Scales and Tales

More Rattlesnakes in the Black Hills


A recent question about rattlesnakes prompted us to write this post, since we figured it may be helpful to many people in the Black Hills area.

The question involved concerns that there has been an increase in the population of rattlesnakes, or that there was a nearby den of snakes that contributed to increased snake encounters and danger to children and pets.

In fact, there have been many such questions this year. In nearly 13 years here at Reptile Gardens, I have never received so many calls about rattlesnakes.

More Activity, Not Snakes

The short story is we don't have more rattlesnakes this year. We are just encountering them more frequently because both humans and snakes have been more active due to more temperate weather.

Rattlesnakes generally enjoy cooler weather. Not cold weather, but definitely cooler than some of the drought-inducing temperatures we've experienced in the last decade or so.

We've become accustomed to low snake activity in the summer because of these high temperatures. During these periods, rattlesnakes are generally more active:

- Early morning

- Late evening

- Night time

And since humans are generally the least active at these times, there's a perception of low rattlesnake activity, which implies a lower population.

So What Changed?

The last couple summers have been much cooler than previous years, so the snake's activity cycles are greatly increased. They are active on most summer days at 4pm or so, all night, and until 12 or 1pm. This leaves only a few hours of the day where they are avoiding the higher temps.

Since it hasn't been so stinkin' hot for us people too, we are out and about for longer periods of time when the snakes are also active. The result: we are seeing more snakes this year than in previous years.

So rest assured, there's no uptick in snake populations, nor is it likely there is a den close by that poses any more danger than usual. You'll simply want to be more vigilant and take some precautions against enticing snakes onto your property. We'll be writing more about that soon - stay tuned!




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Sky Dome

Step inside the Sky Dome to experience a warm tropical climate while exploring our indoor jungle filled with exotic and unique flora and fauna. 

Rattlesnake Gulch Funtier Town

Try your hand at gemstone sluicing, go on a 3D safari, or test your aim at the shooting gallery! Our very own old west ghost town has numerous photo opportunities and activities to keep the kids entertained.

Cheyenne's Habitat

Cheyenne the bald eagle has been a permanent resident of Reptile Gardens for 11 years with permission of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Maniac's habitat

Maniac is our resident giant saltwater crocodile. At over 16 feet long and1,350pounds, he is one of the largest giant crocodiles in the western hemisphere. If you don't see him at his enclosure inside the SkyDome, make sure to check outside!

Prairie Dog Town

Get down to eye-level with these fuzzy little animals and see firsthand what life is like in a typical prairie dog town!

Methuselah's Playground

Methuselah was a giant Galapagos Tortoise weighing in at over 600 pounds, and a long time resident of Reptile Gardens. His memory lives on at this playground featuring a bronze statue of Methuselah himself. 

Snake Show stage

Get up-close-and-personal with our snake ambassadors in this family-friendly snake handling show.

Gator Show stage

Dozens of Alligators, Crocodiles, and Caimans and one keeper...what could go wrong? Separate fact from fiction in this educational, family-friendly show and get a chance to pet Fluffy, our baby gator!

Bird Show stage

Interact with birds from around the world at the Bird Show, where they love to show off their beauty and intelligence. 

Gift Shop

Carrying a wide variety of Reptile Gardens souvenirs as well as educational books for every age and a variety of stunning rocks, minerals, and fossils from all over the world.

Green Parrot Cafe

Hungry? Refuel with buffalo burgers, The Maniac burger, Black Mamba Shakes, Indian Tacos, and more!

Giant Tortoise

Don't miss this photo opportunity! Get up-close and personal with these friendly giants who love to have their neck scratched and are great with kids. 

Tortuga Falls

Take a stroll through this meditative garden, gaze into our turtle and koi pond, listen to the waterfalls, and don't miss Darwin the Kookaburra! 

Walking Garden

We're about more than just Reptiles! Our outdoor gardens are beauty to be seen as they change throughout the season and year after year. 

Living Wall

This vertical garden is a wall of color that grows and changes through the Summer season creating striking patterns and unique portraits as it grows. 

Pet A Python

Don't miss your chance to Pet a Python!  Our snake handlers ar here to talk about any questions or myths you've heard about snakes. Don't forget your camera! Our pythons are very photogenic and love to photos with you!