Baja birders face a land of snakes alive!



Baja California Rattlesnake

It’s that time of year to be reminded of some Baja birding safety.  Besides remembering to bring water and sunscreen along to see the birds we see,  when the weather turns warm we need to watch where we step more than usual.  Sometimes it’s hard to keep looking down when what you’re looking for is often in the air or up in a tree.  This rattlesnake means you no harm so don’t bug him unless you know what you are doing.  Most snake-bites occur when snakes are miss-handled so don’t fool with them unless you are experienced like me.  See a snake?  Just slowly back off/away.  That rock or log you’re stepping over may have a rattler under the edge of it on any side.  Be careful!

I saw this  Western Garter Snake at the lagoon.  This snake is harmless.  Scared the bejeebers out of one of the locals fishing there with a net and he and the snake took off in oposite directions.  If you don’t know what you are doing, leave and please don’t kill them.

A lot of people don’t care much for snakes.   My mom always said I must have been born under a rock because from the time I could blink I was catching snakes, lizards, insects and “well” you get the picture. Next is a photo of a Lyre Snake.  Named so because it has a musical instrument, a Lyre, printed on it’s head and also, I think, because it lies.  This snake kinda looks like a rattler and it shakes it’s tail when disturbed.  Like a rattler with no rattle.  Stay away from this snake unless you know your stuff. It is rear fanged and mildly poisonous but not to humans.  I say this with experience because I have handled many.  This snake almost never bites when handled.  It has groved teeth at the back of it’s mouth which makes it VERY hard to damage anything large, like a human leg.  The venom is in it’s spit and slowly kills a lizard but is not known to be a problem with mammals like a mouse, which they have to squeeze to death.  It is unfortunate but many local people think this snake is a rattler and kill it on sight.  Like some believe Owls are devils and steal babies from the crib.

Lyre Snake

We also have some very speedy snakes around.  I saw this guy slithering across the yard and I had to give chase.   Here in Baja we have light and dark phases of Coachwhip Snakes and I had to get a closer look.  These snakes are non-poisonous to people but they will bite viscously when annoyed and have very sharp teeth.  All he wanted to do was get away.

Baja California Coachwhip Snake (ivory phase)

And then there’s the Patch-nosed Snake.  Yes, this snake does have a little “patch” on the nose.  I think this is a handsome snake.

Patch-nosed Snake

Now, I know snakes aren’t for everyone.  A lot of that is because what we don’t know about causes mis-understandings and sometimes fear. So just remember to watch where you are stepping and give these critters a wide berth.  Be safe and Happy Birding!

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