The fabled, slandered, sluggish, sometimes noxious Western Cottonmouth. Though I truly believe that the subspecies breakdown in the Cottonmouths is largely in the mind of some of our herpetologists (Western, Eastern, Florida). Especially in these young guys. This one is only about twelve inches long. Though granted I have never seen a baby Florida Cottonmouth, this is what the adult Floridas are supposed to look like. Our local Western adults are not supposed to have prominent facial markings when they are fully grown. Certainly they are out there. Anyway, this little guy was coiled up next to Tom Lewis' leg while he was shooting a nice Azure at Bell Slough. I just lifted Tom's leg up and he kept on shooting.

An adult from Little River Refuge in Oklahoma. This one was over two feet long. Note the prominent facial markings that are still retained. The cat-eye or slit pupil of poisonous vipers is also easily seen here.





And the smallest Cottonmouth I have ever seen alive. In my front yard in June 2013. Moving quickly, I thought it was going to be another young copperhead but this beauty was coiled near my Chaste Tree. Look at those red eyes and red facial plates. Really impressive coloration. It was about 8 to 9 inches total length.





Same animal, with the fine dorsal banding pattern and those ruby red eyes. I was impressed.

 

 An adult Western Pygmy Rattlesnake, Sistrurus miliarius streckeri. This is the only one of its kind I have ever encountered. It was in the middle of a dirt road running exactly down the Arkansas/Oklahoma boundary. I carried it over to the side of the road (in my butterfly net) and let it go in Oklahoma (you're welcome, OK). Note the small rattle group at the tail tip. It never used them. Most of the rattlesnakes are very fine looking creatures. This one is no exception.





Okay, now I have seen two. This one from Saline county from just under my sandal. I stopped in midair and shook my head. Much darker individual than the near Oklahoma serpent above.
And oddly the first Prairie Rattlesnake, Crotalus viridus viridus, I have ever found. And not in Arkansas. They do not occur here and are Great Plains animals. This one was in the road in the National Bison Refuge in SE Montana in 2015. Never moved. About 2 1/2 feet in length. Did not rattle. It was a bit cool that day in spring. Often around Prairie dog towns, this one was up in the hills.   
The musical end of the same Prairie. Looks like about 10 buttons with wear on the last.  

Another creature from the Chiricuahua National Monument in Arizona. I peered over a ledge and this Banded Rock Rattlesnake, Crotalus lepidus klauberi, was sunning itself on a ledge below me. This snake is only found in this region. I was happy to see it.

The beautiful and active Southern Copperhead, Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix. It is found throughout Arkansas and is responsible for more human bites in the state than any other venomous snake. This is likely due to sheer numbers and the fact that it enjoys a good manmade structure. This one was coiled inside my storage building on Round Mountain. It was in the usual sit and wait mode of hunting with its head up in the midst of its coils. These guys can be active at night as well. Bites are rarely fatal but can be locally irritating and painful.

This youngster was about eight inches long and showed up in my front yard. The puppy found it first and made an impressive backwards leap into the air when this young snake struck at its puppy nose. It missed. Though it got the dog a dose of Benadryl anyway. I saw no other youngsters this week. And I have not seen many copperheads on the property. This one was transplanted over to the rocky slope above my creek.

The same youngster, close up of the remarkably freckled face.

This is the very fine southern form of the Timber Rattlesnake, Crotalus horridus, often called the Canebrake. The red-orange line down the back through the flying black wedges is distinctive. This one was photographed by David Arbour in the Red Slough area. I have seen one specimen previously in north central Arkansas. Norm Lavers recently encountered one in northeast Arkansas. They are known to winter in cooperative dens in the northwest part of the state.

All of the rattlesnake species are much less common than in historical times. Making encounters less of a problem. Timber rattlers have potent venom, however, with significant hemotoxin content. They also have long fangs making envenomation more likely for individual bites. And this is not a bite to take lightly if it occurs. They do make warning rattles but it is more of a sizzle than a loud rattle. They should be respected but not slaughtered for just being there.

Studies have shown that rattle aging can be very accurate. A snake with five rattles and a button is about three years old. This appears to have less than that so it is a youngster relatively. Nine year old snakes have thirteen rattles and a button. This species can live an astounding 25 years. Note that this would not result in a snake with over thirty rattles. At advanced ages there is some button weardown.

The really nice facial shot of a Timber Rattler from the Buffalo area. Apparently blocked the trail and Edward had to take a seat until this creature rolled on by. Pit is visible here. Really fine animals.

And another nicely marked 4 1/2 foot Timber in the Stone county valley where they seem to have a tremendous population of them. These are the snakes visible on the USeeWildlife site.

The face of this snake for comparison with above. Much more golden and each Timber has distinctive patches behind the head and the tail coloration is very variable.