elizabeth Grace commented that your definition of “gorgeous” isn’t the same as everyone else’s. 🙂



        Comment by knightofswords — July 28, 2009 @ 8:41 am

  8. WOW. I think you must be crazy. But then again, it’s all about what you are used to. I’ve been known to chase a grizzly for a picture, but I’d run the other way if my heart didn’t stop first if I ever saw a rattler! I like my wildlife BIG and visible! (must be my Alaskan blood!)


    Comment by Lillie — July 27, 2009 @ 3:53 pm

    • You’re right, Lillie, it’s what you are used to (and know something about). I’m quite comfortable with the snakes but not so much with the Grizzlies.


      Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

  9. I almost forgot – very cool picture!


    Comment by Lillie — July 27, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  10. He’s a simply gorgeous hunk of snake.
    So glad to hear he enjoyed (!) posing for these great shots.


    Comment by Bo — July 27, 2009 @ 5:34 pm

    • He really didn’t seem to mind and showed a great deal of patience. He has obviously done very well so far in his life and I sure wish him well. He just has to stay away from people though: he was lucky this time.


      Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

  11. Oooh: playing with fire…or snakes anyway. Lovely markings.


    Comment by scienceguy288 — July 27, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

    • They are well decorated, aren’t they! This guy stopped in the open, but in grass and leaves that camo is excellent.


      Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 9:22 pm

  12. He may have been acting nicely for you, but that up close shot tells me he’s thinking about being not so cool. Yes, Intense is one way of putting it.

    He is rather colorful, isn’t he? Nice shot and great close up.


    Comment by Iona — July 27, 2009 @ 10:39 pm

    • When I took that shot I was pushing his limit just a bit. He never lost his concentration. Yes, he’s one of the most colorful ones I’ve seen. At first glance he reminded me of the Mohave rattler in the southwest.


      Comment by montucky — July 27, 2009 @ 11:41 pm

  13. He was cool but were you sweating it?


    Comment by rvewong — July 28, 2009 @ 9:19 am

    • No rvewong. I’ve been around lots of rattlers and I’ve found them to be very consistent and predictable as long as you know their concerns and limitations. I enjoy encounters with them for those reasons.


      Comment by montucky — July 28, 2009 @ 8:52 pm

  14. You are hell of a lot braver than I am Terry, incredible shot buddy, that’s one I will never get !!


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — July 28, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

    • Not brave, Bernie, just familiar with the subject. I felt very fortunate to have that chance at a photo. Chances like that don’t come often, and he was such a remarkable specimen.


      Comment by montucky — July 28, 2009 @ 8:55 pm

  15. Hmmm, yes, I guess he’s a handsome snake. I’ve never seen one in the wild, thank God, I don’t want to. Just the zoo.

    How long did you live in AZ?


    Comment by Candace — July 29, 2009 @ 10:36 am

    • They are plentiful in the Arizona desert, or at least they were. It’s good to be aware of them and know something about them though, even if you don’t care to get too close.

      We lived there for about 25 years, in Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler and Queen Creek. (We moved further and further out as the areas we lived in became more developed and crowded.)


      Comment by montucky — July 29, 2009 @ 6:15 pm

  16. Beautiful! My goodness, how brave you are! I’d take the photos, but I’d keep my distance. Probably my photos would not have been nearly as nice as yours either, LOL.


    Comment by Tabbie — July 30, 2009 @ 9:17 pm

    • Not really brave, Tabbie. I know rattlers very well and I knew his striking distance as well as he did. I had to chuckle because each time when I got close to that spot he would buzz and stick his tongue out to catch my scent.

      It’s so good to see you out and about again! It made my day to see your posts yesterday!


      Comment by montucky — July 30, 2009 @ 10:10 pm

  17. ooooohhhh. I took a brief glance at the shots. just couldn’t bear to really look at it! I cannot believe you got those shots! really really amazing!


    Comment by silken — August 2, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

    • It’s not the snakes in Nature that threaten our existence, Silken.


      Comment by montucky — August 2, 2009 @ 8:16 pm

  18. Great shots! I have a VERY healty respect (aka irrational phobia) for snakes, so I prefer the 400mm view to a macros (sheesh). I do find that pausing to observe snakes helps, but am always watching for Rattlers in the brush to make sure we don’t have an unhealth surprise greeting between us.


    Comment by DaveABirding — August 13, 2009 @ 11:34 am

    • I also have a healthy respect for them, Dave and am always careful around them: therefore I am able to enjoy them for what they are.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!


      Comment by montucky — August 13, 2009 @ 10:25 pm

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