Field notes and photography by Bryan D. Hughes

Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnakes

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5 Responses to “Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnakes”

  1. Aaron says:

    We find bundles of the pink mitchelli at our place here in Yavapai County. Awesome animals, perhaps my favorite find thus far.

  2. Michael says:

    We recently found a small (3 rattle sections and about 25″ long), regular phase C. mitchelli in Maricopa County. On the same day we found a molossus and an atrox, all within several hundred yards. Do these species interact at any level, predatory or otherwise?

  3. Bryan says:

    They do interact, though I do not believe with any particular intent. If you were to go into a mine shaft, you may see several species sitting together. I believe it is more tolerance than actually seeking out other snakes for some sort of social purpose. Some may make this assumption when finding a multiple species sharing a hide or crack, but it is much more likely to be a case of convergence which is not obvious to us. Similarly, we may converge on a coffee shop, but not have any interest in talking to another soul there.

    I have one enclosure with three mitchelli and a tigris. They very often share resting locations and are usually in a big tangled pile in the basking area in the morning before I turn on the “sun”. Watching them, they largely seem unable to even recognize the other snakes as such, moreso as structures. One will crawl right on top of another coiled snake and coil right on top of it, the former then having to get out from under and find somewhere else.

    Conversely, I have a mating pair of cerberus in a different enclosure. When they’re not courting, they are almost never in the same spot. Both have separate hides where they prefer to digest meals. The female tends to use her hide more, and the male likes to sit out front and center in front of the hide. My casual observation is that they seem much more aware of eachother and take measures to not actually sit right on top of the other … and pretty much stick to themselves when they’re not working on making more little cerblets. This might be due to there being some established social order between them. This is all very casual observation over a fairly short time, however, so take it with a grain of salt.

    Lawrence Klauber has some interesting observation on cohabitation within wintering dens, where not only multiple species of rattlesnake will be found, but colubrids, other reptiles such as turtles, and even prey items like skunks and packrats. There may be some mutually beneficial relationship here; I could see how a few warm bodies in a winter den might do more good for the group than eating them.

  4. Michael says:

    That is very interesting. So it would seem that inter-species predation between various Crotalus sp. (for example a large atrox and a small mitchelli) would be unlikely, even in the wild?

  5. Bryan says:

    If it happens, I’ve never heard of it. It may simply be them being just as at risk by a venomous bite than any other predator; if a rattlesnake takes a bite, even from itself, it will likely die. Sounds like a good reason for peaceful coexistence to me.

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