Daryl Finds Carol!

A Tale of Two Trash Snakes Part 6

Read: A Tale of Two Trash Snakes Part 5

After a late night of surveilling wild snakes, I get outside mid-morning on the off-chance I can find one of our subjects sunning in the damp vegetation. With all the difficulty we’ve had in keeping up with them over the last several days, I’m genuinely surprised to find Daryl coiled in the sun not even a meter from where I left him many hours before.

I leave a video camera to record him while I prepare for another day of snake spycraft. I return to the post after about half an hour just as Daryl starts to move. After four minutes, I fail to notice he’s exited a clump of grass, and he slips away. Just as Daryl has looped over the ground in search of Carol, I now wander in tight circles, hoping to get a glimpse of Daryl without disturbing him. As I curse myself for losing him right under my nose, Melissa spots him much closer to the house. He’s moved well away from me and crossed a firebreak. Relieved, we follow him as he crisscrosses the yard and eventually makes his way all the way to the house.

Daryl, male Rock Rattlesnake, crawling next to concrete rattlesnake

Eventually he wraps around the yard to the water tank and picks up Carol’s scent once again. It takes him some time to get properly oriented on her trail, but he methodically picks his way back below the firebreak where the storm sent him reeling. From here, he wastes no time following Carol’s path down the hill and into the clump of grass where we lost her. He pushes past with little hesitation.

 

He moves along the slope now; he still appears to be on course, even though we don’t know where Carol has gone since last night. He intercepts a large downed log, and crawls underneath. I hustle to the opposite side and get a camera rolling just as he’s making contact with Carol!

 

Carol is coiled beside the log, but she lifts up her head as Daryl cautiously approaches. His tongue flicks continuously, sampling over the top of her body. As she lifts her tail from beneath her coil, he lunges forward, perhaps a way to dissuade her from departing. But that doesn’t seem to be her goal; in fact, quite the opposite. Carol holds her tail up high like a flag, telling Daryl that his long journey is over.

Soon after meeting, Daryl slowly coils atop Carol. After four days of searching, he may need a little a rest. Courtship can last days, and by “stacking” upon her, he can be sure where she is (and guard against interlopers).

For us, the meeting of these snakes is a satisfying end to this saga. The opportunity to observe nature’s best kept secrets comes but rarely, and so we are grateful for our good fortune. We only hope that this blog series does it justice!