Showing posts with label Arizona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arizona. Show all posts

Friday, November 4, 2011

Suizo Report -- Atrox Action

Howdy Herpers,                                                               3 November 2011

With the active season drawing to a close, the time we will actually see and photograph our animals in action is growing short. Rather than going into long stories about what you are seeing, we will let the pictures do the talking.

Subject numbers and dates are on each .jpg

Image 1-3: 22 October 2011, CRAT #121 as viewed prowling outside Atrox Den # 4 (AD4). We spooked her, and she made a beeline for the usual crevice entrance. AD4 has been heavily involved in our study since 2001.

Image 4-5: 29 October 2011: CRAT # 121 again. Just because she went into a known den didn't mean that she was going to stay. On this day, she was roughly 70 meters south of  AD4.

Image 6 and 7: 22 Oct 2011: We FINALLY got a decent visual of new CRAT #131. She was almost all the way up the Southwestern flanks of Suizo Mountains proper. She has since come all the way back down. It will be interesting to see where she winds up for the winter.

Image 8: 15 October 2011: This unmarked big male was dogging our female CRAT # 87 for several days. She was always in hiding when he was around.

Image 9 and 10: 22 October 2011: The unmarked male stayed with CRAT #87--right into AD7. The two atrox in  these photos were just outside the den itself. The big boy and #87 were inside the crevice. My last visit to AD7 was on 29 October 2011. The big male, CRAT #87, and one other unknown CRAT were jammed into a cluster of coils. A  lone female was  viewed  above them. I expect that these snakes are all there to stay, with more due any minute.

Image 10 courtesy of Hans-Werner Herrmann

We hope to get a few more above ground shots soon. And we have some good stuff to share on our other subjects as well.

Best to all, roger

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Suzio Report - Elgaria, etc

Howdy Herpers, 6 July 2011

Just when we all thought we were safe from the scourge of Elgaria, one more tidbit came in. Even though it was uttered that only God himself would earn a paragraph on the subject, Dave Barker rang in. That's close enough for me!

"About halfway up (the arroyo Dave was following) , we found this little hatchling Elgaria, and it ran into a little mud tunnel to escape us. My companion wanted that lizard and excavated the tunnel until it opened up into a soft-ball-sized cavity where there was a guarding adult female Elgaria, and, if my memory serves me, something like seven newly hatched babies and eight about-to-hatch eggs."

How about that! Mom hanging with kids. Thanks to Rick Shine and a seemingly endless source of funding, the Aussies are kicking our a$ with their lizard studies. While it's true that they have some very cool lizards over there, let us not forget that ours are WAY above average. (And we don't even know how much above average they may be.)

Anybody else on Elgaria? Go ahead--make my day..........

Thanks to all of you for your comments about Bcc. The unanimous consensus was that a "reply all" only gets you to me. We even ran a test case to see if that was true. If any of you heard from my friend Natalie, let me know. Thanks.

As most of you have heard, the summer rains have started moving in to the area. Our plot actually received a light rain on 3 July, and 4 and 5 July produced some gully washers in various parts of Tucson. My house seems to have some sort of force field that repels rain, for all 3 storms came roaring up to the place, stopped cold, and dissipated. While anything can still happen, I expect that the fires are behind us now.

What with all the excitement about Big Windies and Black Velvet, the Suizo Reports have been somewhat devoid of the Suizos of late. I'll try to bring us back to that with this report. The truth is, there hasn't been much to talk about. Since May, we have mostly been writing up patches of ground that the herps are under. I have yet to see our Gila Monster "Farrah" surface active this year, but every three weeks or so, she somehow shifts to the nearest packrat midden 10 meters or so away. I have only seen our tiger rattlesnake "Gracie" up twice this year, and one of these times was in January! Our other tiger "Zona" has also only been out of shelter once. Gracie has not moved in nearly a month, and remained hidden the whole time. One small area of Iron Mine Hill has an abundance of plant life gaily festooned with the flagging from Zona. Each is about 5 meters away from the other. I have only found one new tiger rattlesnake this year, and that was one in a crevice in January!

Other harbingers of the dryness and heat are as follows: I've yet to see my first leopard lizard for 2011. That's unheard of. Only two desert iguanas thus far--both of those in urban neighborhoods. Only 3 regal horned lizards, one of which was DOR. Not good! By early April of this year, I had racked up 19 different Gila Monsters. I have not found a single one since! And May is the alleged "Gila Monster month." The numbers on common lizards are abysmal.

June brought to Tucson a dry streak that lasted 81 days total. It was the seventh warmest June on record. And the fires only added to our misery.

I think we are at the point where we can let some images do the rest of the talking.

Pic 1 (below): It's not all bad on our little hill. We even have a geological replica of the Dark Continent there!

Pic 2: The Twin Saguaro GOAG burrow. (Although I guess Sonoran desert tortoises have now been officially been reclassified as Gopherus morafkaii¸ so now they're all GOMO. GREAT! Now I get to re-designate all 10,000 of my images, not to mention updating 500 pages of field notes. But GOMO is kind of cool, no?)

Ahem. Getting back to where we were. The Twin Saguaro GOMO burrow has been occupied by one of them there GOMO things every winter since 2002. See Pic 3.

Pic 03: This is GOMO the magnificent. He moved into the burrow in November 2010, and did not clear out until June 18, 2011. This is another sign of dry times. He normally egresses in early March.

Pic 4: CRAT # 121, Tracy, as viewed on 15 May 2011.

Pic 5: Tracy again, same day, different angle. Note the open area surrounding her.

Pic 6: Tracy again, 12 June 2011. If I had backed off a little further with the camera, this would have been the impossible "Where's Waldo" shot.

Pic 7: Tracy again, 25 June 2011. This one WILL be a "Where's Waldo" shot in the future. It was her, not me, that broke the funnel spider webbing above her.

Pic 8: CRAT #131, 15 May 2011. This is our newest female, and is looking fat and sassy, like she might be pregnant.

Pic 9: CRAT #131 again. Sigh. She was in this posture on 21 May, and did not seem to have moved a muscle 24 hours later. On 28 May, it was noted that she had moved over 300 meters, and entered a badger burrow. We have not seen her since, and she has remained in that badger hole. This is yet another indicator that all was not well this spring. While there is still hope, we're pretty sure she is dead. And we are getting mighty discouraged.............

Pic 10: We may be discouraged, but we won't be ending on a sour note. One of the two living regal horned lizards seen this year. Both have been on our plot, and neither was found by me. Both have been juveniles. We can thank Jeff Smith for this one. Thanks Jeff! 22 May 2011.

Pic 11: We're going to get off track a bit. This is an image of a Texas Horned Lizard found near Willcox AZ on 2 July 2011. Pretty little rascals, aren't they?

Pic 12: Let's make it an even dozen. I am willing to be corrected, but I believe this is a young Black Hawk. Its parents were circling above me as I took the image, and they were screaming their displeasure. Check out its "Count Yorga" features. Magnificent in its ugliness--no?

That's about all that is fit to spit for now. I hope that our rainy season will be a good one. Quite a few of you will be out here in a couple weeks to see for yourselves how things are fairing. Keep your finger crossed, and keep up with the rain dances!

Best to all, roger

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Roger Repp's Suzio Report, May

1 and 2 May, 2011

Howdy Herpers,

We first discuss 30 April. When the guide set this trip up, it was burned in his brain that it was to be all about Arizona Black Rattlesnakes. I did NOT bring this group together to go after Mountain Kingsnakes (AKA
"pyros") in late April. One would have an easier time catching a fart and painting it green than finding a pyro during one of the direst springs on record. Be that as it may, a mutiny in the ranks ensued, and off we went on
an ill conceived and very poorly executed adventure to find pyros. We were rewarded for this effort by finding a few tree lizards and a flock of wild turkeys. The latter was greater in size than the party who witnessed them, and smarter as well.

Lift lid, deposit day, flush toilet. Thus endeth the pyro report. Let  be said, let it be done  with, amen.

And thus it came to pass that the best-planned part of the journey began. We had rented a guest house in a place that is about as far away from beer and other lesser essentials that one can get. Hence, a shopping trip
was in order, a list was created, and a Walmart was assailed. And then we were slugging our way eastward, to a place where birdies sing, bears frolic, and the ground can be littered with our quarry--which thankfully was NOT pyros.

The last possible gas stop to our destination was in the town of Willcox.Upon stepping out of our vehicles, gusting winds laced with arctic undertones caused erect nippleage upon our chests. My countenance fell right off  my visage, and was subsequently ground into the pavement--where it remains embedded to this day. In short, the weather was going to screw us for the last three days of this adventure. The forecast was a portent of doom: windy, cold, and not a chance in heaven or hell for us to score. An arctic blast in May? Who'd have thunk it?

We had no choice but to continue on. If nothing else, we were heading for one of the most scenically fantastic places in Arizona. That, along with  food fit for kings, comfortable lodging, and plenty of beer (or so we thought) would have to be enough for the likes of us. The long road in was supposed to produce hognose snakes, Gila Monsters, and box turtles as consolation prizes. It of course produced nothing. NOTHING would be out cruising in this type of weather.

But we did get a big lift upon arriving at the guest house. It was a thing of beauty, and we will let the pictures show the rest in that regard. Once we were all settled in, we decided upon a rocket run to our herping spot to kick around a bit. And so, Little White carried Gery, Mike and I to our destination. Upon arriving there, we amused ourselves by watching a pair of tree lizards in courtship. Eventually, they fell off their tree and died of old age. This while we awaited the arrival of Great White--which was supposed to be following right behind us.

Two forevers later, Great White did arrive. Dave, Ralph and Steve had encountered a bear enroute, and decided that chasing that bear around was going to be more fun than herping. They were correct with
that assumption, because our first attempt to herp the canyon was a bust. If we were seeking tree lizards, we would have been happy, for we saw over 100 of them. Apparently their activities are not affected by gale force frigid blasts in May.

There was little left to do but go back to the guest house, cook an absolute knock out feast, and drink a few beers. That night, three of us slept in the screened-in porch that the guest house afforded. We awoke to a 4 degree C (39 F) morning. As if the cold wasn't enough of a bad news scenario, one of those frolicking bears must have let itself into the house, and helped itself to our beer cooler. We started the morning before with five 12-packs--60 brave soldiers carrying their own bodily fluids. This the morning of 2 May, there were only eight soldiers left. All this drought must have left those poor local bears in a thirsty state.

Upon discovering that these crafty bears had drank most of our beer, a few members of our party came to the erroneous and haughty decision that we didn't need any more beer. We would just tighten our belts and do the next two days without. But the guide foresaw that a trip to Safford would be transpiring that afternoon. After all, that is what guides are for.

I think we're now to the point where we can let the images do the talking. Al pictures except the last come from Steve Barten.

Pic 01: Little White leading the charge into the maw of black velvet land.

Pic 02: The guesthouse, with Great White and Little White in the foreground

Pic 03: The view outside the guest house.

Pic 04: The track of the bear that Steve, Ralph and Dave chased around. They probably pissed him off, and he was probably the one who drank all our beer.

Pic 05: Herping in the canyon.

Pic 06: At the last possible second in the day, Steve saved the day by finding this cerberus as photographed in situ. Hallelujah!

Pic 07: A posed photo of the snake in pic 06.

Between pics 07 and the remaining two, Mike and I headed to Safford  for a beer run. It was a delightful drive, but completely devoid of herps. Meanwhile, the other four continued their efforts, and

Pic 08: Black-necked Gartersnake found by Dave

Pic 09: S-h-h-h-h guys. A Western Lyresnake found by Steve.

We now had just one more day left. It might have been good, and it might have been bad.

So who did come out of that door--the lady, or the tiger?

We'll let you know that later this week.

Best to all, roger

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Roger Repp & Crotalus cerberus

Howdy Herpers,

On 16 April, John Slone escorted me to some Arizona black rattlesnake (Crotalus cerberus) dens that Melissa Amarello, Jeff Smith and he are studying. As a few of you on this list are also aware of the place, allow me to first reassure you that your secret is safe with me. Truth be told, I got lost while I was out there. I still don't have a clue where I was. Pull out my nails--I'll never tell--because I can't! And I intend to keep my ignorance intact. It's better that way. The usual standard for a scientific study of the sort that the dynamic trio is performing is to wade crotch deep into the snakes, start grabbing as many as you can, draw some blood,
slap some transmitters and PIT tags into the animals, and then let everybody go at the place you caught them. You then expect that there was no herpetological yin and yang to your actions, and that nothing will change as a result.

Well, as one who has done way more than his share of den mucking, I can assure you that if you use this method of study you change the dynamics of that den. Maybe not forever, but certainly for longer than your study will last. The differences may be subtle, and you can slant your data and your thinking to say "we didn't change nuthin," but you are truly fooling yourself if you believe that.
What my three friends are trying to do is commendable. They are keeping their hands off the snakes at these dens. They are trying to gather information about social interactions that most scientists will likely refuse to believe. In many ways, science is the worst enemy of promoting what might be the most misunderstood animal on this planet. Some of the things these three have seen and documented I have seen in other places. When I bring these observations up, I am sometimes ridiculed. I do hope that when the outcome of their study is gathered, people will receive their interpretations graciously. I stand by my opinion that rattlesnakes are far more than wind up toys of nature, hard wired by instinct to react mechanically to physiological queues. I cut steel for a living--so I can do that. Nobody can tell me how to think, especially people who have never attempted to watch closely without interrupting what they see by using the conventional methods of science.

I can already hear half of this audience cheering. They are the half that the other half would call "amateurs." And I can also already feel the breeze of the other half prodigiously shaking their heads from side-to-side. It's okay guys and gals, I don't mind being called an amateur. And I will listen to you even when you say things that I believe are wrong.

The problem with natural history observations is that they are often open to a word that I already used: "interpretation." My answer to that is that if we who are constantly on the ground interpret something, who is in the better position to do so?

Well, the onus of the people involved in the study I'm describing is that they not only intend to interpret what they see. They also hope to prove it. They are trying to do that with good camera work, as well as performing the hard science on the snakes AFTER they disperse from the dens. This is a tough job, but it is one they are equal to.

Enough! Time for some pics, which I will interpret with something that ends in a question mark each time. Those of you who have closed minds, just call it all speculation. 

Pic 1: Has nothing to do with what we're talking about. This is a striped whipsnake wrapped around a small Arizona Black (hereafter: cerb.) Whipsnakes can be found denning with several species of rattlers out this way, and they do not appear to be eating the rattlers. At least, not at the dens.
Pics 2 and 3: A male cerb hanging out of a den they call "Caprock Den" (for obvious reasons). Take a look at pic 3--see the trees in the background? We're going around to that side of Caprock for the next pics.

Pics 4 and 5: This female was oblivious to us--which is another relic of hands off herping. Has she been subjected to the normal rigors of science, she would have bolted. What's that she is looking at? Could it possibly be her children?

Pics 6 and 7: A female in retreat back to her brood? Pic 7 = one of two possible offspring emerging from beneath a boulder where the adult is heading.
Pics 8 and 9: A couple more adults basking. I am told that both places often have neonates scattered about nearby. It could be these moms are just early risers, and the kids are still under the boulders.

Pics 10 and 11: Some close ups of the neonates in pics 4 and 5. Note the difference in pattern between the young and the adults.

I would like to end this report with encouragement to the trio for what they're trying to accomplish. Stick to your guns guys! If it were easy, somebody else would have already don it.

I'm going to send this--before I change my mind.

Best to all, roger

More Adventures With Roger in March

Howdy Herpers,
It's the moment we've all been waiting for. Time to put March 2011 to bed for good.

Pics 1-3: Images by John Murphy. At the end of the day on March 12, we put a beer in our hand and decided to wander over to AD7 on Iron Mine Hill. Thus, we arrived unprepared to snag this PERFECT female atrox for a transmitter. While there are always benefits to leaving a female unmolested at a den, I still hate myself every morning for letting this one go.

Thanks for the photos John--and your MOST excellent company this day.

Pic 4: One of five Smith's Black-headed snakes encountered by John and I on 12 March

Pic 5: Female Tiger #6, Gracie. While the photo is terrible, it was taken under near impossible conditions. She hung in this crevice for nearly a month, before moving all the way down the slope of our hill. Photo taken13 March.

Pic 6: Likely the last "in situ" image to be created of CRAT #122, an AD7 male who we have since removed from the study. (That is, we removed his transmitter. He's back home now, and still has the PIT tag. We may see him again someday!) 13 March

Pic 7: Female CRTI #8, "Zona." She had moved about 3m from her hibernaculum the day this image was taken, which was 27 March. She did not seem to move muscle when we saw her in the exact spot again on 2 April. On 3 April, she plunged to the bottom of her hill, and is now in the same crevice as she occupied last year at this time.

Pic 8: A smoking young AD4 male atrox found by John Murphy and I on 12 March.
This was another reason to hate myself in the morning. We left him as we found him.
I hope that you will all join me in conveying silent well-wishes to my friend Peter Lawrence from the UK. He is a stoic herper in his own right, and a devoted friend of our beloved Danny Brower, who recently passed away. Peter is going in for a brain tumor surgery soon. As I'm sure that his head is at least his second-most favored organ, we can only imagine his angst. Peter--you need to hang in there so you can catch the next report.

We speak of balls-out-banzai black velvet. We got moms, dads and babies all loving life together.Until then, all of you, live forever!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Roger Repps Suizo Report - March Madness, Part 2

Howdy Herpers,
Since Melissa Amarello is so into desert tortoises, I thought I'd just stick with that theme for this report. While I saw quite few of the loveable herp cows this year, I really didn't see much basking behavior. This because it has been a very dry spring. I am refraining from sending images of tortoises in burrows, because these kinds of shots are usually boring. A cowpie under a boulder would generate similar excitement. I only have 3 images that are worth sharing. 

Pic 1: 19 March, 2011. This is one of three tortoises thought to share in the atrox den that we call "Hilltop." The other two were monster males, that cleared out before I could get a photo.

This one is good sized, (~250mm MCL) old female. Note that she has been feeding.

Pic 2: 10 April 2011. The same tortoise as pic 1, only viewed out and about. She was roughly 20 meters away from Hilltop Den. I found her when I went back to photo the two big males found in the hole on 3 April of 2011. Much to my chagrin, the two big males had cleared out, and I couldn't find them out.

Pic 3: Dale DeNardo and company might recognize this tortoise as the one that denned on Iron Mine Hill right below the communal monster hole. This will likely be the best photo I get this spring. This image was taken 26 March. She was gone the next day.
Two of the denning tortoises found on Iron Mine Hill this winter are still in their burrows. This is yet another sign of dry times.

Best to all, roger

Friday, April 15, 2011

Roger Repp's Suzio Report, March, Part 1

Buenos Howdy Herpers,
Several of you have checked in to ask the "what up" of the reports lately. Truth be told, I've been so overwhelmed with what we're finding that I can't begin to report it all. It has been a glorious winter/spring.
The real story is the Gila Monsters. To date, I have seen 18 different Gilas thus far this year. To put that in perspective, last year was also a very good year, and I only racked up 16. I have yet to do a head count on the atrox, but I expect that I'm also kicking a$ with these.

The best day of the year thus far was 3 March. Jeff Smith and I started the day out with plans to go to sweet spots, but we got distracted, and found even better sweet spots. When the day was over, we observed 6 Gila Monsters, 5 of which were new.
I have NEVER seen five new Gila Monsters in day! 3 is the best I've done, albeit several times. We also observed 17 atrox, a lyresnake, two chuckwallas, a tortoise and a glossy snake that Jeff flipped a piece of tin sheet to find. 
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, in 2001 The Peach and I began the Schuett/Repp Suizo Mountain study with a den we call Atrox Den #1 (AD1). Through the years, the den died out--which I'm seeing is more than a relic of hands-on herping. Dens that I've never touched have died out before my eyes, only to spring back to life a couple years later. 
I think it's all a matter of having a female in the hole. Build a den with a girl in it, and the boys will come (literally and figuratively). 
To make a long story short, AD1 is coming back. 
For now, we'll throw a few pics out, and put together another report in a week or so. 
Pic 1: Spectacular in its remoteness, Gila Knob is a new place that Jeff, Melissa Amarello and I are watching.
Pic 2: The glossy snake that Jeff found on 3 March Photo by Jeff Smith
Pic 3: A new atrox den containing five atrox was found on 3 March. Three of the five can be seen in this photo. Unbeknownst to me at the time, there were two MONSTER tortoises in the hole behind these guys.
Pic 4: The same den 3 days later. Photo by Jeff Smith
Pic 5: A young atrox viewed at a den site on 3 March. It is rare to see youngsters occupying a denning situation.
Pic 6: A rerun. In the crevice just downslope from pic 5, a Gila and another young atrox were observed haniging out together. Jeff found both snakes together on his 6 March visit
Pic 7: The den comes back! Picture of a male atrox basking at AD1, 22 March 2010.
Pic 8: Obviously the same male viewed as last picture, 13 March 2011. On 12 March, John Murphy and I saw three males out here--the first time I've seen multiple snakes here since 2006. Welcome back AD1!
Pic 9: Another den to suddenly spring back to life on our little hill is AD8. On 2 April, Dale Denardo and I, along with others, found five atrox. The next day, Natalie Rowe, Gordon Campbell and I found this pair hooked up there.
With the next report, we'll show some more of these Gilas I'm talking about, as well as some drop dead gorgeous tortoise images.
This is not all that is fit to spit, but it will have to do for now.
Best to all, roger

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Scutulatus from Cochise County, AZ

The Mojave Rattlesnake, Crotalus scutulatus. JCM
Mojave rattlesnakes (Crotalus scutulatus) in Arizona have two quite different kinds of venom. The venom of population A (venom A) contains the toxin known as ‘Mojave toxin’ and it lacks hemorrhagic and specific proteolytic activities- instead it acts on the nervous system. Population B (venom B) does not contain Mojave toxin but instead produces hemorrhagic and proteolytic activities, acting on blood and blood vessels. This situation has been known since at least 1988. Glenn and Straight (1988) examined the venom of 15 Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus from the regions between the venom A and venom B populations in Arizona for the presence of Mojave toxin Seven of the venoms contained both the Mojave toxin of venom A and the proteolytic and hemorrhagic activities of venom B. The i.p. LD50 values of the A+B venoms were 0.4–2.6 mg/kg, compared to 0.2–0.5 mg/kg for venom A individuals and 2.1–5.3 mg/kg for the venom B individuals.Thus, populations with the A+B venom type are almost twice as venomous (at least to mice) as snakes with venom A or B types. Their results suggested an intergrade zone exists between the two venom types which arcs around the western and southern regions of the venom B population. Within these regions, three major venom types (A, B and A+B) can occur in Crotalus s. scutulatus. Thus, the reason for the following article. Crotalus scutulatus is most likely the most dangerous North American rattlesnake.

Glenn, JL and Straight, RC. 1988. Intergradation of two different venom populations of the Mojave rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus) in Arizona. Toxicon 27, 411-418.

Cochise County's rattlesnakes even deadlier than most
Carly Kennedy
Arizona-Sonora News Service

Like humans, rattlesnakes like the outdoors this time of the year.

And the Mojave rattlesnake that's commonly found in Cochise County might be more deadly than any rattler in any other area of Arizona.

Emergency room doctors in Tucson and Sierra Vista have noticed that patients who suffer from a Cochise County Mojave rattlesnake bite do respond well to the anti-venom, but they often come back to the hospital complaining of the same symptoms.

Herpetologists have gathered from these cases that the Mojave rattlesnakes in Cochise County have venom that is more potent than that from Mojaves in other counties, said Brian Gill, owner of the Tombstone Reptile Exhibit.

One of the supporting theories behind this confusing trend has to do with the type of food the Cochise Mojave eats.

Mojaves typically eat rodents, but in Cochise County there aren't as many rodents available, and so the rattlesnakes in the region have grown accustomed to eating snacks that are more accessible, such as lizards and geckos, Gill said.

"This might be converting the toxins in their body into a more potent toxin," he added.

The Mojave rattlers are one of only four snakes in Arizona that have venom that is a neurotoxin. Upon entering the human body, the toxin starts attacking the nervous system and can ultimately lead to cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest.

Even with its powerful venom, the Mojave is not the most common species in the county, said Tombstone animal control officer James Everetts. He said the most prevalent species of rattler is the Western diamondback.

The diamondback rattlesnake has venom that is a hemotoxin, which affects the surrounding tissue of the bitten area. After the bite has occurred, the hemotoxin starts eating away tissue and causes a "burning" sensation, said Everetts, who has been bitten three times.

"It's like touching an open flame, but you can feel that pain inside your body," he said.

Rattlesnake season spans throughout early spring well into the summer months, seeing its height in May and June, which is the mating season, Gill said.

Experts warn to avoid the snakes altogether, especially during their midday sunning on nearby rocks. "As the snake's energy level increases, so does its aggression," Gill said.

At night, the snakes migrate to roadways because the asphalt acts as a source of warmth. Nighttime serves as their hunting time, so they can be aggressive and should be avoided, Gill said.

During snake season Tombstone Animal Control receives plenty of calls, but those tend to come in spurts as the rattlesnakes migrate in search of food and water. During runs of hotter weather, there will be an average of two calls a week, Everetts said.

"They spread out everywhere to find food and water, so I can go weeks without hearing of any sightings," he added.  Everetts warned victims of a diamondback strike not to place ice or heat on the infected area.

"Ice will keep the hemotoxin centralized, and it will eat away at the surrounding tissue," he said. "And heat will spread the poison too quickly." The best thing a rattlesnake bite victim can do immediately is wash the area with antibacterial soap, circle the marks the snake has made and write down the approximate time of the bite, Everetts said.

"When you get to the hospital, this allows the physicians to judge the severity of the swelling and how fast the poison is moving through the system."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Roger Repps Suizo Report - Stuck Up atrox Part 2

Howdy Herpers,
My good friend Melissa Amarello, AKA  "Cerbermiss," has a most excellent website constructed around her work with Arizona Black Rattlesnakes. Like John Murphy, she has been quietly posting these Suizo Reports.
Dudes and dudesses, I'm getting syndicated.  It's about time! I've been told by many of you that I'm not doing these reports right. EWE want text under the pictures, because EWE get confused. Well, EYE like sending attachments, because they have the power of a real image behind them. Well, the way Melissa is doing it will no doubt please some of you. Which is to say, I AIN'T CHANGING WHAT EYE DO! In conjunction with her loving man Jeff Smith, and herptographer/naturalist extraordinare John Slone, Cerbermiss has built a killer website. The team is miles ahead of the competition (including me) when it comes to hands off documenting of snakes at the dens. Before you race ahead to my drivel, DO take the time to look at her stuff. To enjoy the "black velvet," click on the link below: Back to me, and the way I like doing things: There was a great deal of interest generated by a dead snake stuck in hole. This serves to demonstrate the level of this audience. Were they not fictional characters, we'd all be best friends with "Larry, my brother Darryl, and my other brother Darryl." Of all the comments to come in after the previous missive, I like "Sloner the Boner's" comment best: "Trapped to her death. Too bad she didn't have an arm to chew off. She might have been able to free herself, and get a book and movie deal out of it to boot!!!" John is a warped snake geek--I love it!

Getting back to the dead snake in the hole. As none of you will remember, we buried it on 13 February. And then, if I have the story right, SOMEBODY uncovered it on Friday, 25 February. This somebody
reports that she was a patient dead snake, as she was still there.  Then this somebody did NOT bury her again. So now, to bring us all up to speed, snake is alive on 9 February, snake is dead and buried on 13 February, snake is uncovered on 25 February, and left that way. (%^$$#@ i!t) What you don't know yet: fat, dumb and happy here shows up with digging implements on 27 February. Now, we'll rock with pictures.

Pic 1: Review. The last gasp of the snake, taken 13 Feb.

Pic 2: The stinky hole as found, surrounded by digging implements, 27 February. Note that the flat rock to the left of the hole is gone. (See pic 1).

Pic 3: The stinky hole close up. As the photo shows, no snake in the hole any more -- eh? Note the latticework of roots and flat rocks that forms around the tightest part of the opening. I could not claw into this hole with my bare hands--try as I did. The only tool that was effective was my rock hammer. It was obviously at this point in the hole where the snake got stuck. Most soil holes have a little ive--this one did not! Not even a millimeter.

My speculation is the snake entered some other hole, and tried to go out this one. Bad move! End of story.

It could be that the people who uncovered the snake on 25 February actually moved it then, but I don't really think that. My best guess is that one determined predator/scavenger sucked it out of that hole like a nasty noodle. Yummy............

Now, a few live scenes are in order.

Pic 4: a rerun from a previous report. February 2007, Hans-Werner Herrmann grabs a deep denning Gila Monster by the lips, and drags it out of the hole. See pic 5.

Pic 5: A new resident in the same Gila Hole as February 2007. This photo was taken on 13 February, 2011 when Brian Park and I checked the hole. It is roughly a 5 year old, ~100 mm MCL Tortoise. This Gila Hole started as a tortoise hole in 2005. Then, it became a Gila Hole. Now, it is back to being a tortoise hole.

Pic 6: Jeff Smith and I hit a slice of heaven on 25 February. The total score on herps encountered was staggering.
This tortoise clearly is not phased by the cholla spines that it is buried in.

Pic 7: The first basking atrox of the year for me. Note also the lack of respect for cholla on the part of the snake.

Pic 8: Lyresnake found by Jeff -- in a crevice where two chuckwallas were hanging together last year.

Pic 9: Image by my lovely wife Dianna. Taken from our driveway.  Safford Peak, NW Tucson Mountains, 27 February 2011.

The weather has since warmed up. Tomorrow will be the third day of 80 degrees. Mr. Smith is up and ready. I'll let you know what we find!

This here is roger repp, signing off from southern Arizona, where the turtles are strong, the snakes are handsome, and the lizards are WAY above average.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A New Report fron Roger Repp

Howdy Herpers,

The last report centered on chuckwallas. It was sent out one damn day too soon--for I got a much better picture of one of them the next day. Pic 1 is of a chuckwalla found just east of the Picacho Mountains on 4 December 2010, (note the juvenile tail pattern), and the second is of the one just above the dead  tortoise at Ragged Top. Both were very difficult photos to get.

The petroglyphs shown in pic 3 were found by my wife Dianna and I on her birthday. In all, we saw  round 50 boulders thusly decorated by the ancient ones. From what I saw on these rocks, these ancients ones were either well endowed--or at least fancied that they were.

Pic 4 is of one of TWO Gila Monsters in what I call the "Marco Polo" den. I now have enough characters on this animal to backtrack through all Suizo Monsters to see if we know him. But I have not yet done that. Past experience has taught us that whenever there are two in a den together, they are normally boy/girl. And the male is usually the one in front.

Pic 5 and 6: HESU Den Number 1, outside and inside the Gila hole. I still have not seen enough  of this monster to ascertain who he is, but I expect he is HS9--The Pilgrim. While I have yet  to see her, the signal plainly indicates that female HS13 "Farrah" is behind him. And The Pilgrim is acting
like there is something behind him--as he is visible with every visit this winter. They usually wiggle backwards at our approach, but he is staying put during all of our inept attempts to photo him. So, I'm saying this is pairing number 2 on our hill. This den has been utilized by several different monsters through the years, going back to our first study subject HS1, "Geronimo." He was captured in this hole in March 2001.

Pic 7: "The Monster of the Decade"--the Lazy M monster-still home on Hill 97. While I also suspect a pairing here, that is pure speculation. I have been watching this lair since November of 2000. In 2005, there were three monsters stacked like cordwood in the entrance way where you seeing Lazy M. Three is the most I've ever seen in one hole.

Pic 8: A photo of the alpha male Crotalus atrox in a den I call "ADO." (Atrox den # 0). It's a long story how it earned that number, so I will spare you that detail. But I found the place in 1998, and it had as many  as six atrox in it at its peak. By 2005, the den died, and stayed that way until 2010. I have counted five atrox in the hole, and expect that they are all still there--tucked behind the alpha male. "Hiding the girls" is a commonly observed behavior with atrox as well as Gila Monsters during the colder months.

Pic 9 and 10: The first time ever witnessed in over 20 years of herping Arizona, a tiger rattlesnake 100% out of crevice basking in January. Previously, I've seen them out like this every month except January. This is CT#6, "Gracie." I'm thinking I see a food bolus in her flank, but that could be a relic of something underneath her. It was suggested that she might be basking because she is pregnant. As she has given birth two consecutive years in a row now, that would be incredible! In the 15 minutes it took me to do her write up, her body temps increased dramatically. The temp near her coil was 40 C! (~104 degrees F)

Pic 11: The view from the Marco Polo HESU Den on our hill, looking south. What a view our mystery monster has--eh?

Best to all, roger

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Same Gila Monster, Same Hole, 10 Years Later

Roger Repp reports a story of site fidelity in the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum). Here is the story.

Many of you suffered through a THS presentation that I made back in July of 2010, and a few more of you suffered worse at an AHA presentation I did last week. During the course of the presentation, I showed a Gila Monster that I have been quietly watching the past several years.

I used the following characters to demonstrate that this has been the same monster year after year:

1. Butterfly (head)

2. Lazy M (~neck)

3. Donald Duck (duck-shaped marking looking up at lazy M)

4. 5 zits (grouping of 5 dots at the end of the lazy M)

5. Ohio (just behind 5 zits--note how Columbus has grown through the years)

We can add many more, like the thumb about to plunge into the east side of Ohio,and four more zits to the north, etc. Now a history lesson. On 26 November 2000, Bill Montgomery, Gordon Schuett and I found a Gila Monster community on a place we call Hill 97. We were able to grab two Gilas from one hole for a DNA sample. I took pic 1 on this day.I kept checking the holes we found this and other Gila Monsters in that day. They remained empty until December of 2004. Since that time, every year since, one or more Gila Monsters have been in the area. Last Friday, 26 November 2010, I went back to Hill 97. I found "Lazy M" again--exactly ten years to the day from the first sighting. I've heard a lot of people make claims of 20 plus years for wild Gilas in holes. Having seen what I've seen, I believe these claims. But proving them is damn hard to do!

Top photo: Gila Monster "Lazy M" 26 November 2000. Bottom photo: "Lazy M" 26 November 2010
Best to all, roger