Monthly Archives: February 2012

Winter

December and January were pretty quiet here at the ranch; as you can see from the above photo, the weather has not exactly been snakey. OK, it only snowed a couple times and melted pretty quickly, but it has still been too cold for snake activity. Even Jaydin (adult male black-tailed rattlesnake) finally settled into a den and has not moved since the end of November. Although western diamond-backed rattlesnakes are known for their winter activity, neither Henry nor Stuart have peeked out of their den yet. We have a timelapse camera set up outside their den, and so far have only seen their bee neighbors coming and going. Chris (adult male Arizona black rattlesnake) has also not moved or been seen lately.

But we have good news: Jeff found Glendy, one of our lost Arizona black rattlesnakes! Turns out we were having problems with our equipment and Glendy hasn’t moved more than a few meters. He is in a cave with at least one neighbor, probably a Sonoran whipsnake (Coluber bilineatus). We set a timelapse camera on their den, so hopefully we’ll have photos of both of them soon.

Surprisingly, the only other snake visible in its den is the remaining Arizona black rattlesnake, Boyett. This is surprising because I’ve never heard of anyone seeing this species in the winter, while sightings of western diamond-backed rattlesnakes are common. We are monitoring three diamond-backed dens and can’t see anyone, but can see two of our three Arizona black rattlesnakes. But that is one of the many things I love about snakes: we know so little, so we are always learning new and very cool stuff!

melissa

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Rattlesnake sociality exists, it’s complex, and likely occurs in multiple species

Rattlesnake sociality exists, it’s complex, and likely occurs in multiple species

Drs. Rulon W. Clark, William S. Brown, Randy Stechert, and Harry W. Greene [1] found cryptic sociality in timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus). Timber rattlesnakes use communal winter dens and pregnant females aggregate together at rookeries to gestate their young. Clark and colleagues collected DNA samples from rattlesnakes to examine relatedness within these aggregations. While all individuals from the same den were not related, (…read more)