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.
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.
In 2010 we were able to make a trip down to southern Arizona. While on a hike in a beautiful rocky area, we were privileged to find this little gem. It rattled, which is probably what caused us to see it. Otherwise, it would have probably been sufficiently camoflaged for us to have missed it and walked right past. Hopefully we will be able to get some more video of montane rattlesnakes in 2011.
Here is another short video clip of a Mohave Rattlesnake that we found this past spring of 2010. I am really looking forward to this year! I may spend a little time this spring looking for Rosy Boas and some time looking for montane rattlesnakes in southern Arizona this summer. We should also be hatching out lots of baby cornsnakes, california kingsnakes, and if I am lucky some gray banded kingsnakes and bairds ratsnakes.
I am considering adding some youtube videos for Desert Canyon Reptiles. I am experimenting to see if it is worth the trouble. Here is my first youtube video of a short clip of a sidewinder that we recorded in the spring of 2010. Hopefully there will be more and better videos to come!
We had a great trip to the southern Arizona sky islands this year. Our last trip to the area was in 2008 and we were glad to get back to the southern parts of our great State. It was very cool out for the time of year that we went, so temperatures got too cold very early at night, usually by 9 PM. Here are some of the photographs of the area, truly beautiful. We ran into Border Patrol and were only pulled over one time this year.
We had the chance to meet up with a few herpers from Phoenix and had an all around great time!
We went out fishing to Alamo Lake this past saturday. On the way there, we drove past a very speedy red coachwhip zipping across the highway! We also saw a nice desert iguana as it skirted past us at top speed while driving on the desert roads. After our unsuccessful fishing attempts, we started looking for critters at dusk. We did not see any reptile life until all of the light was gone from the skies. Temperatures began to drop quickly, going from the upper 80’s to about 70 degrees in about an hours worth of time and I began to doubt if we would see anything at all. Then, we came across our first snake of the evening, a very healthy small adult Mojave Rattlesnake:
I let my son pick it up with our large snake stick with much supervision. It was his first attempt and I think he really enjoyed it. He was very careful and aware and I helped him with both of my hands on the snake stick as well.
We continued on and it was a long time before coming across anything else. We eventually did come across a Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion, which my oldest daughter enjoyed finding. They really are quite large with the one we found probably measuring a total of 5 inches including tail.
I was really hoping that we would find a sidewinder and that I could show my kids this unique rattlesnake and its “sidewinding” motion of movement, as well as the horns that are above each of their eyes. Luckily for us, just before calling it quits, we did find a small adult:
We got a chance to head out for one night in August searching for reptiles. We headed into the deserts to the North and East of Phoenix and had some decent luck. It was a great outing! We tried some of the prickly pear that was ripe on all of the cactus in the area as well. I can’t wait to do it again next year!
The first snake of the night was was this pretty little California Kingsnake:
As we climbed slightly in elevation, it began to get a little cooler and we then found this very cooperative Blacktailed Rattlesnake:
Here is a closer shot of this photogenic animal:
Shortly after finding the Blacktailed Rattlesnake, we started heading for lower ground where it was a bit warmer again and then we found this young Longnose Snake. When Longnose snakes are juveniles, they do not yet have any of their orange or red coloration. This is developed later in life. They look very similar to California Kingsnakes. Here is the one that we found. If you look very carefully, you can see the red beginning to creep in at the edge of some of the scales:
We eventually decided to take a side road that turned out to be a very long dirt road. We drove for many miles, not seeing any further animal life. After what seemed like an hour, we finally saw this large Gila monster waddling across the dirt road. Here is a picture of the beast: