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Rattlesnake slideshow/lecture April 19

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  • Kate Marianchild
    Many thanks to John Griffith for writing this great article! The Rattlesnake Lady: She won’t bite, but she will rattle your view on snakes By John Griffith
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 11 8:48 AM
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      Many thanks to John Griffith for writing this great article!

      The Rattlesnake Lady:
      She won�t bite, but she will rattle your view on snakes
      By John Griffith

      Few things immortalize the Wild West more than cowboys, cow drives, and
      rattlesnakes. But while cowboys still enjoy popularity in rodeos and
      cigarette advertisements, and cows have become popular Mcworldwide,
      rattlesnakes have been� well, they�ve been chopped in half with
      shovels.

      Snakes have had a bad reputation in western cultures since Genesis.
      Thanks to science, we�re starting to realize that snakes aren�t really
      mindless muscles that slither around with hypnotizing eyes,
      skin-piercing fangs, and the evil intent of ambushing a picnicking
      family. Still, Katie Colbert, the Rattlesnake Lady, would advise you to
      watch where you set your cooler.

      On Thursday, April 19th at 7 p.m., Katie Colbert will give a slide
      presentation on America�s most misunderstood and unappreciated reptile
      at the Ukiah Civic Center (directions below). Colbert is a wildlife
      biologist with the Sunol-Ohlone Wilderness Region of the East Bay
      Regional Parks. This event, which is sponsored by Peregrine Audubon
      Society, is free to the public, though donations are happily accepted.

      Colbert describes a rattlesnake's worldview as �six inches high and
      crisscrossed with the scent trails of rodents.� For the last nine
      years, she has studied them on their own turf. She stalks them with the
      help of radio-tracking technology and has made some amazing
      discoveries. She has followed the same snake back to the same
      rock-covered den where he has wintered for five years in a row. She�s
      even discovered two female rattlesnakes-possibly sisters-that prefer to
      spend their time together.

      All of this may sound way too endearing for something that has severe,
      unblinking eyes (snakes don�t have eyelids) and a mouth full of venom.
      It gets even more interesting. Rattlesnakes and their prey have
      co-evolved. Poisonous fangs gave rattlesnakes a major advantage over
      rodents. With one quick bite rattlesnakes could coil up, watch their
      prey die, and then eat the victim after it stopped struggling. Yet one
      of their favorite menu items declared an arms race and has evolved too.
      Adult ground squirrels are no longer affected by the snakes� venom.
      They have become immune.

      While some could claim that ground squirrels have benefited from
      humans� vast, rowed forests of fruit-bearing trees (orchards), no one
      could make the same statement for rattlesnakes. We have taken over
      their habitat and do not allow them to live near us. Even when we
      encounter them in the wilderness we often kill them. Katie says that
      those nature lovers who think they are sparing a snake�s life by moving
      it miles away to a �safer place� are giving that snake a death sentence
      as well. It takes a long time for a rattlesnake to become acquainted
      with every rodent trail, lizard hangout, and good hiding place. When it
      is moved out of its territory, it often exhausts all of its precious
      energy reserves trying to adapt to the new location-and dies.

      The best way to co-exist with rattlesnakes is to understand them. Now
      we have a rare opportunity to do just that. Katie Colbert is sure to
      inspire you to think more deeply the next time you hear that hissing
      rattling sound that sends adrenaline shooting through the veins of even
      the toughest outdoorsman. She encourages you to come to her
      presentation with an open mind. Her co-presenter would appreciate it if
      you left your shovels at home - for he� is a rattlesnake.

      The rattlesnakes' worldview will be revealed at the Ukiah Civic Center
      on April 19th at 7 p.m. From 101, take Perkins St. west to North State
      Street. Turn left. Go three blocks and right on Seminary Avenue.
      Proceed to the Civic Center parking lot.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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