We weren’t quite sure what to do. He was RIGHT there on the edge of the path, and there were lots of other hikers on the trail that day. We stayed a while and warned a few people, and Jon even tried to get it to scram by tossing rocks in its general direction, but he just coiled up under a bush and rattled at us more. Eventually we decided he’d be more likely to bite the next person the more we pissed him off, so we gave him a wide berth and went on our merry way.
I took to Twitter that night to find out what sort of rattler (pronounce it with two syllables instead of three, it’s way more fun) he was. Snake experts on Twitter are very helpful – turns out he’s a “tiger rattlesnake.”
See his tongue? I say "he" because snakes are boys.
According to Wikipedia this species has the most toxic venom of any snake in the Americas, but their venom yield is comparatively low due to their dinky heads, so I probably wouldn’t have died if I’d been bit. Nevertheless, I’d like to relay a personal message to the snake. Thank you, snake, for rattling at me instead of just biting me. I know that, as a venomous serpent, you have many options when it comes to dealing with hikers, and I appreciate you warning me before attempting to murder me.