Nature in Santa Clarita, it's not what you look at, but what you see.
You may have heard that you can tell the age of a rattlesnake by the number of rattle segments in its tail. Don't believe it. But let me share a few interesting facts about rattlesnakes that you may not know.
The buzzing rattle you hear is not like a baby's rattle, with little pieces banging around inside. Rather, it's the sound of the rattle segments clicking together as the snake vibrates its tail.
The rattle segments on a rattlesnake have a few things in common with our fingernails. Both are made of keratin. Both grow from the base out, so that the oldest material is at the tip. And when a brittle fingernail or a snake's rattle gets too long, it catches on something and tears off.
Every time a rattlesnake sheds its skin, a new rattle segment forms. Shedding can occur as often as 1-4 times a year during the first two years and 1-3 times a year thereafter. So the snake in this picture with 8 rattles may be a healthy looking 2 year old. Or it may be older; it may have lived a hard life and lost a few rattles along the way. All I know is that I'm not getting close enough to look for wrinkles.
And one final note of caution. This has been a relatively warm winter, so I would keep alert, especially on a warm winter day. Wear sturdy shoes, stay on the trail, watch where you step and never put your hands in areas where you cannot see.
Our next Full Moon hike is scheduled at Towsley Canyon on Saturday, March 3 from 6:30 -8:30 PM. Towsley Canyon is located on the Old Road, west of I-5 and about 1/4 mile south of the Calgrove exit.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to www.LAMountains.com.
To see what's playing on radio station KHTS, go to http://www.hometownstation.com/or tune in to AM 1220.