Arizona July 2011

I made a herping trip down to Arizona with my friends, Jason and Brian, July 20-27, 2011. We also ventured in New Mexico just long enough for me to pick up a speeding ticket (we also saw a couple of cool herps in NM). It was monsoon season and consequently it rained nearly every afternoon and evening. Trying to plan our activities around the rain was one of the things that made the trip interesting. The photos below are in somewhat random order but are grouped by species. With all of the rain, numerous frog and toad species were seen. Did you know that Arizona is home to many more anuran species than Ohio?

Sonoran Desert Toad (Incilius alvarius). These are big impressive beasts.

Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus).

Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus).

Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus).

Sonoran Green Toad (Anaxyrus retiformis).

Lowland Burrowing Treefrog (Smilisca fodiens).

Another look at the preceding animal (a very cool frog).

Canyon Treefrog (Hyla arenicolor).

Couch's Spadefoot (Scaphiopus couchii).

Red-spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus).

Mexican Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata).

Green Toad (Anaxyrus debilis).

Now for some habitat shots.

A creek we searched with little success.

Another section of the creek.

Sunset over the Chiricahua Mountains.

A Mountain Patch-nosed snake (pics below) was found in the hills across the way.

Nice vista. Storms starting to build in the distance.

Sonora Mud Turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense), as found by Brian. There was a cattle pond nearby.

Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus).

Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum). This was one of the first animals seen on the trip. Needless to say, it was very exciting when this appeared in our headlights.

Another shot of the animal above. This animal wouldn't stop moving.

We only saw a couple of other herpers on this trip, which was somewhat surprising, since it was the "high season" and also the Biology of the Rattlesnakes conference was taking place in Tuscon.

This animal was found by another group:

A young Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum). This animal was more than happy to sit still.

Another look.

Yet another look.

A closeup of the beaded skin.

Common Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater).

Plateau Fence Lizard (Sceloporus tristichus).

Plateau Fence Lizard (Sceloporus tristichus).

Plateau Striped Whiptail (Aspidoscelis velox), pausing for rest in the shade.

A lightly-patterned Madrean Alligator Lizard (Elgaria kingii). When I first got a glance at this animal, it was on the move and I thought it was a skink...

A closer look at the above animal.

Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus).

Jason, Brian, our friend Mike (who we met up with one night), and the young Gila Monster.

Brats and beans for dinner.

A tarantula found night hiking.

Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox). This was the first snake of the trip I saw. Jason spotted it during the day by using a mirror to shine light down a hole under a boulder.

Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox).

Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox).

Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox).

California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae).

Sonoran Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer affinis)).

Another look at the above animal.

Sonoran Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer affinis)), as found on a dirt road. This animal was out on a cold wet night.

A closer look.

Tiger Rattlesnake (Crotalus tigris).

Same animal as above.

Tiger Rattlesnake (Crotalus tigris), found by another group.

Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei).

Arizona Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi willardi). I found this one crossing a trail in the rain.

The same snake as above, after it crawled about two feet up the trunk of a tree. The climbing behavior surprised me a bit.

Arizona Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi willardi). I also found this one on the crawl in the rain...

Another look.

Sonoran Whipsnake (Masticophis bilineatus). This was the first time I had ever seen this species, and I was impressed by how beautiful they are.

Another pose.

Close up.

Sonoran Whipsnake (Masticophis bilineatus). This was another animal that climbed up in a bush. From here, it went about 30' up an adjacent tree.

Black-necked Gartersnake (Thamnophis cyrtopsis).

Black-tailed Rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus). This snake was out on the crawl and buzzed me before I saw it (I was about 20' away).

Another look.

About 15 minutes after we had finished photographing the above snake, Jason returned to the spot to pick up his pack (he had left it intentionally while he searched nearby). He noticed that snake had moved under a nearby rock and was not alone:

The snake was with a big rat of some sort. I don't know exactly what was going on here. We speculate that maybe the snake had killed the rat before I came along and that I had encountered it on its was to get its meal. We considered waiting to see what would happen next, but the snake was very aware of our presence and agitated. It seemed like it could be a very long wait, so we went on our way and left the snake to its business.

Black-tailed Rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus), found crossing a dirt road. It jumped into this stance soon after we got out of the vehicle.

Another shot of the above animal, in the shade this time.

Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus), found by Jason.

Another shot of the above animal. Notice the burned leaves in the foreground. The area had experienced a fire about a month before.

One last look.

Brian found the animal below, in my opinion the most beautiful serpent seen on the trip:

Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus lepidus).

Another look.

Mohave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus). Only because we were in Arizona am I spelling it "Mohave" rather than "Mojave"...

A neonate Mohave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus).

Mountain Patch-nosed Snake (Salvadora grahamiae). Brian found this animal. A neat species.

Another pose.

Close up.

That's it for photos. Other species seen include: Side-blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana), Lesser Earless Lizard (Holbrookia maculata), Clark's Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus clarkii), Southwestern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus cowlesi), Yarrow's Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus jarrovii), Striped Plateau Lizard (Sceloporus virgatus), Sonoran Spotted Whiptail (Aspidoscelis sonorae), Tiger Whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris), Desert Grassland Whiptail (Aspidoscelis uniparens), Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum, DOR), Desert Nightsnake (Hypsiglena chlorophaea, DOR), Checkered Gartersnake (Thamnophis marcianus, DOR), and Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii). Also, while in the range of the Narrow-headed Gartersnake (Thamnophis rufipunctatus), I saw a garter/water snake of some sort which managed to escape.

Brian and Jason stayed a couple of days longer than I did. They saw a few more cool things, particularly an Arizona Black Rattlesnake (Crotalus cerberus). I would have liked to have seen that -- next time I guess. Good herps, good company, good times!