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November 1933Volume 8, Number 8

RATTLESNAKES ON THE CANYON RIM By Donald Edward McHenry, Junior Naturalist.

MUCH interest has been shown by park visitors over the possible presence of rattlesnakes on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Every once in a while, some panic-stricken person reports having killed such a snake. Such persons frequently describe just how the "rattlesnake" rattled when they approached him unexpectedly. These people appear disappointed when they learn that their "rattler" is none other than the harmless and decidedly beneficial Bull or Utah Gopher Snake (Pituophis cantenifer rutilus, Van Denburgh) a snake frequently found on this rim, and that the rattling which they heard was nothing but the hissing of this snake which, in their excitement, they mistook for evidence of real danger.

All reports of rattlesnakes on the North Rim cannot be relegated to this mistaken identity. On September 26, 1933, Ranger Ed. Laws and a companion were traveling in the vicinity of Swamp Point through country covered by clumps of Gambel Oaks and Western Yellow Pines. Passing through one of these groves of oaks they spied a three foot Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus c. confluentus) upon which Ranger Laws was about to step. They were able to catch the specimen alive and bring it in for mounting.

The only other records of the Prairie Rattlesnake found on the North Rim are an individual caught near the head of the Kaibab Trail during the summer of 1928, one found near Powell's Saddle in the summer of 1931 and one reported at Jacobs Lake some years ago.

As if to balance this most recent record from the North Rim, Ranger Naturalist Paul Kraus brought a juvenile specimen of the Prairie Rattlesnake from the vicinity of Havasupai Point on the South Rim. These recent records should not lead our readers to conclude that rattlesnakes are becoming more numerous on the rims of the Grand Canyon.

The Hopi Cloud Serpent

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