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      Nature Report: Rattlesnakes

      Coiled beneath a coyotillo bush, a big diamondback rattlesnake lies in ambush. The deadly snake has chosen a perfect site, as it is within easy striking distance of a well-used game trail leading to a small pond.

      This is double danger. Coyotillo is perhaps the most poisonous plant in the South Texas brush country, and ingesting the berries can cause paralysis.

      The snake lays motionless, waiting for an unwary rabbit or some other creature to venture close enough for a lethal strike.

      Despite being well camouflaged and perfectly still, the presence of the diamondback does not go unnoticed by a roadrunner, which circles the snake.

      Roadrunners will attack rattlesnakes, and if they can induce them to strike the daring birds will peck their heads. But this would be a lot of snake to take on, and the bird wisely stays just out of range. The roadrunner flicks its tail and spreads its wings, but the snake will not budge, and so the roadrunner finally gives up. As the morning warms, the snake flicks its forked tongue and begins to slowly uncoil. Being cold-blooded creatures, rattlesnakes must seek cooler shelter during the heat of the day. Poking its triangular shaped head out from the leaves of the coyotillo, the rattler begins crawling to its den beneath a large prickly pear cactus.

      Silently, six feet of slithering serpent glides by the ponds edge as the impressive snake crawls to sanctuary where it will spend the heat of the day before re-emerging at dusk to once again lie in ambush.