SunRidge Canyon Golf Course in Fountain Hills, Arizona is a unique golf course built inside a sloping canyon. The golf course construction was nearing completion but the animals that had always lived there were still around and appeared frequently.
I vividly remember the morning in 1995 when I headed out to the course in the early morning darkness, and drove up to a line of employees in work carts who were stopped on the cart path. I parked alongside them and asked, “Why are you here instead of working?”
“See there?” Nicasio said as he pointed ahead.
“No, I can’t see. Turn on your lights for me.”
Nicasio turned his lights on and pointed to a mauve and green colored rattlesnake coiled on top of a short wall beside the cart path.
“It’s a bad one,” Nicasio said, “we don’t get any closer.”
I recognized the snake as a Mojave rattlesnake, and yes it is very dangerous. It has the reputation of being aggressive towards humans. (I once had a Mojave rattlesnake chase me in my jeep) Even though all rattle snake species are venomous, this species is particularly dangerous to humans. The Mojave rattlesnake has the most potent venom of any rattlesnake in North America. “Mojave toxin” is much different from most rattlesnake venoms in that it is highly neurotoxic, affecting the respiratory and nervous systems of the bite victim within minutes. Not only is their venom about 16 times more toxic than other pit vipers, the venom can stay in a person’s system for weeks or months. It’s the worst possible snake to have near people on a golf course. I wanted a wizard to make it disappear, because I would be looking for this snake every time I’m on this part of the golf course.
We had to evacuate, so I told everyone to turn around and follow the street beside us to the clubhouse. From there they could safely get onto the golf course to work.