The American River bike trail along Lake Natoma is known for having a large number of snakes. I see more snakes in a week here than I saw in my entire life before moving here. It’s not uncommon to see as many as four snakes in a single ten mile commute in the evening. The most common ones are rattlesnakes, though gopher, king, and others are also frequently seen.
So, the other day I’m riding my bike to work in the morning, as is my usual habit, when I see another rider not too far ahead of me. Just as I’m starting to catch up to him I see him suddenly jump off of his bike, throw it to the ground, and start pacing around quickly. As I get closer I hear what he’s saying… “snake, snake, snake, snake…”. I roll up to where the snake is and see that it’s just a harmless gopher snake.
So, I get off of the bike and start to point out the various features to show him how to distinguish it from a venomous rattlesnake. As I point to the head region my finger is just a few inches away from its head and he suddenly starts going crazy!! I briefly considered picking it up, but decided that I didn’t want to risk even the slight discomfort and possible infection that their otherwise harmless bite could cause. Besides, that wouldn’t be very nice of me. 🙂