Tag Archives: allison

Snake season is here!

Last month we told you about the western diamond-backed rattlesnake den we recently ‘discovered’ at preserve headquarters. Well, this past week has been a busy one for our rattlesnake neighbors. We have seen about a half dozen adult males and females hanging out and/or dispersing from their den.

Here are some highlights:

An adult male briefly chin-rubs female #22 as he emerges from the den.

An adult male briefly chin-rubs female #22 as he emerges from the den.

Female #22 dispersing from the den.

Female #22 didn't go too far - she's seen here a couple days later under a rock in our yard :-)

A couple days later female #22 is under a rock in our yard 🙂

In the following video another female emerges from the den and shortly thereafter disperses.

DSC_7153

It almost seemed like this guy was showing off for our guests! While he rested here, everyone got a great view of him from above and below at the visitor center.

DSC_7156

A closer view of the above rattlesnake resting outside the visitor center.

Our first snake sighting of 2012, was nature’s rodent control, Allison. Because she showed up at headquarters so early in the year, we thought she probably denned nearby. Turns out her den is very close indeed!



At a nearby den we wrote about last year, the snakes are starting to emerge as well. We didn’t set up cameras there this year, but we hiked over there yesterday and found this friendly face peeking out from the outcrop:
LDatrox

In other news, Persephone (female black-tailed rattlesnake) was seen basking near her den, so she may be on the move soon too. Stay tuned for more!

ANNOUNCEMENT: Join us at the Muleshoe Preserve for Save the Frogs Day on Saturday 27 April 2013. Details on this event can be found here.

melissa

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Allison

Because of our remote location, there is no trash pickup at Muleshoe Ranch.  We have a couple trash bins where we accumulate bags of trash from residents and guests until we get a chance to take it to the local dump (~one hour away).  Over the winter, rodents moved into our trash bins and created quite a mess.  Hauling trash bags is not fun; hauling trash bags that are leaking due to being chewed by rodents is just gross.  Of course we don’t use poison at Muleshoe because that works its way into the food chain and harms animals other than its intended target, so the trash rodents were getting out of control.  Then Spring arrived, and with it, nature’s rodent control: Allison.

We first observed Allison hunting near the trash bins on 9 March.  Allison is a large female western diamond-backed rattlesnake who was in really good health, perhaps good enough to give birth later this year.  On 11 March, Allison had some hunting success:

Excellent!  Perhaps Allison will help us clean up the trash area.  The following day she moved right into one of the trash bins:

You may have noticed that unlike many of the rattlesnakes pictured on this blog, Allison is often in a defensive posture.  Like most animals, rattlesnake attitudes vary among individuals – you might say they have personalities.  Lucky for us, Allison is quick to respond to human presence by rattling and posturing.  Why lucky?  Many would interpret this behavior as ‘mean’ or ‘aggressive,’ but it probably indicates that Allison is scared of us.  And since she currently lives in a high traffic area for staff and volunteers, it is lucky that our resident rattlesnake alerts us to her presence well before there is danger of stepping on her.

Despite regular searches, we didn’t see Allison for nearly two weeks and were starting to wonder if she had moved on.  There was still plenty of food (rodents) in the trash area, so we couldn’t understand why she’d want to leave.  Then on 25 March, we found a dying rodent near the trash bins.  Assuming this was Allison’s latest meal, we set up a camcorder and slipped away.

About two hours later, Allison found her prey and consumed it.  Unfortunately, the camcorder battery shut off just before she arrived, so we only have still pictures taken through the fence:

The benefits of having Allison take up residence near our trash bins were twofold.  First, she did appear to have an effect on the rodent population – they were less noticeable after she moved in.  Next, because she was hanging out near the casitas, but usually behind a fence, several visitors got to see a free-ranging rattlesnake in a non-threatening situation.  A group of friends who visit Muleshoe every year got to watch Allison eat and a couple young children got to see her up close through the fence.

We hope to see much more of Allison in the future.

Spring is here!

Jaydin

Jaydin (male black-tailed rattlesnake) 24 March 2012

Or rather, has been here (I’m a little behind in posting :-)). After many boring weeks of tracking our rattlesnakes and seeing almost nothing (we were sometimes able to glimpse a few inches of two of the Arizona black rattlesnakes), nearly all of them have now emerged from their dens.

The first signs of spring arrived in mid-February, when the western diamond-backed rattlesnakes started basking just outside of their dens. We’ve had remote timelapse cameras set up on Henry and Stuart’s den (male western diamond-backed rattlesnakes), Glendy’s den (male Arizona black rattlesnake), and two other dens (you can read more about one of those dens here and here). One of the new dens only had one occupant this year, a male western dimaond-backed rattlesnake we call Dwight. We finally had a snake to show interested visitors to Muleshoe, as he was reliably out basking, every day, all month (he’s now gone).
Dwight

Glendy surprised us by coming out one wet, chilly morning in February:
             
Glendy, 17 February 2012 (click on photo for larger version, but he’s still difficult to see).

3 March: Of course Jaydin (male black-tailed rattlesnake) was the first to emerge – is anyone surprised? He was still a little sluggish, but looking beautiful sitting a few yards from his den.

Jaydin (male black-tailed rattlesnake) 3 March 2012

8 March: Stuart (male western diamond-backed rattlesnake) was the next to emerge from the den he shared with Henry (male western diamond-backed rattlesnake), a bee hive, and several other rattlesnakes (more on that in a future post). He has been resting underneath a rock downslope of the den ever since. Henry stayed inside until 29 March.

Stuart

Stuart, 8 March 2012

9 March: A female western diamond-backed rattlesnake showed up near the guest housing on the ranch. So snakes are now on the move… Allison will get her own post very soon.

Allison

Allison, 11 March 2012, not at all happy to see us.

15 March: Our first yard snake of the year and it’s my favorite, a very large gophersnake!
gophersnake

25 March: Boyett (male Arizona black rattlesnake) has emerged and was seen coiled beneath an oak tree just outside his den.

Boyett

Boyett, 25 March 2012. Who would have thought a jet black snake in yellow grass would be so hard to see?

Boyett closeup

Boyett, 25 March 2012. Can you see him now?

26 March: Glendy (male Arizona black rattlesnake) was coiled just outside his den. A few days later he left the immediate area posed nicely for a photograph:

Glendy

Glendy, 31 March 2012.

As of 30 March, Chris (male Arizona black rattlesnake) has not yet left his den. Interestingly, he was the first to arrive at his den (we haven’t seen him since 13 October) and will be the last to leave. We will likely have news of his egress soon, social dens at Muleshoe, and (finally) some female rattlesnakes!