by Brady Raymond
Yes, snakes. “isn’t this a mushroom blog?” Yeah, it’s a mushroom blog but Deviating From The Norm can be a good thing once and awhile especially when you find yourself in drier regions with few mushrooms around. Snakes have certainly been on my mind lately and I hope they will be on your mind too this spring. I grew up in Michigan, (southern lower peninsula) and every summer I would catch snakes, almost exclusively Garter Snakes, but I did see a few Water Snakes, Racers, and Hog-Nosed Snakes. Once I even found a small Milk Snake. I was young but I remember being extremely excited, they are such beautiful snake and rare in at least my experience. My dream snake, however, was always Rattlesnakes. I had dreams of the South, more specifically the Southwest. The desert seemed so exotic compared to my Midwestern home and that is where as a youngster, I imagined all the Rattlers were.
Ironically, there are Rattlesnakes in Michigan. My Grandfather and other old-timers I knew would talk of the little buggers being under piles of hay around the farm and near to swamps, which is what Michigan mostly was a century ago. The Rattlers found in Michigan are the Massasauga Rattlesnakes and I have only seen the shed skin of one brought to school by a classmate. I imagine they were mostly wiped out by the farmers as more land was converted to agriculture and then to housing. If there are any in Michigan now, they are most likely confined to the thickets, marshes and swamps where folks rarely venture.
I’ve spent some time down in the Southeast and Southwest too, yet I have never stumbled across a Rattlesnake, and trust me when I say I was looking for them. I’ve turned over plenty of rocks and logs in my day (always turn them back the way you found them) but I was never lucky enough to spot one of these beauties, until now.