Tag Archives: barney

Changing of the guard

Wow, it has been awhile, but I won’t bore you with the details of why we’ve been absent. What’s important is that WE’RE BACK! We (and the snakes) had a busy summer and even though the snakes will be headed to their dens soon, we’ll have plenty of stories to share all winter long while they’re waiting for the spring.

When we started this project one year ago, we implanted radio transmitters with one-year batteries into seven rattlesnakes. So we made the somewhat difficult decision recently to remove those transmitters and give most of those guys a break. They deserve it, but we’ll miss them. We said goodbye to: Henry (male western diamond-backed rattlesnake), Stuart (male western diamond-backed rattlesnake), Boyett (male Arizona black rattlesnake), Glendy (male Arizona black rattlesnake), and Barney (male Arizona black rattlesnake).

Wait a minute, Barney? Who’s that? We lost Barney last October, but he appeared like magic this September, pretty much right where we originally encountered him. Where did he go? Who knows, but at least we know he’s OK.

We (OK, mostly me) couldn’t bear to let Jaydin (male black-tailed rattlesnake) go, so he is still with us.

Henry (male western diamond-backed rattlesnake) spends most of his time near the preserve headquarters, so we continue to see him pretty regularly:

Henry (male western diamond-backed rattlesnake) at the head of the Nature Trail, 5 October 2012 (Henry, bottom left; Jeff’s foot, top right).

Now let’s meet the new guys (and gals!!!).

Persephone
female black-tailed rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus)
We can’t take credit for finding this beautiful girl, Jaydin led us to her. The full story deserves (and will get) its own blog post, but the short version is that Jaydin courted Persephone for about a week this summer. She is named for the Greek goddess Persephone, queen of the underworld.

Bane
male Arizona black rattlesnake (Crotalus cerberus)
baneBane was originally encountered during Snake Count Spring 2012, when he was spotted drinking from Secret Springs. At that time we measured, marked (painted his rattle) him, and set him free. He re-entered our lives in August while we were sitting in the wash, recording data and taking photos of Jaydin. Along comes Bane, cruising through the leaves a few yards from where we sat; it’s almost like he volunteered for the study. Bane was named for the main villain in The Dark Knight Rises, which may seem a little odd given that we’re trying to improve rattlesnakes’ reputation. Bane certainly caused a lot of trouble for Gotham, but we appreciate his ‘for the people’ attitude and his soft side, which I won’t elaborate on in case you haven’t seen the movie (SEE IT!).

Cathy
female Arizona black rattlesnake (Crotalus cerberus)
catWe again hosted the field biology class from Bangor University this fall. Whilst discussing social rattlesnake behavior in the Commons, Cathy crawled onto the patio just outside the door (another volunteer?). She is named for one of the professors leading the class.

Help us name this snake!
female Arizona black rattlesnake (Crotalus cerberus)
633Jeff came across this little lady while tracking Glendy in August. Like Glendy, she has a fondness for the mesquite forest and only recently traveled to Hot Springs Wash, probably on her way to her den. She was the first female Arizona black rattlesnake we found in Hot Springs and she is a young adult. Please help us name this snake! Email us your suggestions; we’ll pick the top 3-5 and have a poll on our facebook page to choose the winner!

melissa

Update: We have a winner! Luna was the name chosen by our facebook fans.

16 October 2011

The week began with a visit from our dear friend Roger Repp, who wanted to check out our new study site and track some of the snakes. We had barely started our hike down Hot Springs Wash when we came across a very healthy looking Sonoran whipsnake (Coluber bilineatus). As is typical with this species, it disappeared before we could get any pictures. October is not the best time of year for “herping” (looking for reptiles and amphibians) in Arizona, but Muleshoe breaks all the rules. Our next find was something that is not typically active this time of year, a Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum). And he was very active, barely pausing long enough to give a decent photo.

gilagila
He finally found a hole beneath a mesquite tree and disappeared. Now it was time to find Chris!

After some difficulty with our equipment, we located Chris (male Arizona black rattlesnake), who had moved downstream and was stretched out on a pile of branches and other debris piled up by this monsoon’s floods.
chris

We headed back to the ranch for a delicious lunch and satisfied with our finds that morning, Roger headed back to town. As Roger often does in his Suizo Reports (you can follow those here), I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story:

chris
Chris made a huge movement, out of Hot Springs Wash, across a mesquite forest, and ended up under the boulder in the foreground. In the background is a large talus, a feature sometimes associated with rattlesnake dens. Has Chris arrived at his den site already?

boyett
Boyett (male Arizona black rattlesnake) left Secret Springs and ended up on the grassy slope above, resting under a boulder (pictured above) and later beargrass.

jaydin
Jaydin’s (male black-tailed rattlesnake) first stop after leaving Hot Springs Wash was also Secret Springs (pictured above) and a couple days later he was up on the same grassy hillside as Boyett. When last tracked, I watched Jaydin cruise along the hillside for nearly an hour, at times approaching me quite closely, seeming very determined to get somewhere. This should have been a warning to me of what Jaydin was about to do, but at the time I just enjoyed watching him fearlessly move about:
jaydin

 

glendy
Glendy (male Arizona black rattlesnake) loves his mesquite forest. He crossed the road a couple times, but never moved very far, which is a good thing because telemetry is difficult in dense vegetation! The signal emitted by the transmitters implanted in the snakes bounces off trees, making it very hard to figure out where the snake is. I stepped within a meter of Glendy at this spot before I realized I had walked right past him!


Barney (male Arizona black rattlesnake) also left Hot Springs Wash for the mesquite forest near the road. Dangerously near the road – you can see it in the upper left-hand corner of the photo.

henry
Henry (male western diamond-backed rattlesnake) spent a few more days near the casitas before moving up to the twin lakes – a pair of hot spring-fed ponds that are used to maintain native fish. There are also a ton of frogs in the ponds, which may be what attracted Henry.

stuart
Stuart (male western diamond-backed rattlesnake) spent a couple days beneath an overturned horse trough at the spot where we saw a pair of courting western diamond-backeds on our first day. Then he settled under a mesquite tree near the horse corral.

melissa

First week

coluber
A Sonoran whipsnake (Coluber bilineatus) at Muleshoe Ranch.

Our first week of tracking was pretty uneventful.  We release snakes as soon as possible after their transmitter implantation surgery so that they can recover in their habitat. So typically the first week or so is pretty slow; the snakes lay low while recovering and don’t make big movements.

Henry, our largest western diamond-backed rattlesnake, headed straight for the hot springs.  Throughout the history of Hooker Hot Springs, people have come here for the healing properties of the springs.  Was Henry also seeking magical healing?  Probably not.  Rattlesnakes often hunt near pools, and it is more likely that Henry was trying to get a meal.
henry
This photo was taken the day after we tracked Henry at this spot. The red arrow points to the crater Henry left in the mud.

Our other western diamond-backed, Stuart, found a fantastic log to rest beneath on the weedy hillside adjacent to the casitas. He was closer to the casitas than most guests here would like to know!
stuart

No rest for the Arizona blacks; Chris immediately moved out of the drainage and into the mesquite forest.  A couple days later he moved further downstream, still in the mesquite forest.
chris

Barney made a short movement to a pile of branches piled up by this summer’s floods and stayed here for a couple days.
barney

Glendy crossed the road but remained in the mesquite forest where he was originally found.

Jaydin, our black-tailed rattlesnake, was on the move.  He was first seen under a downed log adjacent to Hot Springs Wash, then moved into a huge debris pile upstream.
jaydin

Quiet so far, but as the active season comes to a close, the snakes are on the move and a bit harder to keep up with…

The Arizona black rattlesnakes trickle in…

One week to go and we haven’t found any Arizona black rattlesnakes yet (remember, we wanted six). The clock is ticking.

On the afternoon of 26 September, I started my snake search by checking on the bird-eater. He was in his usual spot, waiting for a thirsty bird.
bird-eater

I then hiked downstream in hot springs wash and didn’t see another snake for hours. This is such a beautiful place, it is difficult to be disappointed by not seeing any snakes.

At about 5pm, it was time to turn around and head back in defeat. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a jet black little disk under a fallen log. Finally, our first Arizona black! Unlike some, Chris has almost no yellow scales on his back – he is completely black. Very pleased with my find, I happily headed back to the ranch.
chris

Our next snake search came a couple days later on the afternoon of 28 September. While Jeff checked out the mesquite forest near the ranch, I checked to see if the bird-eater was still around.
bird-eater

Yep, bird-eater was in his usual spot, but facing upstream today. Since bird-eater thought this was such a good hunting area, I decided to explore it more carefully for others. On a perfectly-sized ledge on the bank of hot springs wash, was another beautiful Arizona black rattlesnake.
barney
Barney

Meanwhile, Jeff ran into an Arizona black rattlesnake on the move near the old corrals where Glendy King was shot. Glendy King was the original homesteader at Muleshoe Ranch, so we named this snake Glendy.
glendy

The final Arizona black was found by Jeff a couple days later. Boyett was hunting on the banks of secret springs, a spot where cottonmouths seem more likely than rattlesnakes.
secret springs

And now the real fun begins, as we follow these guys around…

melissa