ARIZONA, NEW MEXICO & TEXAS 2011

SOUTHWESTERN USA
HERP TRIP


Madrean Sky Islands
Huachuca Mountains
, Arizona

Like the Chiricahua Mountains to the east, the Huachuca Mountains of Cochise County, southern Arizona, also form part of the Coronado National Forest. The highest point is Miller Peak, 9,466 feet (2,885 m) above sea level. The range is located some 70 miles (110 km) south of Tucson.

Staten Island Zoo, Curator of Reptiles, Carl Kauffeld made this area famous with the chapter "Huachuca Heaven", in his book Snakes and Snake Keeping (Hanover House, 1957). Back when he visited the Huachucas, in the early 1940s, it was legal to collect reptiles but today some species are totally protected from collection and even common species have quotas and require a 'hunting licence' issued by the State of Arizona. Still, I would not mind betting a well-thumbed copy of 'Kauffeld' may be found in the glove compartment of many herper's cars out on the roads of southern Arizona

After finding only the gartersnake in the Santa Ritas we drove back to Sonoita to meet up with Frank and his field colleague Tyler who were coming down from Tucson.

We then set off back into Cochise County and the Huachucas to look for ridgenose rattlesnakes.

Tell in Cochise County, Arizona

After searching several of his sites we found another Western black-necked gartersnake (Thamnophis cyrtopsis cyrtopsis)

Ideal habitat, but no snakes
Night begins to fall as we search a drying rocky creek bed
Juvenile Western black-necked gartersnake, Thamnophis cyrtopsis cyrtopsis

...and Frank found an Arizona ridgenose rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi willardi).

Arizona ridgenose rattlesnake, Crotalus willardi willardi

In a shallow pool Bob found a horsehair worm, a member of the Nematomorpha, a curous free-living stage of a locust parasite which I have seen previously in Timor-Leste, but obviously a different species.

Horsehair worm, Nematomorpha

Next we returned to Sonoita and drove back into the Santa Rita Mountains to look for Banded rock rattlesnakes (Crotalus lepidus klauberi).