I took Isa on a hike in Topanga State Park. The weather was quite warm, so I reminded Isa to be careful of rattlesnakes. About a mile into our hike, a couple warned us that “about a quarter mile up, there’s a big one right off the trail, on the left.” I thanked them and we kept walking. A few minutes passed and Isa said in a small voice, “Have we gone a quarter of a mile yet?”
I said no, but it seemed prudent to begin treading carefully. Isa then pointed out that the man said “on the left.” “His left or our left?” she pleaded.
I was thinking the same thing so we anxiously scanned both sides of the path. Finally, we got to a point where I said we had definitely gone a quarter mile, and we both wanted to turn around, but we pushed further.
We saw a man, wildly waving. “Want to see a big rattler?”
The self-identified amateur herpetologist pointed out the snake, coiled under a bush. The creature looked angry. “I borrowed a walking stick to move him off the trail,” he said, “but he keeps coming right back on. He’s hungry.”
He then told Isa she could take a few steps closer.
“Isa, don’t,” I said.
He then told me that I should carry a walking stick, ‘to better move them off the path, you know.’
I told him I probably wouldn’t do such a thing, and we thanked him and took our leave. A half a mile later, I spotted a huge rattler, right on the side of a hill, stretched out like a rope on a cliff. Again, I wanted to turn around but knew our path might be blocked by the other snake.
They say Guam is infested with snakes. However; in all my years of living there, and that includes tromping around in the jungle a lot, I have seen a total of three brown tree snakes, and one of them was in the zoo. The other was in the middle of the road, and about ten feet long. After some discussion and consternation, a group of Navy men decided to run it over with their jeep.
I’ve had plenty of snake sightings in Topanga. Last year alone I saw several ring-necked snakes, some gopher snakes, and plenty of Western rattlesnakes. Here are some interesting informal statistics: Sixty percent of all rattlesnake bite victims were messing with the snake to some degree; and of those victims, half of them were drinking.

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.