Iipay Aa name: ‘Ewii kwaahwatt
Common name: Red Diamond Rattlesnake
Scientific name: Crotalus ruber
When you are walking around Silverwood, make sure to keep your ears open. If you hear a rattle, check your surroundings. You may have run into ‘Ewii Kwaahwatt, also known as a Red Diamond Rattlesnake. Make sure you give them a safe distance away from you. Red Diamond Rattlesnakes are very venomous, but they are also beautiful to look at. Their bodies are long and covered in red diamond-shaped scales over their brown scales. Like all rattlesnakes, Red Diamond Rattlesnakes have a rattle on their tail tips. The rattles have white and black bands wrapped around their circumference. They use their rattle as a warning to predators like greater roadrunners, owls, and other larger snakes. Common sources of nutrients for rattlesnakes include rabbits, ground squirrels, birds, and other smaller snakes. Rattlesnakes will use their venom to subdue prey and assist in digestion. This is only one of their many adaptations. Another adaptation they have made to a chaparral environment is camouflage. Red Diamond Rattlesnakes are the same color as the ground. They are able to blend in with their environment and stalk prey. Fun fact: There is a pair of pits between their eyes and nostrils. These pits are heat sensors that act like built in night vision goggles they use for hunting.
Photo courtesy LA Dawson.
Delfina Cuero, a Kumeyaay lady born circa 1900, believed that if you were bitten by a snake you must not go into other people’s gardens or the plants will die. You could however, plant your own garden. Delfina mentions that gardens tended by people who had been bitten by snakes were among the best. If you were to kill these snakes, more would come back. The ‘Ewii (snake) in the Creation Story gives the People knowledge, that is why they are revered.