special lizards, 2011-2012

December 29, 2012

Here are four species of lizards that I’ll call “special” here since I was able to photograph them my first time.

The first two of these four species here I had never seen in Utah before.

western chuckwalla, reddish crevice, Babylon Rd area

mid April 2011, western chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater), in reddish crevice, Babylon Rd area, Washington Co, UT

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western chuckwalla, grayish crevice, Babylon Rd area

mid April 2011, western chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater), in grayish crevice, Babylon Rd area, Washington Co, UT

The second shot above is of a different specimen than the first.  These were in crevices late in the day, and I’ve still never seen one outside a crevice.

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habitat of western chuckwalla, Babylon Rd area

mid April 2011, habitat of western chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater), Babylon Rd area, Washington Co, UT

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zebra-tailed lizard, Babylon area

mid April 2011, zebra-tailed lizard (Callisaurus draconoides), Babylon area, Washington Co, UT

I had seen zebra-tailed lizards in Arizona, but a couple I found here in this open, sandy area were the first I’d seen within Utah.

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yellow-backed desert spiny lizard, subadult (b), near Hurricane

mid April 2011, yellow-backed desert spiny lizard (Sceloporus uniformis), subadult (b), near Hurricane, Washington Co, UT

I have seen this species in earlier years along the foothills of the Pine Valley Mtns, but this subadult was the first one I’ve photographed.
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Different shot of same specimen above:

yellow-backed desert spiny lizard, subadult (a), near Hurricane

mid April 2011, yellow-backed desert spiny lizard (Sceloporus uniformis), subadult (a), near Hurricane, Washington Co, UT

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plateau striped whiptail, E of Cedar City

late June 2012, plateau striped whiptail (Aspedoscelis velox), E of Cedar City, Cedar Cyn area, Iron Co, UT

This was the fourth area in Utah where I’ve seen plateau striped whiptails.  At the three other spots, I found them rustling through fallen oak leaves; but here on this walk I learned they can also be found away from oak, in habitat such as this pinion – juniper – alderleaf mahogany habitat.  But, there were patches of oak within 200m of this spot.

This is Utah’s all-female (parthenogenetic) whiptail species.  Like all whiptails I’ve encountered, the two I saw at this spot were skittish & difficult to photograph.

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habitat of plateau striped whiptail, E of Cedar City

late June 2012, habitat of plateau striped whiptail (Aspedoscelis velox), E of Cedar City, Cedar Cyn area, Iron Co, UT

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rattlesnakes, 2011-2012

December 28, 2012

Across these two seasons, these are rattlesnakes I saw in situations where photos were easy.  All these are great basin rattlesnakes, Crotalus lutosus, seen in the western half of Utah.

great basin rattler, adult (a), Washington Co

mid April 2011, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), large adult basking in dusklight (a), under slab as found, Babylon Rd area, SE of Leeds, Washington Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen above:

great basin rattler, adult (b), Washington Co

mid April 2011, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult basking in dusklight, (b) out from under slab, Babylon Rd area, SE of Leeds, Washington Co, UT

This old adult down below 3,400 ft elevation shared its habitat with desert tortoises, banded geckoes and chuckwallas, and perhaps also gila monsters and sidewinder rattlers.  Such habitat constitutes the lower-elevation end of this rattler species’ utilized habitat.  In Utah this rattler species spans up through ~8,000 ft elevation where the habitat is far different than this specimen’s lower & hotter desert habitat.  Most snake species have narrower habitat requirements than the great basin rattler.

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great basin rattler, adult, Sheeprock Mtns

early May 2011, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), large adult warming under board, Sheeprock Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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Unlike some other states in the western USA, few snakes in Utah are found underneath “artificial cover”.  But I found the large & sleepy adult in the photo above under this board:

habitat of great basin rattler, adult, Sheeprock Mtns

early May 2011, habitat of great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus) adult under board, Sheeprock Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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great basin rattler, adult (a), Southern House Range

mid May 2011, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult in grass (a), as found, Southern House Range, Millard Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen above:

great basin rattler, adult (b), Southern House Range

mid May 2011, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult in grass (b), unobscured on limestone, Southern House Range, Millard Co, UT

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great basin rattler, small adult, Confusion Range

late May 2011, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), small adult in dry wash, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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habitat of great basin rattler, small adult, Confusion Range

late May 2011, habitat of great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), small adult in dry wash, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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habitat of great basin rattler, adult under cliffrose, Oquirrh Mtns

early June 2011, habitat of great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult under cliffrose, W Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

Here, I found a large adult resting in the dappled shade of this shrub.

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great basin rattler, adult under cliffrose (a), Oquirrh Mtns

early June 2011, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult under cliffrose (a), W Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen above:

great basin rattler, adult under cliffrose (b), Oquirrh Mtns

early June 2011, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult under cliffrose (b), W Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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great basin rattler, small adult in ambush (a), Oquirrh Mtns

early June 2011, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), small adult in ambush position (a), W Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

I consider this photo above the best one of this post.  Maybe someone more knowledgeable about rattlesnakes can offer a better opinion, but I think this motionless position that I recorded may be an example of its “ambush position”–when a rattler coils on a rodent’s trail and waits, head cocked to strike.  There have probably been situations where I only noticed a rattler after my presence had disturbed it out of its ambush position.  But this one I noticed from a distance and was able to obtain this photo before my presence caused it to shift position.

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Different shot of same specimen above:

great basin rattler, small adult in ambush (b), Oquirrh Mtns

early June 2011, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), small adult in ambush position (b), disturbed & close-up, W Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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habitat of great basin rattler, whitish adult, Fish Springs Range

mid June 2011, habitat of great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus) whitish adult, foothills of Fish Springs Range, Juab Co, UT

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great basin rattler, whitish adult, Fish Springs Range

mid June 2011, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), whitish adult, foothills of Fish Springs Range, Juab Co, UT

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great basin rattler, neonate at dusk, Oquirrh Mtns

early July 2011, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), neonate at dusk, W Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

I noticed this little snake (that I’d guess was the previous fall’s newborn) as it moved slowly at dusk on rocky slope.

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great basin rattler, small adult (a), Oquirrh Mtns

early July 2012, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), small adult basking in morning sun (a), W Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen above:

great basin rattler, small adult (b), Oquirrh Mtns

early July 2012, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), small adult basking in morning sun (b), retreated into talus, W Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

I suspect this small adult was a mature female that had been coiled & basking in the full sun during mid morning because it had developing embryos inside that it was warming.  It did not seem to have a noticeable meal (a “food bolus”) inside.  But its posterior, shown in the first photo above, seemed thickened a bit.  What do you think?

This adult was an example of a very calm, unperturbed rattler, as some can be.  I did not notice her until my nearness began to disturb her out of her coil.  She never rattled, and simply moved slowly into the shelter of this nearby talus.  There, she did not hide as deeply as she could have, but remained watching, as shown.

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great basin rattler, neonate (a), Confusion Range

early Sept 2012, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), neonate in afternoon shade (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen above:

great basin rattler, neonate (b), Confusion Range

early Sept 2012, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), neonate in afternoon shade (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

There, now you can see this baby rattler.  My nearness has not yet caused it to shift position.

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Different shot of same specimen above:

great basin rattler, neonate (b), Confusion Range

early Sept 2012, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), neonate in afternoon shade (c), retreated under rock, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

My photography eventually caused this baby rattler to retreat under the nearby rock, but I was pleased with this shot of it peeking out.

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great basin rattler, subadult, nighttime, Oquirrh Mtns

late Sept 2012, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), subadult warming on paved road, nighttime, W Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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nonvenomous snakes, 2011-2012

December 22, 2012

These are some nonvenomous snakes I came across during these two seasons.

great basin gophersnake, adult female (a), Confusion Range

late May 2011, great basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), adult female (a), facing, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

When I found her, I placed her up on a limestone boulder for photos.  She was grumpy, as you can see here by her flattened, threatening head.

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Different shot of same specimen above:

great basin gophersnake, adult female (b), Confusion Range

late May 2011, great basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), adult female (b), lateral midbody, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen above:

great basin gophersnake, adult female (c), Confusion Range

late May 2011, great basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), adult female (c), lateral posterior, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen above:

great basin gophersnake, adult female (d), Confusion Range

late May 2011, great basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), adult female (d), motionless as found, Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

This fourth & final shot is how she looked before I disturbed her.  She was resting like this under a cloudy sky.

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Here’s some likely-looking talus habitat–and below is the snake I discovered in it.

gophersnake habitat, talus, Simpson Mtns

mid June 2011, habitat of great basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), quartzite talus, Simpson Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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great basin gophersnake, talus, Simpson Mtns

mid June 2011, great basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), adult in quartzite talus, Simpson Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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Not far away, I came across a species I had not seen before in the Simpsons Mtns:

yellowbelly racer, adult female, Simpson Mtns

mid June 2011, yellowbelly racer (Coluber constrictor mormon), adult female (a), Simpson Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen above:

yellowbelly racer, adult female, Simpson Mtns

mid June 2011, yellowbelly racer (Coluber constrictor mormon), adult female (b), Simpson Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

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Different shot of same specimen above:

yellowbelly racer, adult female, Simpson Mtns

mid June 2011, yellowbelly racer (Coluber constrictor mormon), adult female (c) moving, Simpson Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

This is the only decent shot I’ve ever obtained of a racer moving.  They can speed along.

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yellowbelly racer, adult male, Simpson Mtns

mid June 2011, yellowbelly racer (Coluber constrictor mormon), adult male, Simpson Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

Although it might not be obvious, this is a different specimen–a male I found about 50m from that female above.

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habitat of yellowbelly racer adults, Simpson Mtns

mid June 2011, habitat of yellowbelly racer (Coluber constrictor mormon) adult female & adult male, Simpson Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

This shot shows these racers’ habitat.  The female was along the rocks in the foreground.  The male was in the grassier area farther back.

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great basin gophersnake, adult female, Oquirrh Mtns

early Sept 2011, great basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), stub-tailed adult female (a), Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

You thought this post was done with gopher snakes? Don’t think so.  This skinny adult female looked to me like she might not survive the coming winter.  But who knows?

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Different shot of same specimen above:

great basin gophersnake, adult female, Oquirrh Mtns

early Sept 2011, great basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), stub-tailed adult female (b), Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

This shot shows her stub tail.  It also shows her orangish tint that most Utah specimens lack.

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great basin gophersnake, neonate male in crack, Oquirrh Mtns

mid Oct 2011, great basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), neonate in limestone crack, Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

I found this little male moving on a limestone slope, and this shot in the crack was the best photo of him I managed.

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striped whipsnake, soon-to-shed adult, Oquirrh Mtns

early June 2012, striped whipsnake (Masticophis taeniatus), soon-to-shed adult in limestone talus, Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

This was a somewhat odd find.  The bluish cast to the eye indicates this snake is in its pre-shed stage.  Usually, snakes in this stage are more likely to keep hidden.  But this whipsnake was discovered just like this–warming out in the morning sunlight.  So, wild whipsnakes do not always stay hidden through their pre-shed stage.

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great basin gophersnake, adult on road, Oquirrh Mtns

late Sept 2012, great basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), adult female warming on paved road, nighttime, Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

Another gophersnake? I see most of my snakes while hiking, but this is how they look when you find them at night on a paved road.  Many, like this one, are not inclined to flee when a vehicle approaches near.

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great basin gophersnake, neonate on dirt rd, Oquirrh Mtns

late Sept 2012, great basin gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), neonate on dirt road at night, Oquirrh Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

To finish, how about?…a gophernake.  This hatchling was moving along a dirt road I walked up after dark.

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