A tribute to Jaydin

Jaydin, male black-tailed rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus), August 2011.

In August of 2011 we visited the Muleshoe preserve for the very first time. As we drove through the entry gate, we heard the telltale buzz of a rattlesnake moving in the underbrush beside the driveway. While this would normally be regarded as a warning alarm, we interpreted it as an auspicious sign. This hefty and handsome male black-tail would herald not just a new study site, but our eventual home.

One month later, when we officially began the study, we captured and implanted a radio transmitter into a black-tailed rattlesnake in Hot Springs Canyon, dubbed Jaydin by the volunteer that found him. When later comparing photographs of head patterns, we were tickled to see that Jaydin was the very same snake that greeted us a month before!

Since then, Jaydin has (almost) always been a treat to check up on. From climbing trees to courting females, he let us into his world like no other snake we’ve followed. With the summer of 2012 behind us, Jaydin was right where he was the year before, apparently headed toward the same rocky hilltop to spend the winter. Sadly, Jaydin never made it. On 25 October we found his predated body on a barren slope that would have afforded him little cover.

This post is the first of a series in tribute to Jaydin; he left us with no shortage of stories to share here.

The following video demonstrates Jaydin’s typical disregard for our watching him. It was recorded the afternoon of 31 July 2012 and we think he was scent-trailing a female because we later observed one nearby. Note how thoroughly and intently he tongue flicks during his search.

We miss Jaydin and we are grateful for all that he shared with us. For over a year he enriched our lives, and through these posts we hope he’ll enrich yours too.

melissa and jeff