Tips for Locating Lampropeltis Pyromelana in Arizona

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grant220towne
Posts: 5
Joined: June 16th, 2021, 3:21 pm
Location: Chandler, AZ

Tips for Locating Lampropeltis Pyromelana in Arizona

Post by grant220towne »

Hello,

I am looking to ask people who live in or frequent AZ for some tips on finding Lampropeltis pyromelena (Arizona Mountain Kingsnake). I live in AZ and have been herping since I was a little kid but somehow never discovered this forum until recently. I have been on many outings looking for these snakes before, but have never seen one. I know the general areas to look for these guys, but what I'm looking for is specific advice on the best way to find them. Is it flipping rocks near streams? Or cruising roads in their habitat? I also realize that the time of day and temperature could determine what method would be best, but I am wondering if people could offer their opinion on what the absolute best method would be and at what time to do it. This summer my wife and I are planning a trip to Sedona and I really want to make this the time that I find one!

Thanks everyone, I plan on being an active member here since discovering this forum.

-Grant
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Bryan Hamilton
Posts: 1231
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 8:49 pm

Re: Tips for Locating Lampropeltis Pyromelana in Arizona

Post by Bryan Hamilton »

Mountain kingsnakes are hard to find everywhere in their range. Give yourself plenty of time and grace and try to enjoy the process.

First, find a spot where you are confident they occur. This could be a place where someone else has seen a kingsnake or really good habitat.

Plan on spending some searching. It can take 40-80 search hours to find a mountain kingsnake. Success tends to be non-linear. So you might spend days searching, then find two in an hour. This species spends virtually all its time underground. When you find one on the surface, the snake is doing somethings it usually doesn't do.

Mountain kingsnakes can be flipped or cruised but most are found on the crawl. I've heard people in AZ have good luck with shining into cracks and crevices with a flashlight or mirror. This has never worked for me but I still do it.

Actively search. Some people just hike around and expect snakes to appear. Sometimes this works but I like to have a search image for the species and think about where the would be and how they would hide. Think about how the weather conditions could affect their activity.

Weather and time of year definitely matter. Overcast skies, clouds, and recent rain seem to increase surface activity. Searching during heavy rain isn't productive. Spring is my best time of year in Nevada. Monsoons are good in AZ. Evenings and mornings when there topographic shadows that make shade is good. Direct sunlight isn't good so look in shady areas when its sunny and hot. The species likes it hot compared to some snakes but direct sunlight is bad. Humidity is good. I don't have an opinion about wind.

To find kingsnakes go out and look. You don't find them when you're at home waiting for the perfect weather conditions.

Streams and riparian areas are good habitat but don't limit yourself to those areas. Kingsnakes can live completely independently of surface water and are found far away from streams. Check the cliffs and rocky areas.

Think dense cover. Vegetation and rocks. This also makes them harder to find but they seem to need lots of places to hide.

Get Brian Hubb's book on mountain kingsnakes. AZ mountain kingsnakes are the hardest mountain kingsnake to find imo. THis book can help.

https://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Kings-C ... 0975464108

Have fun and enjoy. I found my first mountain kingsnake in arizona in less than an hour. In Nevada it took me 5 years to find one. I still have to work really hard to turn one up.
grant220towne
Posts: 5
Joined: June 16th, 2021, 3:21 pm
Location: Chandler, AZ

Re: Tips for Locating Lampropeltis Pyromelana in Arizona

Post by grant220towne »

Bryan,

Thank you for the advice!! I really really appreciate it. You definitely gave me a few nuggets there that I had never considered.

Your first one in AZ in less than an hour huh? That must have been awesome!
Joe Bouvier
Posts: 15
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:55 pm

Re: Tips for Locating Lampropeltis Pyromelana in Arizona

Post by Joe Bouvier »

It took me 50 hours of searching before I found my first pyro. Then one month later I found another. A year later, I found 2 in one day and then 1 the next day. It is very unpredictable. However the information and recommendations above are very good.

DSM
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Brian Hubbs
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:41 am
Location: "Buy My Books"-land

Re: Tips for Locating Lampropeltis Pyromelana in Arizona

Post by Brian Hubbs »

Hey Bryan...thanks for plugging my book. :thumb:
If he hasn't got it yet, I live right next door in Tempe and he could save money by getting a copy from me... :D
AZ pyros are not difficult if you know when and what to do.
jons
Posts: 23
Joined: August 13th, 2010, 1:04 pm

Re: Tips for Locating Lampropeltis Pyromelana in Arizona

Post by jons »

:thumb: i remember many years ago brain almost tripped over a pyro out crawling in midday. good job brain!
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Porter
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Joined: March 19th, 2011, 6:43 pm

Re: Tips for Locating Lampropeltis Pyromelana in Arizona

Post by Porter »

jons wrote: April 14th, 2022, 8:53 am :thumb: i remember many years ago brain almost tripped over a pyro out crawling in midday. good job brain!
I once had a crush on a girl who stepped on a rattlesnake… that has nothing to do with Brian, but it has a little bit to do with people who step on snakes 🤷🏻‍♂️

Sorta :?
grant220towne
Posts: 5
Joined: June 16th, 2021, 3:21 pm
Location: Chandler, AZ

Re: Tips for Locating Lampropeltis Pyromelana in Arizona

Post by grant220towne »

In case anyone wanted an update...

I didn't find my pyro this time around. I'm not worried though, I'm sure I will some day! I have to say, I felt closer to finding one than I ever have before. Using the tips that Bryan gave me I felt like a pro, and I found a Western Terrestrial Garter Snake by using the mirror technique. I found some good stuff too (Western Terrestrial Garter, Woodhouse Toad, Arizona Alligator Lizard, Sonoran Gopher Snake, Ornate Tree Liazard) so the trip was definitely fun! Especially since herping wasn't the main part of the trip. We were celebrating our one year wedding anniversary but thankfully my wife is ok with me running out into the woods on my own to look for critters haha.

Can someone help me figure out how to upload photos? I see an insert image button but when I click it it just types the following: Image I also see an add files button in the attachments tab, is this where I'm supposed to put the photos? When I try to attach photos it says the files are too large.

Thanks!
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Porter
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Joined: March 19th, 2011, 6:43 pm

Re: Tips for Locating Lampropeltis Pyromelana in Arizona

Post by Porter »

grant220towne wrote: May 25th, 2022, 12:47 pm In case anyone wanted an update...

I didn't find my pyro this time around. I'm not worried though, I'm sure I will some day! I have to say, I felt closer to finding one than I ever have before. Using the tips that Bryan gave me I felt like a pro, and I found a Western Terrestrial Garter Snake by using the mirror technique. I found some good stuff too (Western Terrestrial Garter, Woodhouse Toad, Arizona Alligator Lizard, Sonoran Gopher Snake, Ornate Tree Liazard) so the trip was definitely fun! Especially since herping wasn't the main part of the trip. We were celebrating our one year wedding anniversary but thankfully my wife is ok with me running out into the woods on my own to look for critters haha.

Can someone help me figure out how to upload photos? I see an insert image button but when I click it it just types the following: Image I also see an add files button in the attachments tab, is this where I'm supposed to put the photos? When I try to attach photos it says the files are too large.

Thanks!
Turn back now before it’s too late..! That snake snake will ruin your life lol I’ll send out my old dog Rex to find one before I ever turn to the darkside ☝️ Mark my words ✅

55A1F8DD-F561-488E-9382-58EB72B266AB.png


There should be an attachment button at the bottom that looks like this:

Then you have to put the cursor where you want the image to appear, and select “place in line “
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Bryan Hamilton
Posts: 1231
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 8:49 pm

Re: Tips for Locating Lampropeltis Pyromelana in Arizona

Post by Bryan Hamilton »

I'm glad you had some success. Its a fun journey.

Porter isn't too far off "Turn back now before it’s too late..! That snake snake will ruin your life lol ". I think its too late for us all.
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Porter
Posts: 2327
Joined: March 19th, 2011, 6:43 pm

Re: Tips for Locating Lampropeltis Pyromelana in Arizona

Post by Porter »

Bryan Hamilton wrote: May 27th, 2022, 6:24 am I'm glad you had some success. Its a fun journey.

Porter isn't too far off "Turn back now before it’s too late..! That snake snake will ruin your life lol ". I think its too late for us all.
Don’t mind my excess commentary grant220towne. I’m just salty at life in general.

I was in the drive-through at Starbucks yesterday on my way to work. And I look through the drive-through window as I’m waiting for my drink… And there’s the over-the-top and proud, loud-and-rallying flamboyant employee staring at me with an uncomfortable look in his eye, shaking a can of whip cream up & down for more than 20 seconds. After coming out of the tired sleepy daze I was in… I couldn’t help but burst into laughter. I mean the kind of laughter that you just know you shouldn’t let out but you can’t help it anyway lol And the girl that was between us who was handing me the drink took offense to it like I was laughing at something she said. So I just out right and told her… “I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing at your coworker (Who she knew to be openly gay) staring at me shaking the whip cream can up and down” :lol: and she kind of smiled like she knew exactly what I meant, but was keeping herself under restraint of not getting herself in trouble at work… So she just kind of nodded and smiled like… I get what you’re saying, it’s OK no worries

I’m now just in fact realizing that my response earlier in this post was to someone talking about their “brain” and not “Brian” lmao so anything I post, should be understood, is in a sleepy daze and should never be taken serious ☝️ Because half of the time… I don’t even know what I’m talking about

As far as Brian‘s book goes… I’ve never read it (although at one time, I had in fact purchased it). And most would agree, I have never found a mountain kingsnake. But there was this one dude, this one time, who had purchased Brain‘s book… and that guy used it to find his own spots for mountain kingsnake in the Bay Area. And this is a picture of the snake I found, at the spot that he found, and is the only mountain kingsnake I have ever found…(talk about going around and around)

The snake:

D098F88B-434F-4A2F-B82E-F3D1288684AC.jpeg
E14BD378-950E-4303-9A93-DA3B61CF05A4.jpeg
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