This lyresnake (lyre, as in the old instrument, not like your ex-girlfriend/boyfriend) was found by Jon and I on a night hike. They’re one of my favorite colubrids, being such weird little things in appearance, and secretive in nature. Big nighttime eyes, rear-fanged, mildly venomous viper-in-training. We saw lots of rattlesnakes, too, but this was my favorite find this trip.
Here’s another one from an unrelated mountain range, just to get a closer look at those cool eyes.
See him? This is one reason why this snake is almost completely unknown to most Phoenicians despite being one of the most common snakes in the inner-city mountain parks. This one was no different, found in the bushes in a rocky canyon right alongside backyards in an old Phoenix neighborhood.
I’ve been lucky to have seen this big old man 3 separate times now, kicking around a popular city park in Phoenix. Each time was a separate year, and each time he’s doing just fine. He doesn’t seem to be impressed by the humans, and just keeps on with his business as he is photographed.
You don’t always get to choose the circumstances of the first time you get to see an animal, and this one was certainly such a case. This sliver of scale was all I ever saw of my first Red Diamond Rattlesnake, Crotalus ruber. Fortunately, we saw another 23 that day, and a spattering of Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes (and a lot of other stuff, too), so I’m quite happy with having left this one exactly as is, as we did.
Little baby gila monsters are pretty cute, especially when they’re trying to be scary. If you’ve ever seen a gila in the wild, you know that they’re not very fast at all. This is their threat display – hissing and display of a black inner mouth, which is about all they’ve really got unless one manages to get ahold of you. That is pretty easy to avoid, however, since touching these in any way is illegal, and there has never been a gila monster bite that hasn’t been fully deserved by the ‘victim’.
This is 1 of 3 gilas seen this evening (along with a coralsnake and 5 species of rattlesnake). Yes, we were happy.
I was relocating a diamondback on a mountain in North Phoenix, and saw a skinny little female chuckwalla dart into a rock. On the way back, I though I’d offer her some water, and she was instantly fine with me being there. She drank from the rock, and eventually came out and right into my lap.
I got it on video, too:
… which seemed to get a bit of attention, resulting in this bit of silliness:
Spring is the time to find Gila Monsters out on the surface. While they can be found all year, April and May are when they are most active and most easily seen. In a typical year, I’ll see about 5 (though in 2013 I saw 10!). This is one that cared a little less about my presence and went right on with its business sniffing around for small animals to eat.
This big old boy was found via radio-telemetry, to be captured and have his transmitter removed. Being from a place where we don’t even look for snakes out active on the surface unless it’s in the 70′s, finding this one fully exposed on a rock in the 50′s in light rain was amazing. It’s definitely a different feeling finding rattlesnakes while seeing your breath!