doin’ the rattlesnake shake…

We both see it at the same time. It’s laying in the road up ahead. Is it dead? And what kind is it?

We slow down to a crawl to get a better look. It’s a rattler.

No longer alive, yet I’m still terrified. The head took the impact of this hit and run. The rattle broken off and gone. But this has happened recently. The body is squishy and warm.

My husband knows what’s going to happen next. I want it. I want this snake so it’s life wasn’t wasted. It will come teach with me at the museum. The skin will educate.

He also knows he was the one driving and pulled over so….

But honestly, my brain was on pickle ball just minutes ago so mentally I am a disaster now.

We had gotten up early and were heading over to a park in Apache Junction that has nice, free outdoor courts. I am dressed for pickle ball not roadkill recovery. I don’t want to smell. I’m positive neither does my husband. We also don’t drive an open truck. We have an Expedition that I put things in I shouldn’t. There really isn’t a way to describe what a few week dead coyote smells like. It’s currently down in the shed waiting it’s turn to become educational…I will write about that later.

Grabbing a box, we scooped up the dead snake, put the lid on and threw it in the back of the car. My brain has basically exploded at this point. Yuck!, gross!, OMG this is super cool!, how am I doing this?, what am I doing? I don’t know how… must go to youtube, oh yeah pickle ball.


Up until this past April, I had never seen a rattlesnake in the wild. I am born and raised desert. Now, thanks to living around the Superstition Mountain and working at a museum with a very old barn and stamp mill, I have.

They are terrifying. A living, moving, breathing diamondback is beautiful and deadly at the same time. I have great respect for our wildlife. I don’t really have it in me to be the one who would kill a snake. It would have to be attacking my dog or something where I was defending. I’m more catch and release.

Hitting the pickle ball around for a while was greatly needed but still didn’t drain my anxiety. I brought the rattler home, I was going to have to skin it. I have absolutely no idea how.


I find some crazy dude in Florida that sounds like someone I would hang out with and watch his video. His snake is huge, but in Florida they have all kinds of crazy reptiles so the one he had was probably average and he was right at home working with it.

But watching and doing are two entirely different things.

This snake body I have is squishy. I have no real area or tools dedicated to this new hobby of mine. I improvise.

Though my husband is awesome, supportive and a Marine, no he is not going to touch this. He hands me an axe and protective eye wear.

The mangled head must go. Again, I am new, this is my first beheading. I am having an out of body experience. I tell myself it’s already dead and I’m just cleaning it but that doesn’t slow the high- speed train of adrenaline pulsating through me.

I have scissors dedicated to this sort of thing after I used them to remove the skin from a Javelina corpse.

I will spare you the rest. How anyone would eat snake I don’t know.IMG_1256

I get parchment paper and lay the skin out flat but realize this is going to make jerky quickly since it’s 100 degrees outside before noon. I go back to my youtube guy and see that if I want my skin soft and pliable I need to soak it.

So that’s where we are now. Soaking.

Feeling Rattled

It’s about 3 in the afternoon…it’s Saturday at the Museum and we have a wedding in the chapel soon.

I’m in the barn in the General Store ringing up a guest when I hear the screams. I fly from around the counter. A large group mostly of kids but some adults are standing in the entrance of the barn staring at the large rattlesnake making it’s way across the barn floor.IMG_0322.JPG

The train staff is gone. No volunteers roaming the grounds really because we close at 4. If John the Blacksmith is around the corner he obviously can’t hear or would be running to help me so I’m guessing he’s not there.

The snake is moving at a pace quicker than I like and heading towards the old wagons. This is a very old large wooden barn with every crack and hole you can picture. I can’t dial my boss Jeff fast enough.

Pulling out my phone basically gives the audience permission to pull out theirs for this amazing, rare and stupidly dangerous photo shoot.

By the time Jeff and Pete get to me the rattler has gone into a hole directly underneath the General Store. For those of you who have never been there, this store is TINY…size of an average childs room. But the hole goes UNDER not through so really…I’m not that freaked out…

We run around to see if we catch the snake coming out the other side. We wait, but no. Praying it went under the store to nap we all disperse and Jeff (my amazing but now understandably more crispy boss) tells me we are going to close up the store, we (me) have had enough excitement for one day. But a few guests still wanted to buy this or that so we stay.

As we are helping them…more screams. Guess who is not napping under the General Store but back roaming across the barn! Yes…our rattler friend. And we are now heading out around the corner to the Blacksmith. That is NOT the area you want a rattler cozying up.IMG_0329.JPG

Jeff calls 911. Pete has the “snake rope noose on a stick thing” (my words not his) but can’t get a good enough angle at the rattlers now bobbing and weaving head.

Though not rattling at us, it wasn’t pleased and wanted away from this annoyance. It curled back around on itself and wedged in between the concrete and wood.IMG_0340.JPG

With everyone cleared far away, Jeff and I waited and watched.

Well, that spot didn’t last long either and we were back on the move. Sensing it wasn’t getting harassed any longer, the rattler repositioned and headed back into the Blacksmiths Shack.IMG_0343.JPG

After too much time passes with no fire department Jeff calls 911 back…they have sent no one. I’m not about to ask him why at this point.

Our rattler of the day has made it under the Lost Dutchman shed and it’s time for the Museum to close.

No, we did not ever catch this particular rattlesnake. We only relocate anyway, we do not kill.  This is the desert surrounding the mighty Superstition Mountain. Welcome to rattlesnake territory.