Category Archives: Habitat

Sonoran Desert Reptile Hike March 2015

sonoran desertI had the chance along with my best bud to get out on a hike to enjoy nature and to look for reptiles. As were driving to our hiking spot, we each made guesses as to what we would find on our hike. We made a first and a second guess. I chose a patchnose snake as my first guess. I have routinely found them on spring hikes in the sonoran desert, so I thought this would be a good choice. For my second guess, I got a little braver and chose a speckled rattlesnake. My friend chose a ground snake and a black headed snake.

We ended up finding a patchnose snake as our first snake, so I won! Woohoo! I tried to take a photo of it, but it slithered away before I could get a good shot. If you look closely, though, you can see it in the photo:
Patch-nose snake

We saw several other lizards, of course. There were at least some variety of whiptail lizards as well as plently of zebra tailed lizards. The only other snake that we found was this diamondback rattlesnake, who was fully active in the middle of the sandy wash:
western diamondback rattlesnake

Here is a short video of the 9.5 mile 5 hour hike:

And finally, here are a few more photos of the area where we hiked and the hike itself:

yellow desert poppies

cactus with flowers

desert canyon

dead saguaro in desert

Central Arizona February 2015 Hike, Patch Nosed Snake

sonoran desert
I went on a short 3 mile hike with my daughter and neice today. The weather is very nice this time of year, in mid February. Temperatures were in the low 80’s today. At this time of year reptiles are once again active on the warm days like today. We hiked up the trail and found this beautiful patch nosed snake on the side of the trail, the front half of its body was hidden under a rock, but the rest of it was right out in the open and easy to see, and to grab.

Patch nose snake

At the top of this particular mountain there are some areas with some small caves and I noticed this odd shaped thing protruding from one of the small holes in the side of the rocks. At first, I thought it was some sort of mushroom. I thought that maybe there was a small amount of seepage and that it was causing this large fungus to grow in the rock. When we got closer, though, I discovered that it was really a wild bee hive. I believe that bees in the area have all been africanized. I swell up when I get stung by bees, so I try to stay clear of them as much as possible. Here is a quick video of the bee hive:

Arizona Sky Islands 2010

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!

Banded Rock Rattlesnake

Banded Rock Rattlesnake

Longnose Snake

Glossy Snake

Diamondback Rattlesnake

Blacktailed Rattlesnake

Tiger Rattlesnake

Blacktailed Rattlesnake

Trip to White Mountains, Arizona

It was a slow year for me for herping this past season. I didn’t get a chance to get out much. I did make a few trips to the White Mountains and here are a couple of photos. Not much but gartersnakes, although it was not really a herping trip, but a family fishing trip. Here are a few photos:

First Wandering Garter Snake
First Wandering Garter Snake
Second Wandering Garter Snake
Second Wandering Garter Snake
Beautiful Cactus with Red Flowers
Beautiful Cactus with Red Flowers

Sun Valley Parkway…. The passing of an era.

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.