special snakes, 2013

August 20, 2017

Here I’ll post photos of the more interesting snakes I was able to photo within Utah during 2013’s season.  They are two utah mountain kingsnakes and one ring-necked snake.  Also part of a story here are two great basin rattlers I was able to photo in what I believe may be a posture they assume when hoping to drink rain.

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mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake habitat (a), Confusions

mid June 2013, habitat of utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), dead and dismembered subadult (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

In mid June I was walking in kingsnake habitat at dusk.  Dusk’s colors can be special.  Habitat was quite dry–no rain for awhile.

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mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (a), Confusions

mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), dead and dismembered subadult (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

I was on the lookout for snakes, and came across this unexpected scene.  The photo above shows what I found before I moved anything.

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mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (b), Confusions

mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), dead and dismembered subadult (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Some animal had recently killed and had been devouring this ~20-inch mountain kingsnake.  The blood was still wet.  Maybe I had unknowingly scared away the predator? I could not find the kingsnake’s head, and its sex was uncertain.  I assembled its pieces that I could find–all within about 1m.

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mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (c), Confusions

mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), dead and dismembered subadult (c), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake habitat (b), Confusions

mid June 2013, habitat of utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), dead and dismembered subadult (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

The following morning I returned to the site to record daytime photos.  Between the big sagebrush shrubs here was where I’d found the kingsnake’s pieces.

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mid June 2013, utah mountain kingsnake habitat (c), Confusions

mid June 2013, habitat of utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), dead and dismembered subadult (c), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Nearby was this expansive rockpile.  It probably provides habitat for kingsnakes.  Was the kingsnake crawling out on the surface–before nightfall–when the predator attacked it? Or did they meet within rocks or in a tunnel, and the snake was dragged out? Was the predator a skunk, a kit fox, a woodrat, a bird?

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake habitat (a), Confusions

late July 2013, habitat of utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

I returned to the area in late July.  I was glad I had hit a cloudy day.  Most summer days there are clear and hotter.

It rained for almost an hour starting around 5pm.  During and within a few hours after that rain, I walked around and was able to photograph the three snakes shown below.  (I also spotted a fourth–a subadult gophersnake happy to be out during the rain–but it dove down a spider’s hole before I could photograph it.)

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late July 2013, great basin rattler female (a), Confusions

late July 2013, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult female coiled during light rain (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

The first was this adult female rattler coiled at the edge of a nevada ephedra shrub.  She was on a slope, with her head at her coils’ lower end.

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late July 2013, great basin rattler female (b), Confusions

late July 2013, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult female coiled during light rain (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late July 2013, great basin rattler male (a), Confusions

late July 2013, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult male coiled during light rain (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Nearby I found a male in a similar position, with his head resting on his outer coil that was the lowest.  I suspect some rainwater ran down his scales, and he sipped it.  But I did not witness that myself.

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late July 2013, great basin rattler male (b), Confusions

late July 2013, great basin rattler (Crotalus lutosus), adult male coiled during light rain (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Those two rattlers, found within a few minutes of each other during light rain, were actually the first rattlers I had found in that drainage following several visits.  I had found rattlers earlier in other Confusion Range drainages.

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (a), Confusions

late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (a), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Later I found an adult utah moutain kingsnake.  I suspect the rain earlier helped urge it out into the open.  I had found two others in this mountain range during previous years, both in the month of May, that had been adult males.  This one was an adult female.  I took plenty of photos…

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (b), Confusions

late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (c), Confusions

late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (c), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (d), Confusions

late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (d), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (e), Confusions

late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (e), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (f), Confusions

late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (f), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

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late July 2013, utah mountain kingsnake habitat (b), Confusions

late July 2013, habitat of utah mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana infralabialis), adult female (b), Confusion Range, Millard Co, UT

Here’s a photo from the following morning.  The habitat looks dry, even though the previous day’s rain had been significant enough to help bring out more snakes than I could usually find there.

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late Sept 2013, regal ring-necked snake habitat (a), Oquirrh foothills

late Sept 2013 habitat of regal ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis), adult male (a), facing east, W Oquirrh Mtns foothills, Tooele Co, UT

In late September I visited the Oquirrh Range.  During morning on my drive out, I found a recently squashed, dead snake.  It turned out to be a less-often-seen species, a ring-necked snake.  I think most ring-neckeds are found at higher elevation, with trees near.  This one was found down in the sagebrush, with the nearest junipers about one mile away.

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late Sept 2013, regal ring-necked snake habitat (a), Oquirrh foothills

late Sept 2013 habitat of regal ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis), adult male (b), facing west, W Oquirrh Mtns foothills, Tooele Co, UT

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late Sept 2013, regal ring-necked snake (a), Oquirrh foothills

late Sept 2013 regal ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis), adult male (a), dead-on-road, as found, W Oquirrh Mtns foothills, Tooele Co, UT

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late Sept 2013, regal ring-necked snake (b), Oquirrh foothills

late Sept 2013 regal ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis), adult male (b), dead-on-road, close-up dorsal, W Oquirrh Mtns foothills, Tooele Co, UT

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late Sept 2013, regal ring-necked snake (c), Oquirrh foothills

late Sept 2013 regal ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis), adult male (c), dead-on-road, close-up ventral, W Oquirrh Mtns foothills, Tooele Co, UT

It turned out that during 2014-2017 I was able to find three more ring-necked snakes within Utah, all in other spots where I don’t think that species had been vouchered before.  And it was nice that those later ones were all alive (and away from pavement).  Some photos of those live ring-neckeds may be in subsequent posts here.

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One Response to “special snakes, 2013”

  1. Nathan Kelly said

    Great to see you post again Mark, great blog entry.

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