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Kansas Rattlesnakes

Then I had my first introduction to rattlesnakes. I was sitting in the door, and the children were playing just outside when I heard that horrible rattle. I did not have to be told what it was. I grabbed the children into the house and put them up on the bed, and took hold of a board, as it was all I could get hold of. By the time I had done that it was inside the house and running across the floor. I kept striking at it and missing it for quite a while; I felt I must kill it or some of us would be bitten. At last I killed it, although I nearly killed myself. Then I told the children that I would never live in a place where the rattlesnakes came into the house, that we would get to the timber where their father was and tell him so. Well, we had not gone a hundred yards when we saw another one, stretched out sunning itself, so we passed by on the other side, but we had not crossed the field until we say the third one, all of them large. The one we killed had seven rattles; that is as large as they generally are on the prairies. Although that was our first sight of a rattlesnake, it was not our last. For a number of years, they were plentiful. They were round about us, sometimes under our feet, sometimes gathered up in a bundle of something we were handling, sometimes in our houses. The strangest part of it was that none of us were ever bitten.

Nancy “Mary Ann” Davis Wisner’s Recollections of Pioneer Life

I’m telling you up front there is no way on God’s green Earth I’m getting close enough to a rattlesnake to snap pictures. Not even through a glass window.

So for sanity’s sake, y’all can go here Great Plains Nature Preserve.

Kansas is home to three different species of rattlesnakes. One is found in the eastern half of the state. One is found in the eastern and central part of Kansas, and the last one is found only in the western part.

If you choose to use a rattlesnake in your book, then you need to be sure what part of the state your story is set.

Since my story is set in the eastern part of Kansas we’ll look at the Timber Rattlesnake first and then the Massasaugas (what a name). And wouldn’t you know that the Timber, the largest of the rattlers, would be found in my neck of the woods.  *shivers*

This one’s coloring is kind of a dull gray, but you can see the chevron markings.

This next one is vivid and you can clearly see the stripe down the center of its body. As far as rattlesnakes go, its kind of beautiful (never thought I’d say that)!

According to the Great Plains Nature Preserve, this baby is in need of conservation. Now, I’m all for conservation as long as its not in my backyard. If it comes down to me or the snake, the snake has got to go.

This next snake, the Massasaugas, is found throughout eastern and central Kansas. It also happens to be the smallest of the trio.

Again, this one has some beautiful coloring. They also tend toward browns, which I think would a little more difficult to spot in and amongst the brush. I think if I had a choice, I’d rather come across this one. It’s smaller than the Timber and easier to see than its brown sibling.
I can also say that this little rattler is doing just fine in the conservation area.
The last of Kansas’ rattlers can be found in the western half of the state, and for that I’m very grateful.

As you can see by his coloring he probably blends in nicely with the prairie landscape, even more so than the Massasauga. 
The Prairie Rattlesnake is also doing fine in the whole conservation area.
And, just in case you think these creatures are small, let me put it all in perspective for you.
The Massasauga, which is the smallest of the rattlers, measures up to 33 1/2 inches. Yeah, I’m thinking that’s a bit too long myself, but compared to the Prairie and the Timber, it’s a piece of cake. The Prairie, the one that takes up residence in the western half of Kansas measures up to 57 1/8. I suppose you’re wondering what the Timber measure in at. No? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway, if I don’t you’ll google, so I’ll save you the trouble. 63 1/2″! The record for the Timber is 74 1/2″

5 responses to “Kansas Rattlesnakes”

  1. I am at once fascinated and repelled by this post. I never knew there were different types of rattlers. I can't imagine living the pioneer life and putting up with frequent encounters with these guys!

    Good blog, Renee!

  2. I feel the same, Laurie. I'm very grossed out by the whole snake thing, yet, I'm with you, I didn't realize there were different kinds of rattlesnakes.

  3. We in Texas provide the habitation for the Western Diamondback rattlesnake, found in many areas in North America. This “lovely” critter ranges in size from 3-8 feet and is considered one of the 10 deadliest snakes. I've seen them in real life, out in the wild, but their rattles did the trick and I was outta there in a blink.

    I wanted to post a pic, but I don't think I can. 🙂

  4. Oh and I'm SOOOOO not a fan of snakes, but my mil has been known to look in the mouth of them to check for the curved viper fangs, before “eliminating” them from her property–and I quote “some water snakes look like water moccasins but they're not.”

    Uh, yeah.

  5. LOL, Bryn. I knew y'all had the Diamondback. Do you have a picture that you've taken or a link? You can send it to me and I'll post it.

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