Taking this photo was a Canadian highlight for me on my bike ride across Canada. This photo was taken August 1, 2020 along Highway 36 north of the Red Deer River on my way to Dorothy and then Drumheller Alberta towards the end of the day.
Coming across a Prairie Rattlesnake in Alberta was probably my greatest hope. Out of the corner of my eye, in the first fraction of a second that I saw the snake in the grass along the highway I instantly knew what it was. I never jumped off my bike so quickly as that moment.
In Canada we have a total of 3 species of rattlesnakes. The Massasauga rattlesnake found in Ontario, The Prairie rattlesnake found in the prairies and the Western rattlesnake found in British Columbia. This is only the second wild rattlesnake that I have ever seen in in my life. A few years back I found a Massasauga Rattlesnake in Tobermory Ontario.
The Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis viridis) is the only venomous snake in the Canadian prairies. These snakes are found in southwestern Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta and can get a little over 3 feet long with a life expectancy of 16 to 20 years. This particular specimen had a fairly long rattle. Every time a rattlesnake sheds his skin another ring develops around its rattle.
The conservation status of this snake is assessed as special concern. As with most animals this is a result of habitat loss and of course increased road mortality.
If only all my days could end with such a gift.