Monday, February 17, 2014

Suizo Report--CM12 "Jerry" and CM17

02/17/13  Howdy Suizo List,

It has been so long since I've done a Suizo Report that I've forgotten how it's done. But we'll give it our best shot.

Probably less than half of this list will ever remember the days before digital photography. And if you DO remember, when was the last time you had your 35mm slides on a light table?

With me, it was two weeks ago. I was looking for a few images to scan for an upcoming presentation. What I was after were a few images of Gila Monsters and Tortoises from the Suizos. It so happens that with my 35mm slides for the Suizos, I also have Black-tailed Rattlesnakes, Lyresnakes, and people in that particular binder. Everything image in this binder is carefully labeled, and set up in such fashion that all the animals are grouped according to species, in chronological order.

On the first page of this binder, I about fell out of my chair when I looked at the third black-tailed rattlesnake we ever found on Iron Mine Hill. By golly, it was Jerry, AKA "CM12."  We  could make a long story out of  seeing  Jerry 12 years after  putting a transmitter  in him, but none of us has the kind of time that takes. We'll let the images do the talking for a minute:

Image 1, CM12, image taken 9 April 2000. Note the fact that he is an adult snake in this image. It is a shame his rattles are broken. But we can see that the first few segments are wide and straight. This is usually an indication of an older adult snake, but again, the broken string does not allow for that. My notes are pretty brief, they only indicate that a 36 inch long adult blacktail was found on NW Iron Mine Hill on this evening. (We did not process snakes back then).

Image 2, CM12, image taken 26 March 2012. This was the day after he was captured for a transmitter. This is very close to 12 years after the first encounter. Note how every pattern on the head is exactly identical 12 years later, not to mention the body pattern. I know that Jeff and Melissa will be on these first two images like scum on a pond--same snake, eh youse two? 8-)

Image 3, CM12, image taken by Marty Feldner, 15 February 2014. He's still going strong, nearly 14 years later.

So, how old is Jerry? 20 years? Sure--he could easily be 20. And he could be older than that. I'm always interested in hearing about how long snakes, as well as herps in general, can last in the wild. Feel free to lay any similar incidences on me.

The fourth image is of our female CM17, "Ms. Gus." Much to our dismay, her transmitter stopped working in early January. (Three months early). There is NOTHING more frustrating than a dead signal when you can actually see the animal--but can't get to it. She was wedged deep in a crevice at the time, crowbars and dynamite MAY have gotten her out--but not alive. All we could do is watch and wait, and hope we could find her out basking before egress sent her down the path of being lost forever. On the morning of 15 February, I noted that her rear flank was about 25mm deep in her crevice. She was close enough to possibly grab, but I decided to wait, and drag Marty back with me in the afternoon. This with the hope that the warm weather would cause her to come out further.

At 1600, Marty and I stood before her crevice again. While she did move out any further, neither did she back in. She was exactly as viewed earlier that morning.

There was a somewhat tense discussion that followed, the gist of which was if we tried to grab her and blew it, she would be long gone. If we made the grab, there was no turning back. If we had to break her in half getting her out with lawn-mower starting-like yanks--that is what we would do. Marty eased the situation be moving a small boulder that was blocking the forced egress that was intended. I hooked the tail out, Marty got the rear with tongs, and she just came right on out!

My last Suizo Report, ancient history ago, dealt with Gus and Ms. Gus. Having lost Gus to a predation event was bad enough. To lose Ms. Gus on account of a failed transmitter was almost a death knell to the study. We saw the pair mating, and we saw Ms. Gus have the kids. This is the year when we track Ms. Gus AFTER parturition. Will she drop kids again this year? Up until two days ago, we were not sure we would know that. And while anything can still happen between now and August, we at least can proceed with confidence that we have a fighting chance of finding out.

As the image shows, she has recovered nicely from her ordeal of last August.

Holohil still make the best transmitters out there. And they are very nice people to do business with. But there is no way they can ever feel our angst when the batteries die prematurely in their units. A new transmitter can never replace a lost child!

This here is Roger Repp, signing off from Southern Arizona, where the turtles are strong, the snakes are handsome, and the lizards are all above average.
Best to all, roger

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