ARIZONA, NEW MEXICO & TEXAS 2011

SOUTHWESTERN USA
HERP TRIP


 

The Chiricahua Mountain Event Center & Lodge
in the early morning from across the road

The night of the barbeque most of us stayed at the Chiricahua Mountain Event Center and Lodge, less than a mile north of the Desert Museum. Very confortable with several suites containing bunk-beds, single beds, a dining areas, lounge areas and bathrooms, this facility, owned by Bob and Sheri, in an excellent base for exploring the local herpetological habitats.

The Chiricahua Mountains in the early morning photographed from across the road from the Chiricahua Mountain Lodge,
but not without incident (see below)

The following morning I went out early to photograph the stunning view as the sun fell across the Chiricahuas. I was armed with my camera and wearing sandals and shorts. I walked across the road from the lodge and through the dew-wet grass of the roadside verge to reach the fence-line, so I could frame out the fence itself and a nearby telegraph pole. As I stepped through the grass I looked down, and it was a good job that I did because lying coiled where I would have stepped was an adult Northern Mojave rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus). Not having a macro-lens fitted I did not think to photograph it is situ, and not carrying a snake hook or tongs I was not ideally equiped to capture the snake, so carefully I pinned its head with the base of my Canon 7D camera, picked it up and walked back to the lodge to find somewhere safe to put the snake.

I then returned to the fence-line and took a series of photographs to build up the panorama above.

Walking through the grass to take the panoramic photographs, mouse over to view the spot where I found the rattlesnake Mojave rattlesnake researcher Joe Banashek was very pleased to examine my rattler
Northern Mojave rattlesnake, Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus,
on the flagstones outside the lodge shortly after captive
Northern Mojave rattlesnake, Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus,
more controlled photographs taken later of the same specimen
Northern Mojave rattlesnake, Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus,
and of a neonate captured by Joe the night before, note the single button rattle

The capture of the Mojave rattlesnake was quite opportune as staying in one of the other suites was Joe Banashek, a Californian researcher studying that very subspecies. He and his colleagues had been out on the road the night before and captured a neonate Mojave rattler. He was very pleased to have access to the adult that I had just obtained.

A quote from Manny Rubio (2010) Rattlesnakes of the United States and Canada. pub. by ECO (p.221):

"Venomologists have shown that Mohave Rattlesnakes are comprised of two groups,
with diferent ranges and venom comprised of dissimilar compenents and toxicity.
Type B is dangerous, comprised almost entirely of hemotoxic factions,
but type A is almost surely lethal; it has a very high percentage of
"Mohave toxin" (powerful neurotoxic properties) and varying amounts of hemotoxic factions.
Type A is claimed to be ten times more toxic than the venom of any other pitviper in the United States."

The Mojave rattlesnakes of the Portal-Rodeo area of Arizona and New Mexico belong to the type A group. I was very relieved I had bothered to look where I was stepping in my sandals that morning.