Madrean Sky Islands
Santa Rita Mountains, Arizona

The Santa Rita Mountains of Pima County, southern Arizona, form part of the Coronado National Forest. The highest point is Mt Wrightson, 9,453 feet (2,881 m) above sea level. The range is located some 40 miles (65 km) south of Tucson. The Santa Ritas merge into the Patagonian Mountains of Santa Cruz County, Arizona, to the southeast.

Bob, Tell and I drove into the Santa Rita Mountains with directions from Frank Retes as to where to find some of his rock rattlesnake sites. We left the car and walked quitely in suitable habitat but the only snakes we managed to find were a young Western black-necked gartersnake (Thamnophis cyrtopsis cyrtopsis) in a shallow creek, and a Patchnose snake (Salvadora sp) which shot across the road and managed to stay ahead of Bob when he bailed out in pursuit. We never did determine whether it was an Eastern patchnose (S.grahamiae) or a Western patchnose (S.hexalepis) both of which occur in the area.

Bob and Tell armed with cameras Tell searching likely habitat
A shallow mountain creek produced...
Juvenile Western black-necked gartersnake, Thamnophis cyrtopsis cyrtopsis


We drove back to Sonoita to Sonoita to meet Frank and his field colleague Tyler. We would venture into the Huachuca Mountains to look for ridgenose rattlesnakes and return to the Santa Ritas later in the evening.

When we returned to the Santa Ritas with Frank he took us to a site not far from where we had earlier found the gartersnake.

An intensive search of the boulders in the creek resulted in his finding and photographing three Banded rock rattlesnakes (Crotalus lepidus klauberi).

Banded rock rattlesnake, Crotalus lepidus lepidus

It was a successful field outing and Frank took his shirt off to celebrate before we drove back to Tucson is the early hours of the morning.

Successful night's herping
(back l-r) Mark, Tyler, Frank, (front l-r) Bob, Tell