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We were hiking through the Arizona desert when we heard the unmistakable rattle of a highly venomous snake. A warning that we were too close for either party’s comfort. Though while many would have turned on their heel immediately, the photo opportunity was worth risking our lives for. (That’s admittedly a little dramatic, though journalism taught me to never ruin a good story with the facts! We do actually make sure we keep a safe distance before snapping away.)

Rattlesnakes live only in North and South America, and 13 species live in Arizona which is more than any other US State. Highly venomous, these these snakes have glands that make venom, much like human saliva glands make saliva, though according to Arizona Poison Centers, less than 1% of rattlesnake bites result in human deaths.

My guess is the 1% which do result in human deaths are likely associated those who stick around to set up photography camp!! Though as Veronica Leonard said in reply to this photo on twitter, “there is something about a forked sapphire blue tongue that is dangerously beautiful”. We agree!

rattlesnake arizona

Rattlesnake, Arizona. Photo by Mike Jerrard.

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Meg Jerrard is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

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  1. There’s a reason why I blog about wine touring, fewer encounters with venomous snakes. Although he is s dangerously beautiful.

    • Lol not a bad reason to blog about wine touring :D!

  2. Great picture! :)

    • Thanks Paul!

  3. I’m afraid that is too frightening for me to think it’s beautiful. But that’s just the coward in me talking. Great shots!

    • Thanks Cathy! Well you can at least enjoy the shots without having to actually take them :D Maybe don’t ever take us up on an invite to come hiking lol!

  4. *Shudders* I’d say I’m like Indiana Jones when it comes to snakes! The risk you take for your readers Meg!

    • Gotta keep life exciting somehow :D!

  5. Great encounter!!
    Aome days ago I saw two cobras dancing!! What a great sight!! Great reptiles!!

    • Wow that’s awesome! We’ve only seen cobras dancing once before in North Carolina and it was an amazing sight to see! So glad you also had the chance to witness it!

  6. That is an amazing picture. I wish I could get a picture that cool but there is no way without a great snake and because I have a point and shoot lol

    • Thanks Ben! We have a compact digital camera, so only one step up from a point and shoot but it does have a pretty good zoom :D We shoot with a Cannon Powershot SX40 which are actually pretty affordable for a camera of it’s quality :)

  7. Great photo! Thanks for tempering the ‘danger’ with some facts. It’s a Western Diamondback, if you didn’t know. Was this seen in February?

    • Thanks Bryan! Definitely looks more vicious than he actually is – the fear is there in a lot of people, but we’ve found they never strike unless they’re feeling incredibly threatened, cornered, or you step on them. Which we accidentally did once with a cottonmouth in Florida who was hiding in the middle of the path – luckily he only bit the outside of Mike’s shoe!!!

      This was last week, so start of Feb. Didn’t think that they would be out just yet but there were hundreds of them!

    • Megan, can you email me? I’m a snake researcher and have some questions about your encounter. Sightings this time of year can be incredibly useful for conservation. at

  8. Wow, I’ve got to agree – that sapphire tongue is striking. Glad you two made it away bite-free :)

    • Heading back out for some more hiking today lol so wish us luck :D!

    • Such a nice post, keep providing good resources.

    • Thanks Beyonce, glad you enjoyed it :)

  9. Photos like these are often found on the covers of National Geographic magazines. You are such brave souls! This photo is exquisite, and we have to say that is one gorgeous snake!

    • Thanks so much guys! That is such a huge compliment for us that you’ve associated the photo as Nat Geo worthy – they’re our heros! So glad you love the photo :)

  10. HI,

    This is amazing picture of Rattlesnakes, a great appreciation for photographer for this amazing pic

    • Thanks Linda! So glad you enjoyed viewing our photo … this is one of my favorite of our wildlife shots :)

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