The Bay Area oreganus extravaganza

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The Bay Area oreganus extravaganza

Post by azatrox » April 17th, 2018, 7:14 am

I grew up in the Bay Area...Lived there for 16+ years...I can remember as a kid fantasizing about the rattlesnakes in the hills...I very distinctly remember seeing my very first wild rattlesnake (hiking with my mother) curled up under a big patch of poison oak when I was 8-9 years old....

And then I moved out to Arizona at 18 to attend ASU...In the years since I've seen just about every AZ venomous critter that exists. But I still have a soft spot for that oreganus coiled up under that big patch of poison oak...

I recently drove an 18 wheeler across the US every week with a partner for a few years...We'd go from Stockton, CA to Burlington, NJ every week. We'd do our 34 hour resets (the time period where you are legally obligated to get out of the truck after working for 70 hours in an 8 day period) back in my old stomping grounds in the Bay Area. My folks still live there, so it was an opportunity for us to get out of the truck, stretch our legs a bit, get some home cooked meals and (for me) to do some Bay Area herping.

What follows is an assemblage of C. oreganus pics I took while herping an area in the Bay Area. I saw quite a few other cool critters, but since I'm a "crote head" at heart I was really only concerned with the buzzworms. If you see what looks to be the same animal in numerous pics, it's because it likely is...a hands off approach allowed me to observe and photograph this population of animals doing a variety of natural behaviors, from eating to breeding.

Anyway, enjoy the oreganus overload....

- Kris
An especially dark animal seen basking on a northern California late summer morning...kinda reminded me of the C. cerberus we have here in AZ.
Gotta love that eye...
A dark and attractive adult. It must have just shed, as it had a definite velvet sheen about it....
A large male seen basking. This guy was GIRTHY.
A YOY snake hanging out in a rockpile. I saw a few young ones, but not as many as I would have thought.
A really pretty female found basking on some rocks at a pile that consistently turns up numerous snakes engaged in numerous behaviors.
A REALLY green male seen numerous times. He was nicknamed "Mr. Smiley Face" by me and a friend because of the while markings on the back of his head that vaguely resembled a smiley face.
One of the rarer residents in the area, I saw a few Alameda County Whipsnakes (Coluber lateralis euryxanthus) on several hikes.

This is a SSC (Species of Special Concern) in CA, as it only exists in a few, fragmented populations within the Bay Area.
Big, lazy snake.
The Western fance lizards were a hoot....Tons of personality and a really interesting species to observe as they interacted with each other.
Peek a boo....
A young snake seen carousing among the rocks....
It was quite common to see pairs of animals hanging out together.
An itty bitty baby Coast Horned Lizard found buried in the sand. The tracks give the photo a nice touch. Another SSC in CA.
A young female that likes to hang out in the same area of rock pile every time I was there....She was one of the most consistent animals I'd seen.
Find the whip...Don't touch the leaves...
Big boy sleeping the afternoon away.
A boldly patterned animal hanging out outside an overwintering hibernaculum.
Cool looking adult.
Norpacs making norpacs.
Big adult eating a California ground squirrel.
Chocolatey goodness in spring.
Big male.
Gravid female cooking some babies...

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Re: The Bay Area oreganus extravaganza

Post by Nicholas » April 17th, 2018, 4:55 pm

Sweet finds! Especially the horned lizard and whipsnake! I've never found a Blaiville's fully buried like that before. Very cool observation.

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Re: The Bay Area oreganus extravaganza

Post by the_cw1 » April 17th, 2018, 5:31 pm

Oreganus are very special snakes. Thanks for sharing the love. :)


mark buck
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Re: The Bay Area oreganus extravaganza

Post by mark buck » April 29th, 2018, 11:42 pm

Great post dude!

Oreganus are definitely my favorite species of rattlesnake,
so variable in pattern/color and they hang out in some awesome habitat

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Re: The Bay Area oreganus extravaganza

Post by azatrox » May 2nd, 2018, 8:48 am


I dig 'em for of those critters that not many people target, but I'd personally rather see a nice oreganus than a zonata any day!


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Re: The Bay Area oreganus extravaganza

Post by Jimi » May 2nd, 2018, 11:57 am

I'd personally rather see a nice oreganus than a zonata any day!
Lake County, CA my friend. Ha ha ha. You might hit a pesky zoner or two, but you will definitely see some nice NorPacs!

Thanks for all the pics. Nice variety, nice commentary. No overload whatsoever.

You still driving?


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