Visitors to Pt. Isabel sometimes wonder if a snake they have seen at the park is a rattlesnake. If there are rattlers there, they have been very rarely spotted. The snake most commonly seen at the park is the gopher snake, whose coloration and behavior are similar to that of a rattlesnake. Gopher snakes are harmless, unlike rattlesnakes, so it is important to know the difference.
A rattlesnake has a triangular head much wider than the neck, a thick body with dull skin, and a blunt rattle at the tip. If it is disturbed, it will shake its tail. The rattle sounds like bacon sizzling.
A gopher snake has a narrow head only slightly larger than its neck. The body is slender and usually shiny. The tail is pointed. A frightened gopher snake will flatten its head, hiss loudly, and shake its tail rapidly, doing a convincing rattlesnake imitation.
All park wildlife is protected by law. If you see a snake, leave it alone. Do not try to capture or harm it. Wait for it to go by. Do not approach it or l...
Sky, ground, smells, gophers. These are what Dakota loves about Point Isabel. She is a former puppy-mill dog who was locked up in a warehouse without access to daylight, walks, and most importantly, human affection. But that is the past and this is the present. Now she is a prima sunbather and does her happy freedom belly-rub dance every day. And she loves her humans deeply.
I volunteer at a local shelter and met Dakota there. There was no reason for her to trust me, but she did. When I sat on the concrete floor of her kennel, she coyly crept into my lap and, as lightly as a butterfly, rested her paws on my chest. Of course I took her home. I am currently fostering her through the rescue group, Power of Chi.
If you are looking for an affectionate goofball and devoted companion, a rescue like Dakota is your girl. But not on the first day or even first week. Given their pasts, it will take time for a rescue dog to warm up to new people. Be patient, though, and soon they will smother you wi...