Arizona Black Rattlesnake babies that survived their first winter.
It is always a little sad to say goodbye to the Arizona Black Rattlesnake families at the end of the nesting season. It’s a difficult time for the neonates (newborns); in this population they have less than a month to find their first meal and locate a safe place to spend the winter. That’s a tall order for a two week old snake. So when the little ones disperse from the nest, we can never be sure that we’ll see them again. Today, we share stories about some of the lucky (or skillful?) neonates that survived that first winter.
Eve (large brown female rattlesnake) nested with another female, Peach (not pictured), in 2010. Together they cared for about 10 neonates, although Eve was the one most often seen on the surface with the little ones.
Fast forward to April 2011, when the rattlesnakes are emerging from their den.
They crawled onto a pile of leaves in the sun:
After basking a bit with Eve, Bozo gets restless and heads off camera. A little while later, Eve appears to notice he’s gone, searches for and finds his trail (note how her head is tapping the ground), and heads off in the direction he left.
Another neonate from Eve and Peach’s nest we called Dagger. We didn’t see Dagger at the dens in Spring 2011, so either we missed him or he did not den with his nestmates, because….
Dagger was hunting near the dens in late August 2011. He hung around the area for at least a week, trying out several different spots to get a meal. Then on 1 September, our timelapse camera caught him crawling into the rear entrance of Cap Mama’s nest (she gave birth that day).
Unfortunately that is the only footage we have of Cap Mama’s nest that day, so we don’t know if Dagger interacted with her or the neonates.
Woody gave birth to Adam in August 2010. Woody’s nest was farther away than most that year, about 150 yards from her den. Regardless, Adam found his way to the den where we saw him in April 2011.
Our timelapse camera caught Woody and Adam as they basked together that day:
Devil Tail’s Babies
This is Devil Tail, who nested alone at her den in 2010. Shortly after she gave birth, a large male rattlesnake, who also dens here, visited and basked with the family.
The adult male, Green Male, is the large black rattlesnake at the top of the image and Devil Tail is the smaller, brown adult (mostly her tail and rattle are visible). Both of the neonates pictured here were seen at the den the following spring (2011).
Perhaps nesting right at the den increases your chances of surviving your first winter, because Devil Tail’s kids seem to be doing pretty good!