Rare and elusive snake spotted in Texas, photos show. But don’t get too close

A Texas landowner recently came across a gray and black rattlesnake curled up on a tree and quickly realized there’s “something a little different” about it, according to wildlife officials.

There’s no shortage of rattlesnakes in Texas, but few people ever encounter the ornate black-tailed rattlesnake, an official with the Kerr & Mason Mountain Wildlife Management areas said in a Sept. 15 Facebook post. The snake was spotted close to the town of Hunt, in Kerr County, the post said.

“I don’t believe I have ever seen one in this area or heard of anyone else that had,” the official said.

The ornate black-tailed rattlesnake, also known as the eastern black-tailed rattlesnake, can be found across much of Mexico, most of Nevada and a large portion of New Mexico, according to officials.

But their range can also extend into Texas, their territory like an arm reaching from El Paso to central Texas, a map shows. And within that arm, sightings are much more rare than elsewhere, according to data on iNaturalist.

An ornate black-tail sighting near Jonestown in 2019 made headlines, as it was the first time the snake species had been seen in Travis County since 1953, KVUE reported at the time.

Compared to the common western diamondback rattlesnake, the ornate black-tail has a more gentle disposition, officials say, though it would still be foolish to go near one.

“This snake is considered one of the more docile of the rattlesnakes and reported to have less toxic venom relative to the diamondback,” the post said. “Just when you think you have seen just about every animal in your region, you still can get some surprises.”

The town of Hunt is roughly 115 miles west of Austin.

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