This Western diamondback is a bit on the simple side, but not atypical of how these guys look in this area between Arizona and New Mexico, or the central clade as I’ve seen it referred to. In this area near the continental divide, the two halves of Western Diamondback squeeze through a relatively narrow band, and some interesting variation in pattern and color happen. This is just one example; in the daytime, this snake will look totally different.
We saw this big diamondback out crawling around in the late afternoon in February. Western Diamondbacks can be seen on their first trips away from winter densites that time of year, though this one was headed out a bit further than I’d expect him. He’s a large snake I’ve seen many times in one of the city parks, living in a hole just 10 feet or so from a very busy trail. Much like many of the very large rattlesnakes that I have seen, he doesn’t like to rattle, and just crawls along his way if given the chance. Unlike a lot of the snakes in that particular wash, he’s looking very healthy, and I look forward to seeing him again this summer.
Driving fast along the base of these mountains, as I’m sure many of you have done, trying to outpace the rain and keep hunting. This is an amazing place.
Audio-terrorists are abundant in the late summer. It’s always funny how many of these my rattlesnake removal hotline gets calls for each season, with people believing the crazy uncle stories that there are rattlesnakes in the trees waiting to rain down venomous fury on anyone dumb enough to walk by.
They also have a tendency to fly in big groups from trees to bright lights attached to a guy’s forehead at night in the canyons. That part is no good.
These fat little guys are always abundant in a favorite spot to look for Grand Canyon rattlesnakes. Of all the Woodhouse toads I’ve seen, this locale is the most bland and monotone, but lazy afternoons after a long morning of canyon hiking produces some photography time.
On of my favorite ways to find rattlesnakes is to just hike at night, when they are out in the wide open and fairly easy to find. Where 6 or 7 years ago I’d just not do a lot of successful herping in the super hot dry month of June, now it’s perhaps the easiest month to see some animals. As snakes’ activity is minimized to due the extreme heat, they’re drawn to aestivation areas in relatively predictable areas, and are almost stuck there. I have dozens of diamondbacks, for instance, in the Phoenix area that I know exactly where and when to find them at that time – it’s almost disorienting when the rain finally comes and everything moves off again.
Here are just a few of the regulars. I don’t usually photograph them after the first time – so that I don’t disturb them, and simply because I don’t need to. They are sitting more or less in the same exact place each night.
While some of the timbers at the dens in Northern Pennsylvania had clearly been up for awhile, others seemed to have just come to the surface. Some, like this one, were still caked in mud and showed signs of being partially submerged for at least part of the winter - which is pretty amazing to think about.
This was the first large rattlesnake to emerge from this den in North/Central Idaho. This place has to be right at the limit of high elevation and Northern range of these snakes – when I first heard of this location, I was almost skeptical of the identification, thinking that the Northern Pacific rattlesnake would be a more likely bet. I was wrong – we watched 10 Great Basin Rattlesnakes climb out of the rocks over the course of a few hours on a rather chilly, windy day.
Fortunately, this road is seldom traveled, and this snake will probably not pay the price for its dangerous basking habits.
Wow, she looks pretty dramatic here! Anyone that’s tried to photograph anything but the rear 2/3rds of one of these knows how much of a pain this can be, but it can be done. I love whiptails, always busy and almost dismissive of the big primates walking around in their home.