Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The first Rattler of 2014

On January 26th, I found my first active (sort of) rattler of the year at the Santa Cruz River Path in Marana, Pima Co Arizona, USA.

When I was walking my 4 dogs, camera and binoculars around my neck, a lady informed me of a run-over little snake just ahead. I said: 'run-over on this path, what a pity'. She responded 'I'm only telling you so your dogs won't freak out.' When we found the little rattler it was stretched out and quite stiff, but seemed unharmed. He was obviously cold and trying to warm up on the sunny pavement. Only a little over one foot long he had already accumulated several rattle elements. By the way, it's a myth that one can tell the snake's age in years by the number of those.  After a little coaxing with a piece of straw the rattler woke up, buzzed indignantly, and moved out of the bike path. My 4 dogs were staring at him with too much interest and too little fear for my taste.

Check out how his winter weight-loss shows at his tail-end: his skin is throwing two big folds there.

When I posted the story on fb, someone remarked that this might be a Mojave Rattler, and I think that is possible. Going back through my earlier slides, I found that there were always a few among all the Diamondbacks that I photographed. It's not too difficult to tell them apart conclusively, but you have to take a closer look at them than I sometimes do. Here is a link to a blog written when I did.

On the same walk we saw two Northern Harriers, both gold-brown, a Red-tail, a Cooper's, the territorial Kestrel, a group of Lawrences's Goldfinches,  a Belted Kingfisher, several Abert's Towhees, some Mallards, and flying overhead, two clouds of thousands of birds. The first cloud consisted of sparrow sized birds and I couldn't tell what they were, the second was made up of Blackbirds, mostly yellow-headed, and grackles.A lonely Monarch was fluttering among the willows along the river.


  1. Wow that is early but not entirely surprising considering how warm it has been.

  2. I was just reading David Attenborough's "Life in Cold Blood", which explained the tail formation and the myth of ageing in Rattlesnakes, so funny that you should mention it too! Nice to hear your interest in the welfare of this little guy - good that he gets to live another day! :)

  3. That is a VERY thin snake. It's so rare to see our native snakes so I rely on you for my fix!