This is a Western Diamondback rattlesnake. This is what the mean, nasty little bastards look like.
And people really do go out and "round them up". But not me. I don't have the requisite rattlesnake tattoo or the decided bravery / lack of good sense it demands.
Sweetwater is just west of Abilene, TX, which is quite a ways west of Foat Wuth, which is just 30 miles west of Dallas. It's in West Texas, an area my dad always said he would be happy to give back to the Indians if they would take it. It's sparsely populated, and yes, rattlesnakes really do outnumber people there by a wide margin.
For me West Texas is a love / hate sort of place. I went to college there (in Lubbock) and had a great time, probably due to the fact that it was 363 miles away (or as my Yankee friends might say, "4 states over") from my parents.
On the negative side, they have some killer dust storms there. Today the fancy-pants meteorologists call them "haboobs". We always just called them dust storms 'cause we giggled when we said "haboobs".
And there are lots of rattlesnakes out there. I cringe now thinking about all the times I went backpacking and rock climbing in Palo Duro Canyon; I was probably within easy striking distance for some of the little bastards, but never realized it at the time. Ignorance really IS bliss. :)
Now I read there is a big controversy regarding how the rattlesnake roundup-ers round up their rattlers. It was apparently common for them to pump gasoline fumes into the little underground dens where the reptiles resided, which brought them to the surface and easy capture.
Now the PETA folks say that's cruel and unusual punishment and want it stopped. I say getting bitten by a 5' long rattlesnake is cruel and unusual, too, so go protest THAT!
I hardly think killing off a few thousand rattlesnakes is going to put them on the endangered list. It would be like saying putting out a few thousand rat traps is going to eradicate all the rats in NYC. Ha....NOT!
As you might imagine, the state licensed rattlesnake catchers are incensed. (So if Gov Rick "Pretty Boy" Perry is so against government regulation, why do rattlesnake catchers have to be licensed?)
*sigh* I dunno. I'll let the scientist-types decide this one. I'm gonna try and not think about it and instead go have me some fried rattlesnake for dinner. What's that? We're fresh out of rattlesnake? OK then, I'll just have chicken. :)