Close Encounters of the Great Basin Rattlesnake Kind (Updated)

I recently receieved a request from Gary Hart, a member of the vast readership of I’d like to support Gary’s efforts to achieve his employment-related personal development plan. His plan includes online study, and apparently material on encounters with Great Basin Rattlesnakes (GBRs) would be germane. If any member of my vast readership has had such an encounter, please post your account as a comment to this entry. A wealth of information on GBRs is found at

As for myself, I doubt that I have ever encountered a GBR. As a youth I went with my father and my brothers on a backpacking trip to Willow Lakes in Colorado. My younger brother Doug wandered away from camp unnoticed, but he had our attention when he scrambled out from behind a big rock and screamed that he had encountered a rattlesnake. I’m not sure we fully investigated his claim, which I find quite interesting in retrospect, given that his alleged encounter occurred yards from the campsite we used for several days thereafter. Unfortunately, even if Doug encountered a rattlesnake, it is unlikely it was a GBR as GBRs do not reside in Colorado. Perhaps Gary Hart already knew that?

Update (9-7-10)

I placed a hypertext link on the URL appearing in the entry.

4 Responses to “Close Encounters of the Great Basin Rattlesnake Kind (Updated)”

  1. anonymous Says:

    You may not realize this, Greg, but I also hail from the great state of Colorado. And as you surmised, I was aware that GBRs do not reside in Colorado (at least voluntarily).

    Of the 25 species of snakes in Colorado, the western rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) and the massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) are the only venomous species. The western rattlesnake appears in most habitats throughout the state. The massasauga, however, is limited to the southeastern grasslands. I imagine your brother Doug’s encounter was with the western rattlesnake (assuming he wasn’t making up the whole dang story!)

    There are six basic ways to distinguish venomous snakes from their nonvenomous relatives:

    1. Rattles at the end of the tail.
    2. Fangs in addition to their rows of teeth.
    3. Facial pits between the nostrils and eyes.
    4. Vertical and elliptical pupils that may look like thin lines in bright light. (Nonvenomous snakes have round pupils.)
    5. A single row of scales between the vent and the tip of the tail. (Nonvenomous snakes have two rows of scales.)
    6. Broad triangular head and narrow neck.

    Perhaps Doug could comment, with the benefit of hindsight and these factors, to identify his snake as venomous or non?

    Gary Hart

  2. snakebuddies Says:

    I live in Utah and come across GBRs very regularly. I even have lots of photos. It looks like this is a pretty old post, but if you still need any GBR info, let me know. If you look at my blog, you’ll see some info there as well.


  3. snakebuddies Says:

    No problem Greg! I just posted a new blog specifically on GBRs. Take a peek if you get a chance.

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