Nature is Not Always Pretty: Gopher Snake vs. Cottontail Rabbit…by Jim Stiles

WARNING: Some readers might find these photos disturbing.

We all love pretty pictures and videos of “nature” scenes and wildlife frolicking together–myself as much as anyone. That’s why it can be shocking and unpleasant to realize that nature is generally NOT pretty and NOT cute. Nature is often nasty and violent. And we need to confront ourselves with that fact–that the gopher snake is an essential player in the tapestry of nature, as is the coyote and the mountain lion–even if watching these animals take their meals makes us queasy. So I present these photos as a reminder: nature is not always pretty.



I was doing a “road patrol” through Salt Valley to the Klondike Bluffs on a hot summer day in
1979. It was always a good place to take a nap and after dealing with tourists all morning, I felt a little siesta was more than deserved, even if I was being paid for it.

As I dipped into Salt Valley Wash, a flash of color caught my eye, just off the two-track. Incredibly, this is what I saw. Even more astonishing was the fact that I had my camera and that I remembered to use it.

The Gopher snake had just put the final squeeze on the cottontail rabbit when I arrived on the scene.
The snake dragged his victim into the shade of a nearby saltbush and proceeded to disengage his jaw and consume his dinner. Sad to say, I ran out of film before I could record the entire feast.

If you’d like to see the tables turned in the rabbit v snake war, check out this video from YouTube…










Cover photo by By Bill Bouton via Wikimedia Common.

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