Increase in Western Colorado Rattlesnake Sightings Explained
Several Western Colorado residents are going to social media with reports of an increase in the number of rattlesnakes sightings in the area. Following a few calls to Division of Wildlife offices in the western part of Colorado, it seems there might be a number of explanations.
In a previous post, we shared info from a listener, Steve Harding, who had reported seeing six rattlesnakes over the course of one week, all in the same area. According to Harding, he has been working in that area for years, and until recently, has NEVER seen a rattlesnake in that location.
Upon learning of these increased sightings, a few phone calls were made to the Division of Wildlife offices in Grand Junction and Craig, Colorado.
Mike Porras, with the Grand Junction office of the Division of Wildlife, coordinated with a biologist in the north-western part of Colorado. Porras forwarded this email:
This is from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist in the area. He has also heard reports of increased sightings - Mike Porras
"I think there are a couple of things contributing to more snake sightings.
1. The small mammal prey base is high right now due to favorable weather conditions over the past couple years which in turn makes for healthier and more abundant predator populations like rattlesnakes.>
2. Rattlesnakes generally become more active during the fall (September - early October) when daytime temps start to cool with highs in the 80 - 90 degrees and in preparation for hibernation. During the heat of the summer daytime temps are too hot for snakes to be active 90+ degrees.
3. Rattlesnakes may also be making their way to hibernacula for the winter resulting in higher concentrations of snakes in localized areas. Generally, they won't travel long distances from their hibernaculum ("den") but have read they will travel as far as 3 miles.
I don't know about you, but after reading this, it all makes sense. Here we are in early/mid-September, the exact time of year when the biologist specified an increase in rattler sightings should be expected.
A big "Thank You" goes out to Steve Harding, Mike Porras, and the biologists with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. These sightings, while disconcerting, are kind of fascinating. Thanks for the information.