In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

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Fieldnotes
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In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by Fieldnotes » August 5th, 2015, 1:25 am

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First stop, get situated at the Hotel Villa del Palmar. Hiking around the hotel produced far fewer reptiles than what the habitat looks to support (produced for me that is) - Side-blotched Lizards, Granite Spiny, Desert Iguana, Baja California Spiny Lizard, Black-tailed Brush, Zebra-tailed, one-juvenile Central Baja California Banded Rock Lizard, and after a hurricane Couch's Spadefoot in chorus.

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Carmen 'island' Zebra-tailed Lizard

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Black-tailed Brush Lizard

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Outrageously long road delays, at times over an hour, gave me some times to briskly walk around. But with the family waiting in the hot car and a lengthy-line of stuck drivers watching, i couldn't put in any real effort, so only Orange-throated Whiptails and a Baja subspecies of the Tiger Whiptail were spotted.

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The first night of road cruising produced only road-kills - 2 Baja California Rattlers , 2 massive Red Diamond Rattlers, 1 Baja California Lyre Snake, and 3 Baja Rat Snakes one of which had its rat-meal thrust from its stomach. [See a complete list of what was found by exploring the Herp Data Base and search Flaxington/Mexico http://www.naherp.com/search.php?r_owne ... ounty=3538 ]

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A day-drive through a popular canyon stirred the imagination, one could only dream of all the herps that could be found in this canyon.. it looked awesome for night-driving!

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The rightfully named Baja California Chorus Frog, one of countless seen and heard - Pseudacris h. curta

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Red-spotted Toads were everywhere! At times appearing in what seemed to be dry, barren desert.

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Leaf-toed Gecko moved off the road.

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Then came the most brilliantly pattern Lyre that I have ever seen.

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Couch's Spadefoots were also found, but could be considered uncommon when compared to the abundant Red-spotted Toad.

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Later, after i tired of road cruising, i started walking roadcuts, and just like "on cue" this Baja California Rattler came slithering down a cliff. A first for me, and a pretty cool snake. Didn't seem very aggressive at all, matter fact it was so friendly, it was "Medusa-like" with its peaceful attitude. It almost turned me into the Croc-hunter, but then I reationalizeed that i'm very far from a functioning hospital. So, i'd better not.
Then back to the Hotel for some R&R

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Hurricane Odile was about to strike Loreto and as everyone seem to be fleeing north, including what seemed every diesel truck in Cabo San Lucas, I drove south to see what might be crawling in the pouring, windy rain. Snakes were active right before the storm, but it was no surprise that most were dead due to the sheer number of vehicles fleeing from Cabo and southern Baja. (1-DOR Mexican Rosy Boa, 1-AOR San Lucan Gopher Snake, and this beast a San Lucan Speckled Rattler. This thing looks rather weird, with its small-eyes. I read recently that they are genetically distinct from pyrrhus.

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Hurrican Odile struck Loreto that night and lasted well into the next day. Completely wipping out Cabo San Lucas to the south, and crippling Loreto, especially its sea ports. Some roads were completely washed out, including that awesome canyon-road I drove a couple nights prior. Worse of all, the herp activity was devastated, virtually nothing was crawling for THREE nights following the storm. All this time, I still haven't found my target species alive, the Baja California Rat.

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For several nights, I had the roads to myself because Hurricane Odile wipped out long-distant truck travel by destroying roads north of Cabo. So, it was a real bummer not to see any snakes, especially since i had the road to myself and they would likely be alive. It was not until the 4th night after the storm that the first snake appeared, a Lyre Snake. And by this time, the roads to the South were being repaired and traffic was again picking up on the Highway. The Lyre Snake was followed by a Speckled Rattler...

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...another DOR Bogertophis, and...

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...this cool-looking snake, a Baja California Night Snake with its bulbous eyes.

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Its my final night to road cruise and i still had not found a live Rat Snake. So, at this point in my search im stopping for nothing but a Bogertophis. :x Yet, im still gathering the occasional photo vouchers :D and quickly snapping shots of live snakes before tossing them from the dangerous road. Sadly, DOR Rats snakes were a reoccurring sight, they were obviously common here, but i just hadn't come across a live one yet.

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As the night came to an end, I accepted failure as my destiny. There! On the last kilometer of paved road, before reaching the dirt road back to my hotel a huge Bogertophis! Boy are they fast, but you know what is faster, a herper racing out a car to snatch a snake from the road before a speeding truck smashes it. Exciting to say the least.

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The snake was temporarily detained, and released at the site of capture the following morning as my family and I made our way to the Loreto Airport and back home.

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My Target species was Bogertophis, and considering it took the entire trip to find... all the other species are insidental, I never did get to change targets to a second species, which would have been Chilomeniscus. But that's okay, because ultimately it was a great trip, Hurricane Odile and all, and now I look forward to a returning adventure. But this time, i'm heading to Santa Catalina Island, the land of the rattle-less rattlesnake.

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Visit the HERP DATA base to view more habitat shots and see a complete list of the herps spotted while visiting Loreto, Baja California Sur.

http://www.naherp.com/search.php?r_owne ... ounty=3538

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SurfinHerp
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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by SurfinHerp » August 5th, 2015, 9:19 am

Awesome Will!! :thumb:

Love that first lyre snake :mrgreen:

Also really like the Baja night snake and the big ratsnake. Never give up until the road ends! (Then check the parking lot too)



Jeff

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Kent VanSooy
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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by Kent VanSooy » August 5th, 2015, 10:41 am

Great stuff Will ! Love the lizards, and that first lyre is an absolute stunner. Congrats on finding your target!

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Kevin Price
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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by Kevin Price » August 5th, 2015, 11:14 am

Great post!

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nightdriver
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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by nightdriver » August 5th, 2015, 7:44 pm

I am green with envy :mrgreen:

Great stuff. nice to see some herps not normally posted.

-nightdriver

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ricrabt
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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by ricrabt » August 6th, 2015, 12:30 am

Awesome Will, looks like you had a great time....

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MarcLinsalata
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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by MarcLinsalata » August 6th, 2015, 3:28 am

That Lyre (and everything else that was still alive) is awesome man, great stuff!!!!!!!!!!!

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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by PNWHerper » August 6th, 2015, 7:12 am

Will, this was an epic Baja post. Loved seeing those ratsnakes most of all. They are such a beautiful species. Hopefully one of these years, Jeff will find one this side of the border. :thumb:

:beer:

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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by hellihooks » August 6th, 2015, 1:06 pm

showed that lyre pic around... and had a few folks cry 'photoshopped'... :shock: I defended your honor vigerousley... :evil: :lol: :lol: :lol: very cool post, bro... :thumb: jim

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Fieldnotes
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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by Fieldnotes » August 6th, 2015, 4:26 pm

Thanks everyone. My wife and son liked the hotel too, so while they enjoyed the pool or beach, I went off walking the hotel grounds or road cruising. The day before leaving I found some very cool remote roads that looked great for future exploring. The many islands around Loreto also looked awesome.

Hooks, I do use the "Auto-contrast button" and crop, so if that means slightly photoshopped, then yes it was photoshopped. :cry: I feel the auto contrast sharpens the picture.

Here's Another shot of that Lyre:
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Whats up with those Lyre Snakes anyways, they appear more like T. lambda, than lyrophanes.

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by Brian Hubbs » August 6th, 2015, 8:01 pm

Very nice post Will. I enjoyed the habitat and snake pics. Made me feel like I was there. :thumb:

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mattg
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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by mattg » August 8th, 2015, 10:30 am

holy moly! i loved this post i cant wait to get down there one day! And absolutely that first lyre is Amazing! that would of been hard not to hold on to that thing! :thumb: :thumb:

ramblon
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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by ramblon » August 9th, 2015, 9:53 am

Feel your pain with all the DOR's in that region, it can be difficult and dangerous in many stretches along Hwy 1, those all nighter truckers don't give 2 $hits about conditions, curves, or slower vehicles :shock:

Lyres are quite common through that stretch, but can't say I've seen one with that much color between the saddles, pretty snake! Congrats on the live rosalie, very cool snakes indeed, especially with their guts on the inside of their bodies!

Crazy that you were down there during Odile, many places are still recovering, we saw extensive damage hundreds of miles north of where you were this spring, places that haven't had a hurricane pass over them in decades...

:beer:

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jonathan
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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by jonathan » August 11th, 2015, 5:00 am

Great post Will! Lyre/rattler/rat snakes are beauts. Getting some Baja records there.

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Fieldnotes
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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by Fieldnotes » August 12th, 2015, 5:28 pm

Thanks for the kind responses. Loreto is an awesome place, someday I would like to drive the entire peninsular, or at least to Bahia de Los Angeles. Not sure when i'll get around to doing that, but i'm sure it will be either before or after driving to Alaska. :beer:

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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by hellihooks » August 14th, 2015, 2:00 pm

Fieldnotes wrote: but i'm sure it will be either before or after driving to Alaska. :beer:
Won't everything be either before or after driving to Alaska??? :crazyeyes: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: In Search of Baja California Rat Snakes

Post by reako45 » August 16th, 2015, 12:06 am

Fantastic narrative, photos and adventure. The snakes down there are friggin gorgeous. Especially like that Lyre. This post was better than most of the movies I've seen this year.

reako45

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