Snake in the grass and a surprise

I went out on a local hike today with my best bud. I am still trying to find reptiles emerging from winter dormancy. Reptiles can often be found basking, foraging, and mating this time of year here in the Phoenix area. I also hoped to photograph a Great Horned Owl that we saw the last time we hiked this trail. As we approached the rock pile where we had found the Owl last week, we saw her again! I carefully approached to try and take a photograph. I only have a 100mm lens so unfortunately I have to get closer to the bird than I would like in order to get a good picture. Unfortunately, I “spooked” the owl while I was still a good distance away and it flew into a distant tree. We decided to carefully approach the nest to see if the owl was incubating eggs. To my surprise, this is what I saw:

Great Horned Owl Nest

After we took our photos, we left them be. We decended into a nearby was and hiked it for a while. The wash had steep rocky walls on either side. We walked along the rocky and at times sandy wash without finding any further wildlife other than a few whiptail lizards. I was running short on time and had to hurry back to my truck to head home. I cut through some rocky areas as a “short cut” that may also yeild the discovery of a basking snake or possibly a desert tortoise. I looked at the time and had to speed up my pace since time had already run out. While rapidly walking, I noticed at my feet a small Desert Patchnose Snake sunning itself in the late afternoon sun:

Salvadora hexalepis hexalepis
Salvadora hexalepis hexalepis

The snake lay motionless. Occasionally it would flicker its tongue. Since the snake seemed cooperative, I got on the ground and crawled closer to get a better photo of its head and its “patch nose”:

Salvadora hexalepis hexalepis
Salvadora hexalepis hexalepis

After photographing this spectacular animal, I quickly rushed back to my vehicle and sped home, arriving back home almost exactly on time (depending on whom you ask!).

Happy St. Patricks Day Rattlesnake

St. Patrick’s Day is the celebration of the Irish and of St. Patrick. In Arizona, for reptile enthusiasts, it is also the celebration, not of the banishing of snakes as the Irish legend portrays, but rather the awakening of the lower desert reptiles from their winter slumber! I went on a short hike today and came across this little beauty catching a few rays.

Snakes out of brumation

Well, it is March and the snakes have all been warmed up and taken several meals. A few snakes have already shed. Breeding season is almost here. We have some great projects this year and some good things to look forward to. I can’t wait! There is much work to do. I recently added some new cages and some ventilation. I am still working on labeling all of the cages. I have a few more cages yet to build that I will need for this upcoming summer hatch. Things are really moving along! We should have lots of corn snake babies available this season in addition to california kingsnakes, bairds ratsnakes, and possibly gray banded kingsnakes.