Howdy Herpers, 08/28/12
Two days ago, Gordo and I had just parked my battle-scarred truck in Suizo Wash. As we were egressing from the vehicle, we heard some hollering from above us on Iron Mine Hill. It was Marty Feldner, whom we had sent off to track a batch of animals that were not going to be on our list for the day.
"We've got a pairing up here. Marty the Prick has a girlfriend!" Marty shouted.
(Marty the Prick is our newest male black-tailed rattlesnake, CM14. He thus far has been wrongly accused, but we expect him to bomb all over the place any day now. Big male molossus have been know to go 1.5 miles in a day! We expect that from CM14--but thus far, he has been a good little prick in this regard. He has stayed close to Iron Mine Hill. The "Marty" in his inappropriate moniker appears because Marty was the person to find this snake. We fully expect to be cussing Marty the person when his namesake finally takes off. Which he WILL do, and soon, I'm sure.)
Since we had but one transmitter left for the year, and a female molossus was exactly what we wanted, I should have been ecstatic. Instead, the thought of dragging a female snake away from a male that had worked hard to find his girlfriend was bringing me down.
As Gordo will attest, there was a torrent of bitching emanating from my gullet all the way up the hill. Said bitching stopped for a few minutes when our path took us by a whopping male tortoise that was out basking in front his burrow. Two quick photos of that transpired, and we moved up to where Marty was staked out.
See image 1 below. The sight of the two snakes together in the same crevice was uplifting, but daunting as well. Getting the female (the snake on the left) out of that crevice was not going to be a picnic. It was quite possible we would spook it deeper if we bungled the attempt.
And so, off I went to try to bungle the attempt. Marty clamored to the boulder on top of the image to lend assistance if needed. Gordon took position behind me, and I sprawled into the prickly pear in front of the crevice. (This action is still causing some discomfort--but in six months, it will all go away).
The crevice was too narrow to get the tongs in, so I tried to get my snake hook in behind her. Instead of getting the hook behind her, I hit her smack in mid body. My heart sank, but this fumbling action caused her to do something that I've never seen before. She came right out of the crevice toward me! It's always better to be lucky than good!
So we snatched her effortlessly, and bagged her. There was still remorse in my heart for Marty the Prick, who could do nothing but stare at us from his crevice. Bummer for him--huh?
Once the tracking was behind us, we paused in our favorite "shady spot" to engage in the REAL reason for going out there. As this progressed, we removed our new female from the bag for some photos. See image 2.
A plan began to formulate. How can we get this girl back in the game asap? There was trio of consent.
Dale DeNardo can do it! He's our hero! We proceeded to call the hapless DVM, and he consented to perform the surgery the next day.
That night, I met Mr. Feldner with everything that was needed at a stop halfway between Phoenix and Tucson.
Last night, I met Mr. Feldner at the same spot. Everything was done and ready.
This morning, I worked my way back to the crevice. As soon as she was on the ground, she shot into the crevice. Half the job was done. I raised the antenna skyward with hope that Marty the Prick might be nearby.
Bingo--the signal was loud and clear. I found him 30 meters downslope of the crevice, moving away from it.
He was snagged, and carried back to his girlfriends lair. Like his lady love, he shot into the crevice as soon as he hit the ground.
See image 3.
I'm not sure if our meddling will result in successful reproduction with this pair. Time will tell, and we'll be watching.
One thing I do know for sure:
Both snakes will have a LOT to talk about...............
Best to all, roger