Ecologists study how interactions between species affect populations. Trophic (feeding) interactions are the most obvious (e.g., lions eat zebras), but competition and mutualism are also important in structuring populations residing together. Food webs consider how seemingly non-interacting populations of species may influence each other indirectly, often through the actions of other species. How individuals interact… Read More


The male combat “dance” of snakes – rattlesnakes among them – is an affair wherein the obvious isn’t the truth, and the the truth is stranger than the obvious (Laurence Klauber, in Rattlesnakes, p. 703) When we think of combat, graphic images of violent competition come to mind: humans with swords or guns, sheep ramming… Read More


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… Read More


Snake Count is here! I’ll end this week’s roundup of snakes with the snake that started my obsession with rattlesnakes, black-tailed rattlesnakes (Crotalus molossus, hereafter blacktails). Many, many years ago, I attended the International Herpetological Symposium just for fun, as the only reptiles I worked with at the time were of the feathered variety. I… Read More


Last month we told you about the western diamond-backed rattlesnake den we recently ‘discovered’ at preserve headquarters. Well, this past week has been a busy one for our rattlesnake neighbors. We have seen about a half dozen adult males and females hanging out and/or dispersing from their den. Here are some highlights: In the following… Read More


At a certain time of year, a male snake focuses his efforts on breeding. He moves long distances in search of potential mates (a video of this behavior, scent-trailing, can be seen here). However, finding a female is only the first step; now he must convince her to mate with him. Rattlesnakes are great romantics.… Read More


Wow, it has been awhile, but I won’t bore you with the details of why we’ve been absent. What’s important is that WE’RE BACK! We (and the snakes) had a busy summer and even though the snakes will be headed to their dens soon, we’ll have plenty of stories to share all winter long while… Read More