Herpetofauna: One Life's List

Crotalus cerastes cercobombus
Sonoran Sidewinder

Pima Co., Arizona. August 3, 2000

Even after the sun goes down, the low desert near Tucson remains hot, cooling off slowly  through the night.  Once it is dark, the heat does not stop the night creatures from emerging; the scorpion, the 'roo rat, the Sidewinder.  It was the Sidewinder that brought us here to the back roads slowly leaking heat into the desert sky.

We weren't to be disappointed this night. As our headlights picked it up we could tell what it was by the way it 'jayed' across the sandy road, the motion made famous in so many wildlife films.  The little Sidewinder moved quickly and we had to as well, securing it just before it reached the thick brush.

Photography turned out to be a problem.  The little rattler wouldn't coil or stay still, and finally we tried pressing a small, light snake hook down on the serpent at midbody. This enabled us to get some head and upper body shots, at least.  To complicate things even further, the snake would work itself loose under the hook by wriggling its belly scutes and sinking into the sand!

The photo shoot over, we were content to watch the Sidewinder throw body loops forward, and hear the faint rasp of belly scutes on sand as it disappeared into the dark.






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