The infamous line from Indiana Jones in the 1st movie...
I happen to hate snakes too...only the ones that are poisonous...at first they startle me (for good reason) then I check to see what KIND of snake they are and THEN I panic...gopher snake...ok...you can pass...you're cool...go and eat some ground squirrels...but a rattler...I can backpeddle pretty fast. I ride out in the east bay hills, mainly Pleasanton ridge, and I'm happy to say that I have yet to encounter a rattler this season, but for all intents and purposes, SNAKES are prevalant this year...
Doug Bell, wildlife program manager for the East Bay Regional Park District, said excellent habitat and feed conditions have benefited snakes and most wildlife. He called it "a spectacular snake year."
It's become common this month to see lots of snakes at Bay Area parks, from the Central Valley into the foothills across California, and in the high country of the southern Sierra.
Heavy rain this spring was the trigger. High forage supported lots of ground squirrels, mice, gophers, small rabbits and lizards. That provided a ton of food for rattlesnakes and gopher snakes. Other critters have shared in the feast, including bobcat, fox, coyote, and raptors such as golden eagles, hawks, falcons and owls.
How can you tell a "good snake" - gopher snake from a "bad snake" - rattler?
Rattlesnakes are important members of the natural community. They will not attack, but if disturbed or cornered, they will defend themselves. Reasonable watchfulness should be sufficient to avoid snakebite. Give them distance and respect.
This is a Contra Costa Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
This is a Contra Costa County Gopher snake.
Here's another snake that confuses the whole situation! The California Night Snake!