Saturday, December 8, 2012

Suizo Report -- 1,834

I find myself in the midst of my own man-made purgatory. We speak of going through my notes and assembling data. Since the year 2000, I find that I have logged over 20,000 lizards. That number seems unbelievable.  But I did something today that makes this number seem trivial by comparison.

I decided to count vehicles on my way to work this morning. This nearly got me killed--twice. So let me pass on some important safety tips to you all. Don't tug on Superman's cape, don't piss in the wind, and don't EVER count vehicles on your way to work.

My daily commute is 25 miles in. I did my counting between 0630 and 0700. I only counted the cars that were coming at me. This despite the fact that the heaviest traffic was going my way.

And how many vehicles did I count? See the number in the subject box.
That's right: One thousand
eight hundred and thirty four. We can easily double that, because as already stated, I didn't count the cars going my way. And it wasn't even close to rush hour yet!

We can conservatively say that 4 thousand people were doing the same thing as I, within a half-hour time span. In five days of driving one way, 1/2 hour per day, I equal my lizard counts over the past 12 years. 2.5 hours driving = 20,000 people. Over 10,000 hours of field work = 20,000 lizards.

I'm a LOT more comfortable with my lizard count now............

As you local herpers know, we're being basted by above average temperatures of late. Surprisingly, the D'backs and tigers all went to their hibernacula a couple of weeks early, and haven't done anything to speak of since.

Not so with the black-tailed rattlesnakes. Most continued to move throughout November, and two appear to be still actively hunting. We go to pictures for the rest of the story:

Image 1: Female CM17, "Ms. Gus," as viewed on 23 November 2012. She is posed under a dead prickly pear umbrella, a spindly hackberry and trixis above her. While this is a protective little cove, it is not a rock structure in any way, shape or form. There is, however, a cliff about 2 meters behind her, with many crevices and tortoise-like burrows for her to retreat.
Image 2: Here is CM17 again, on 4 December 2012. She has only moved about 15 cm from this photo to the previous. It is entirely possible that she is going in and out of one of the openings in the cliff behind her. It is also possible that she is just staying there--which sets up the scenario of a rattlesnake enduring VERY cold nights--close to freezing.

Image 3: Male CM11, "Gus." This image was also taken on 4 December. Note the rat scat around him. I do believe they are still hunting!
I wish we had stayed with black-tails back when we started with them in 2001. But I sure am glad that we finally saw the light, and started tracking them again. I am in awe of these desert molossus!

Changing subjects, snakes unhinging their jaws in order to eat large prey items is a common misconception. In the past, when I was asked about this myth, I was never able to explain it all properly.

Harry Greene was recently filmed explaining the "how" of it all when it comes to feeding snakes. The film is only 8 minutes long, and I HIGHLY recommend that you take the time to watch it. The way he works the kids in this film is exemplary, and the way those kids worked together to bring Harry's lesson to light at the end of it all is downright hysterical!

Click on the link below, and see for yourself. Nice work, Harry!

Best to all, roger

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