Thursday, September 17, 2015

The patience of snakes

 It's snake weather again. Each year, our rattlers show several bursts of activity. One is beginning now at the end of the monsoon season after a few good soaking rains. Diamond Backs even have a second mating season in fall. So every evening Frodo, our snake barker, announces his sightings on and around the patio.

Yesterday I heard a loud buzz when the dogs were running up to get their dinner. A big Diamond Back was curled up in their path, looking somewhat annoyed, but sat quietly while the dogs were being fed 10 feet away and then let into the house. He then moved on, too. Go, get those packrats!

This morning we walked into the state land right next to our place, happy that for once we heard no 'puff puff puff' noise from the guns of dove hunters. But we aren't able to pay enough attention to two things at once. On the way back I nearly stepped on a curled-up Sidewinder with Randy's tracks firmly imprinted on both sides and Bilbo's nearly touching the snake's body. That had been very close.

Temperatures in that sunny spot were approaching the nineties by then. Nevertheless, the snake was tightly curled up, snuggled in and keeping a low profile as only Sidewinders do. I thought that he'd soon be too warm, so he'd probably be close to moving on. I had not seen the 'side-winding' motion and was determined to make him demonstrate it. Camera in one hand and a thin, dry creosote branch in the other, I tried. Gently. No reaction.

A little more forceful. He acknowledged me with a flick of his tongue. I pushed the stick under him. He turned out to be much easier to flip than a pancake. I unraveled his coil, admired the small, perfect rattle, he just gave me a look.

I felt more and more guilty about disturbing his peace. I moved him back to his favorite spot, tucked him back in and rearranged his coils. Not quite right, he sighed and perfected it himself.

I apologized for disturbing him so rudely. I still haven't seen a Sidewinder side-wind. He dozed off for another hour or so.
This blog has links to 2 videos on flickr. Please click on the orange highlights in the text to see them. And trust me, while clumsy, I was gentle.


  1. You certainly have a love for animals of every kind. I enjoyed browsing your blogs. What got me here was I was trying to ID a Gecko living in my garage. Looking now to ID a bug. Sticky feet to say the least, and being in Arizona for 30 years, this is the first year I've ever seen one. (Actually 2 now). I'd like to know more about them. I have a pinterest picture of it at

    1. Please understand that I am not going to chase after a pinterest photo. If you have questions about insects from anywhere in the US, you can post them on where I am an editor and many experts are ready to help. If you are in the SW US, you can also join our FB group SW US Arthropods and post it there