Monday, October 29, 2012

Rattle, Rattle, Rattlesnake!

1. Saguaro NP-kab Saguaro National Park-Rincon Unit 10-26-12

Friday night was so beautiful here in Tucson that when Gus got home from work early I suggested we take a drive through Saguaro National Park before the sunset. I quickly grabbed my bins and camera, then we hopped in Gus’ convertible, put the top down, and headed for the park. I think we got in just before they closed the gates for the night. While Gus drove slowly around the 8 mile loop road I looked out over the desert enjoying the evening glow. While there were not many birds to be seen, I did notice what looked like a stick on the edge of the road as we rounded a corner.

2. rattlesnake-kab Black-tailed Rattlesnake in Saguaro NP

I have lived here long enough to know that the stick was probably a rattlesnake. So Gus slowed down, backed up, and looked in his rearview mirror. Sure enough it was a snake! I carefully and quietly got out of the car and reached in for my bins and camera. Keeping the car between myself and the snake, I snapped off a few pictures.

3. snakehead-kab Snake head and tongue


4. scales-kab Snake Scales

5. rattle-kab Snake Rattle

Though at first I thought this was a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake I was soon to discover that it was a Black-tailed Rattlesnake distinguished by the uniformly black tail.

6. patterns-kab Snake Pattern


7. diamonds-kab Swollen Rattlesnake Belly

I could see a bulge in the middle of the snake’s length and couldn’t help but wonder if it had eaten recently. We hoped the snake would get off the road by either finishing crossing the road or heading back the other way. At one point it seemed like it was going back into the desert, but then it turned back onto the warm road once again. If it had just eaten I suspect it needed the warmth of the road to help it digest its food, since snakes are cold-blooded and regulate their body temperature by their surroundings. They need to be warm enough for the digestion to function. In the end we just drove off and hoped that no one else would drive over the snake. We had passed one other car just before this. Hopefully they would drive carefully, aware of the wildlife.

8. rincons-kab Catalina Mountains to the North


9. Moonrise-kab Moonrise over the Rincon Mountains

It was the perfect night for a drive.



  1. Love the idea of riding in the desert dusk with the top down. Those scale patterns are wonderful and you captured them well, and safely with the zoom.

    1. Gaelyn, you always surprise me by being the first to comment here! Thanks for the comment and your friendship! And yes, the zoom helped me stay safe!

  2. I had never seen a black tailed rattlesnake before! Nice photos! I hope he/she made it to the other side of the road. I sometimes find snakes up on Highway 74, but most of the time, they have been run over by cars speeding up or down the mountain.

  3. beautiful pictures...ESPECIALLY the snake. i've never seen a black tailed rattler, never even heard of one!

    we had a BIG rattler in the back yard a couple of months ago...and Milo was face to face with it! scary!!

  4. Great scenery and pics! But the snake ones still gave me the hee-bee gee-bees!

  5. Nice photos of the snake and rattle.
    Sounds like you and Gus are having fun back in Arizona!

  6. Beautiful blacktail! That is one of the most attractive species in the US - in some places (South of you just a bit), it can be yellow and black like a bumblebee. Amazing animals and a great photo. If you have any questions about them, let me know.

  7. Love the texture in those scales. Good job, Kathie!

  8. Terrific photographs of the snake! The patterns and markings are beautiful. I hope this snake moved on off the road soon after you snapped your images. Pretty scenic shots, as well!

  9. That was a really cool find Kathie! I love snakes from a distance....long distance:) When I take the pictures, I forget that they are right in front of me:) Then I slowly back away and let them be:)It sounds like it was a nice night:)

  10. He's a wonderful rattler, and I am so glad you guys came across him!


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.