Friday, November 12, 2010

Roger Repp's Long-term Field Study of WDRs

Roger Repp has sent the following account of his recent field work on a Crotalus atrox, a field study that has been going on for 9.5 years.  Previous reports have been emailed to a smaller group of herpers.

Howdy Herpers,

We just finished the most exciting week ever in our 9.5 year study. Some may remember that the last report ended with a picture of a concerned mother atrox (CRAT #124, "Beverly") coming out of her nest hole to ward off an interloper. For review's sake, we include that pic again. The next three images (Figure 1) are further developments at the nest hole, culminating with five neo shed skins being collected on 15 September.

The next three pics (Figure2 ) are of a pre-courtship and eventual hook up of an unknown male atrox with CRAT #124, "The Princess." The photo of the male appearing to hide his head is misleading. He is actually trying to squeeze down a small soil hole to get to the Princess. This occurred on 11 September.  That evening, John Slone, Marty Feldner and I noted that this snake had forced his entrance to the point where the tip of his rattle was flush with the soil edge. I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT NONE OF US TOOK A PHOTO OF THAT! Anyhow, the next two pics in the sequence, taken  15 September, show that perseverance pays off. I do believe that I could be arrested for one of these photos.

Lastly, on 19 September, Ryan Sawby, The Peach, and I had tracked down our last snake. It was CRAT #121, "Tracy." She was buried in a root system that was covered by wash jetsum, not visible. While I was starting the write up, The Peach and Ryan wandered off, merrily admiring the explosive insect life that was occurring all around us. It was HOT! HOT! HOT!, and I was right in the sun, tucked against a heat-sinking embankment. I finally realized that I was doing this write up alone, so I had to drag all the junk out
of my pack in order to do the job that The Peach normally does.


I must have been over there within ten seconds of the commotion, but my two comrades later drilled me good for not hopping to it quickly enough. The next five shots are part of what I got with the camera. The fight was between an old guy and a young stud. My first impression was that the young stud was winning, but that is not what the photos show. I'm glad to say that I think the old guy was winning. The last photo shows the young stud holding his ground. The old guy came after us, changed his mind, and started to flee the scene.

The Peach insisted that we process the snakes, but the young stud gave us the slip. The poor old guy took the brunt of the punishment in this battle. He turned out to be CRAT #40, first processed in March of 2003. We have encountered him several times before.

The Peach's suggestion that we finish the write up on "Tracy" was met with stiff resistance. The bitching and moaning on the scribe's part was legendary. But thank goodness, the scribe listened to reason. It was REALLY hot!

We can't prove it, but it is likely that "Tracy" was the cause of the fight. She is in the hackberry roughly 3 meters to the left of the first two photos.

There were also many other great events that happened this past week. Hopefully, I can get out another report soon. For now, Yehaw! Life is good.

This here is roger repp signing off from sunny and HOT Southern Arizona, where the snakes are strong, the lizards are handsome, and the turtles are barely average.

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