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   Jan 29

Prairie Rattlesnake

This prairie rattler was one of 3 found on our final day
Central Kansas. Our targets were twofold—a western hognose, Heterodon n. nasicus, and a prairie rattler, Crotalus v. viridis.The afternoon sun shone from a cloudless sky with a palpable force. Despite being basically white in color the roadway we were on was uncomfortably hot. If herps were to be seen at all it would be fleetingly and probably at roadedge. A few minutes before sunset Jake spied the first, a juvenile speckled king snake, Lampropeltis getula holbrooki, that had just emerged from the roadside grasses. This sighting was followed by several western slender glass lizards, Ophisaurus a. attenuata.

One hour passed, then 2. No hoggies, and except for one DOR, no rattlers. And except at the end when we found a very defensive bullsnake, Pituophis catenifer sayi, the next evening was even slower—a couple of pheasants, a lot of slender glass lizards, and incessant lightning accompanying distant storms.

But the third night was the charm. The baking hot day hadn’t seemed much different to me, but the snakes—at least the prairie rattlers, Crotalus v. viridis, found it more favorable. We found the first, a 28 incher, crossing a gravel roadway about a half an hour before sunset. We each took a dozen or more photos and put the snake off of the road. Then came a dozen glass lizards. And then another prairie rattler, this one slightly longer and of a darker color than the first. More pix. It was now nearly dark and for the next hour we saw only crossing glass lizards. Then another rattler. This one, larger still and very dark in color, was photographed in the car’s headlights with the assist of the camera’s flashes, and left as found.

When we left for the southland the next day, we left happy.
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