Snake tracking update

Although we’ve briefly mentioned some of the rattlesnakes we’re tracking at Muleshoe this spring, we haven’t done a full update in a while. So here ya go.

Bane left his den in a hurry back in March. Although we suspect he shared his overwintering spot with several other snakes, we didn’t observe any of the social basking behavior we’ve observed at other dens. He headed straight for Hot Springs Wash and wasted no time getting to the Nature Trail, where he spent the next few weeks. Many visitors to Muleshoe got to see Bane this spring.

Guests admiring Bane

Last week, as if he knew the guest season was over, Bane headed back downstream near where my friend Michael and I tracked him last fall. Then a couple days later he was back on the Nature Trail – guess it’s the season for moving.

Bane, 15 June 2013
Bane, 6 May 2013

Cat was the second snake to emerge from her den and also wasted no time in leaving the area. Although we never saw them together, she shared her den with at least one juvenile Arizona black rattlesnake and a Sonoran whipsnake. She has been hanging out near the old horse barn and corrals ever since. For the most part, this has made her a very convenient snake to track (Snake Count attendees got to meet her as well as Bane). However, there are a ton of old metal pipes around the barn, that Cat loves to hide in, and which block her radio transmitter signal. There have been a few days that we’ve lost her, but she hadn’t actually moved, she was just hiding in a pipe.

Cat, 16 May 2013
Cat, 16 May 2013

Luna emerged from a den she shared with a western diamond-backed rattlesnake (and others?) fairly early, but stayed nearby until last week. We were beginning to wonder, if like the mothers-to-be at our other site*, she was going to stay and give birth there this summer. Nope. She moved down into Hot Springs Wash and found a nice little rock shelter to use while shedding her skin.

Luna, 1 June 2013
Luna, 1 June 2013

*We don’t know for sure that those other snakes never left their den/nest sites. There were sometimes weeks between our visits in the early summer, which was plenty of time for them to leave and come back. Also, we’re not sure Luna is pregnant – stay tuned 🙂

I thought Jaydin had chosen a difficult den (for us to get to), but Persephone takes the cake. Guess it’s a black-tailed rattlesnake thing? Persephone’s den was the farthest from headquarters and nearly at the top of the highest hill around. Like everywhere here outside the canyon bottoms, her hillside is steep and eroding too. I don’t actually speak from experience – Jeff has been tracking her since fall 🙂

Jaydin (left, male) and Persephone (right, female), 24 July 2012. Is she pregnant with Jaydin’s kids?

Of course since she has the most difficult den she is basically still right there. She emerged and has made a couple movements, but is still less than 50 yards from where she spent the winter. The highlight of her spring activity was shedding her skin in mid-May. According to a friend who has been tracking blacktails and other rattlesnakes for ~20 years, the timing of her shed and lack of movement may indicate that Persephone is pregnant. We’ll obviously keep you posted about that.