It is a rare to actually record snake mortality--especially if it isn't a transmittered snake. Such an opportunity presented itself from February 9 to February 13 of this year.
On Wednesday February 9, Dale DeNardo was visiting our hill to document some of our Gila Monster activity. He did so with our full blessing and support. While doing his rounds, he discovered a sweet young female atrox basking, with head and neck partially out of a soil hole. He snapped a quick photo, flagged the site, and moved on.
On Sunday, 13 Feb, Dale led Brian Park, Karla Moeller and fat, dumb and happy here to the spot. The snake was still out, but not looking so good. We'll let the images tell the rest of the story.
Pic 1: Photo of snake insitu as found, 9 Feb. Photo by Dale DeNardo.
Pic 2: Photo of snake is situ on 13 Feb.
Pic 3: Dale gently grabbed the snake behind the neck. The jaws opened slowly, as if it was a last gasp. I don't think the snake was alive at this point, but there was certainly some reflex action. No stench, no ants, as fresh dead as one can ever expect to see without actually killing it oneself.
The short story is this: the poor thing overestimated her ability to crawl out of a tight soil hole. We pulled and tugged on her until I thought I'd break her in half. We tried digging her out with knives and sticks, but there was no release. We buried her, and I will return with a shovel next weekend to excavate, check for PIT tag, etc.
A full up report will happen next week. For now, that's all that is fit to spit.