Warm, not very windy, and very sunny: Snakes

The last few days have been warm, not very windy, and very sunny. When you put these three things together, you get snakes!

On Sunday I went on three separate snake-searching expeditions: one in the morning, one in the early afternoon, and one in the late afternoon. I could tell serpents would be out by the amount of lizards scampering about the desert.

In the morning, I found very little in the way of snakes, but some whiptail lizards were darting to and fro, and a few Zebra-Tailed Lizards were relaxing in the sun, waving their tails in the air like irritated cats. I even saw an occasional spiny lizard sitting in the sun, never too far from a hiding place.

On the afternoon trip, even more lizards were out, but I still didn’t see any signs of snakes, so I decided to check on some brush piles in which I had seen coachwhips earlier this winter. The first few piles had ground squirrels lounging on top, a sure sign that no snakes would be present. However, as I approached, one smaller pile started rustling and I had found my first snake of the day!

Finding a coachwhip and catching a coachwhip are Very Different Things. Unlike many large snakes, coachwhips are able to move at amazing speeds, though this one didn’t need any amazing speed because it already had a foolproof hideout. I returned a bit later to see if the snake had re-emerged and, although I could tell that it had, it was like trying to catch a lightning-fast, perfectly camouflaged piece of hay in a needle stack. 

The third outing of the day revealed many snake tracks on the roads, at least for February, but they all seemed a bit old. Judging by the tracks, my guess is that snakes are really out from around 2:30 to 4pm this time of year.

As for which kinds of snakes you may see, most of the tracks were smaller and had the typical curves of fast-moving snakes, so I think they are likely young Baja California Coachwhips and Western Patch-Nosed Snakes, though rattlesnakes are out as well. This is still pretty early for springtime snake movement, so my guess is once this little heat wave goes by, the snakes will retreat back underground until the warmer weather of the first real spring days. Chance Stevens chancestevens123@icloud.com