Saturday, April 23, 2011


The last couple of weeks have been very full, all days afield with friends and clients. A few days ago on the road to Barfoot Park, high in the Chiricahuas, a faint buzzing like an angry bee announced the presence of a tiny Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (Crotalus pricei) at our feet, doing its best to get out of the way. (We let it!)

Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (Photos by Narca)

Then today's hike with Alan, Carol Comeau, and John Roser on the Ash Springs loop brought a close encounter with one of the most beautiful of snakes, the Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana). John spotted it: he tends to look down for snakes; I am usually looking up!

This mimic of the Western Coral Snake is usually diurnal and, when it emerges from under rocks, is on the move, for it actively searches for food instead of waiting in ambush for prey to pass by. Sonoran Mountain Kingsnakes feed mainly on rodents and small lizards. We see only a few each year, so this one was a treat!

Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake

We had been worried that the extreme deep freeze experienced by the region this winter may have killed many reptiles. A few species, like Clark's Spiny Lizards, may have been especially vulnerable because of their hibernation habits, and we have yet to see any of those emerge. But at least the state-protected Twin-spots and the fabulous Sonoran Mountain Kingsnakes seem to have survived the extreme cold snap.


  1. Love the snake pictures Narca. Looks like we will be coming to Portal in September for a few days once again to get in some wildlife watching. We can't wait.

  2. What a treat with these two beauties! Thanks for sharing the photos.