Isn’t It Too Cold For Snakes?
When I saw that a portion of a hiking trail near Golden, CO was closed because of rattlesnake activity my first thought was "Isn't it too cold for snakes?"
I guess not. I do know that rattlesnakes are cold-blooded creatures and require an external heat source to keep their motor running. They do best in temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees but can get along just fine on a sunny 60-degree day. What I didn't know was that Colorado is home to about 30 species of snakes. Of those slithering about, three snakes are a threat to humans. All rattlesnakes. The prairie, the western, and the massasauga rattlesnake.
Back home in Missouri, we had rattlesnakes but more often the ones I had to keep an eye out for were cottonmouths and copperheads. I've never been bitten but have had a few close calls. One time while wading and fishing a creek a cottonmouth swam right up beside me before I realized I was sharing water with the snake. Needless to say, I exited the creek quickly!
A portion of North Table Mountain Park has been temporarily closed due to rattlesnake activity. The Cottonwood Canyon Trail is closed to public access, carrying a fine of $150 if you get caught hiking while it's closed. It appears the trail will be closed until mid-November.
No trails in the Grand Junction area have been closed due to snake activity but this certainly serves as a reminder to be mindful while out on a hike. The threat is real. A rattlesnake bite can be fatal. Just a couple weeks ago a 31-year-old endurance athlete died from a rattlesnake bite.