Our snake count is at 30! We’ve got eight racers and 22 bullsnakes.
That’s a lot of snakes, and of course, we always stumble upon them when we least expect them. We were out doing vegetation surveys at one of the locations we had tracked Spike (bullsnake #3) to on a large hill. We do vegetation surveys to look at what habitat characteristics the snakes like to use. As we were wandering the hill observiing different habitat characteristics, we stumbled upon a large racer (that we later named Redemption). The whole time we were trying to catch her it probably looked like a slapstick comedy, with the three of us running around the hill, falling all over ourselves, while Redemption easily moved about the hill, avoiding our grasp. Leagh eventually snagged her! She was our second transmitter-approved- sized racer.
Leagh holding Redemption
But Redemption wasn’t our only surprise for the day. We also ran into Spike mating with another large female bullsnake! We captured her after they had finished their hugging and kissing, we named her Inara (Firefly anyone?).
Spike biting Inara’s neck during mating
Bullsnake wise we’ve been busy in our naming. In addition to Spike, Magenta, Nagini, Otto, Dash, and Inara, we’ve got Akima, Aldonza, Mushu, Violet, and Tiny Tim (a petite little bullsnake male). We also have Gimli (the dwarf snake), Juno, Calypso, and Pandora (who has gotten the farthest in an escape attempt from a pillow case). Finally, we have captured Forrest, Enobaria (she was a feisty little one), Sierra, Scully, and Trillian. We find each bullsnake has a different personality, but generally they are either feisty (where they hiss and lunge at us, which is when we call in Leagh the snake tamer!), hissy (where they hiss really loud and just look angry/annoyed in general), or they are super chill (where they just curl around your arm and hang out). We’ve had more of the former than the latter.
From top left clockwise: Gimli the dwarf snake; Pandora making her escape; Mushu constricting Leagh’s arm; Tiny Tim, our petite little bullsnake.
Racers so far have all been pretty bitey. They tend to just hold their mouths open really wide and hope that your hand/fingers find their way in so they can chomp down. It looks like they are smiling really big in pictures, which is always funny. Leagh seems to be the favorite to bite so far, with her record of six bites. In addition to Redemption, Drusilla, and Rocky, we have captured Oz, Schmendrick, Egon, Ace, and Bolt. Ace has been the calmest racer so far, and did not try to bite at all (except to give Leagh a goodbye chomp).
Left: Oz saying cheese. Right: Ace giving Leagh a goodbye chomp on the hand
We also found a transmitter signal from a bullsnake that had been implanted with a transmitter in 2013! This is so exciting because now we can track one extra bullsnake in a completely different area of the Big Muddy.
Hopefully there will be more adventures to come as we explore this new area of the valley.