special snakes, 2012

December 6, 2012

I found two snakes in 2012 that I consider special, so I’ll keep this topic like that of the previous post, and show them here.

In mid May, I found the second specimen of utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis) documented in Millard County’s Confusion Range.  Like 2011’s that I found in a different canyon, this one is an adult male.  Unlike my previous post here, this time I’ll keep the commentary brief.  For more about utah mountain kingsnakes in western Utah, please see that previous post.

I gave this Confusion Range kingsnake a more thorough photo session than 2011’s.  This one was found a bit lower in elevation.  And his pattern is even blacker.

mid May 2012, utah mountain kingsnake (a), Confusion Range

mid May 2012, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult male (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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mid May 2012, utah mountain kingsnake (b), Confusions

mid May 2012, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult male (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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mid May 2012, utah mountain kingsnake (c), Confusions

mid May 2012, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult male (c), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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In the foreground here below the trees, I found it stretched out and facing downhill.

mid May 2012, utah mountain kingsnake habitat (a), Confusions

mid May 2012, habitat of utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult male (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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These mountain kingsnakes are not easy to find here.  Just because I’ve been lucky enough to see two in this range during two successive springtimes does not mean that’s something one could plan on.  If someone wants to find one in Utah there are surely other spots (generally SE of here) where the access and the discovery of one is easier.

Here’s another shot of nearby habitat.

mid May 2012, utah mountain kingsnake habitat (b), Confusions

mid May 2012, habitat of utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult male (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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I moved him into the shade of a big juniper, for some more shots.

mid May 2012, utah mountain kingsnake (d), Confusions

mid May 2012, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult male (d), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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mid May 2012, utah mountain kingsnake (e), Confusions

mid May 2012, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult male (e), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

I guess I want to make some more comments about these three utah mountain kingsnakes I found in photos shown in this post and the previous post.  It might seem as though I have finally learned what it takes to find these secretive snakes.  In the 9 seasons from 2002 through 2010, I found only 3 of these in Utah–in previously undocumented canyons in previously documented mountain ranges.  Then in the 2 seasons across 2011-2012 I found 3 more, all in two mountain ranges where I believe no one else has documented the species.  Did I improve in 2011, maybe?

Probably not.

The mid May 2011 House Range female was coiled & motionless, half exposed at the edge of a rock.  Despite the fact I was looking for that species, I failed to notice her until I’d begun to pick up the edge of that rock & she moved.

The late May 2011 Confusion Range male was out crawling when air temperature was a chilly 59F.  A storm was approaching and light rain had begun, and I judged the temperature had grown too cool for a kingsnake to be out moving.  So I was just walking quickly on my long hike back to my parked vehicle that there was a chance I might reach before the coming thunderstorm drenched me.  Then I saw that crawling kingsnake, under conditions I considered too cold for it to be out.

The mid May 2012 Confusion Range male was stretched out, motionless, in a canyon mouth area I passed through when I was tired from walking all day.  I believed I was too low in elevation to see a kingsnake, so I was just walking downhill quickly and was not even trying to see one then, yet there he was.

So, if I’ve learned anything through these examples it’s a sort of caution to not try too hard.  Just put yourself in the approximately right place & don’t force anything, and special things may show themselves despite your own poor talent & incorrect presumptions.

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Back to my special snakes of 2012: My other special snake this season was roadkilled specimen on a paved road.  This male longnose snake was out moving shortly before I found it freshly dead in north-central Millard Co on the morning of April 22, 2012.  That makes it the earliest-season specimen of its species documented within Utah north of Washington County–I’ll wager.

late April 2012, longnose snake, N-central Millard Co

late April 2012, western longnose snake (Rhinochelius lecontei), dead-on-road male, N-central Millard Co, UT

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I anticipate upcoming posts will cover lizards and other snakes seen during 2011-12.

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