The season is well on its way. We had a nice dust storm with some light sprinkles this past weekend and decided to see what would turn up out in the desert. Headed out west of Phoenix and found several critters including Mojave Rattlesnakes, Sidewinders, a Gopher Snake, and this pretty little Ground Snake:
I just received word that the land along Sun Valley Parkway, west of the White Tank Mountains in central Arizona is now scheduled for development. The area is a vast expanse of open desert land in central Arizona west of Phoenix. The road, Sun Valley Parkway was a favorite local herping spot for Phoenix residents for years. It is now being developed with new subdivisions and thousands of new homes.
I personally have always avoided the area since I knew that this would inevitably happen. The White Tank Mountains will now be completely surrounded by development and the habitat will be lost.
The area was home to many desert reptiles including Gila Monsters, Desert Tortoises, California Kingsnakes, and many others. All of these reptiles and other plants and wildlife will be gone.
This reminds me of another issue. Why doesn’t the Arizona Game and Fish Department do something about this? While they cannot do anything to stop the developement, they could at least make some use of this situation. Gila Monsters and Desert Tortoises are both protected in the state of Arizona. You cannot legally collect these animals from the wild. They are thought by some to be in danger of over collection and have been protected from take by the Arizona Game and Fish for quite some time. Why can’t these animals that are certainly facing extermination be collected by Arizona residents? Why is there no special procedure or permit to allow for this? If these animals are so endangered, why not allow animals from this population whose days are numbered to be legally collected by those who care about these animals and would like to be able to legally possess them?
Hopefully wildlife laws will someday make sense and actually serve both humans and wildlife both. I wish there were something that could be done. I apologize in advance for such a sad post to this blog.
I went and did a little reptile display and education for a group of Cub Scouts on thursday. I brought several varieties of corn snakes, a few baby rosy boas, and a gray banded kingsnake. I showed them some rattlesnake photos, some snake skins and also gave them an opportunity to watch the rosy boas and corn snakes have a meal. I think they all really enjoyed the presentation….including the adults. Another person brought their sulcatta tortoise to the display as well. It turned out really well. One of the parents also bought a corn snake!
July has been extremely busy. The cornsnakes have been hatching since the 20th. We are up to our ears in cornsnakes. We have creamsicles, snow corns, albino corns, anerythristic corns, and more on the way. We had a chance to go herping as well, and found lots of really interesting herps. I will post some photos from that trip in a future post. For now, here is a photo of a hatching creamsicle cornsnake:
Last night some storms came in and me and my wife went out to see what we could turn up. There was a bit too much rain for my liking, and apparently for the snakes too… We did turn up a Kingsnake and a Western Diamondback. Here is a photo of the Diamondback:
Well, the air is becoming more humid and we are starting to see clouds forming in the evenings and have had a few mild dust storms. The monsoons are on their way. I can’t wait until they hit. I plan on making a few small side trips and at least one large trip during this time. I just love the smell of rain in the desert and the reptiles that the moisture brings out. Hopefully we can find some nice critters over the next several weeks.
We are still a few days to weeks off from the first clutch of snakes hatching too! What a wonderful time of year!
I checked the snake room this afternoon and found 7 more eggs, this time from a pretty California Kingsnake. The eggs all look good, nice and white. The female looks to be in good condition too, which is a definite plus. That brings the current egg count to 111 eggs. We still have another clutch or two left for this season and one female rosy boa that should give birth to a handful of babies. We did good on the cornsnakes this year, but not so good on the kingsnakes, only getting 7 california kingsnake eggs, 3 gray banded kingsnake eggs, and 3 desert kingsnake eggs. We are only a few weeks away from the hatching of the first clutch of 2006!
Here is a picture of a longnose snake from Southern Arizona. We saw two during our last trip. Not quite the coral snakes we were hoping to see, but very colorful nonetheless: