Monday, June 14, 2010

Gopher Snakes in Rock Piles

A common but spectacular sight in Utah Valley:

We tried our luck with some rock piles:

The cactus flowers were worth a look:

In each of the many


This was a breeding pair of gopher snakes. They were copulating when found and then decided to take off in different directions when they saw us. Both of these gopher snakes were about 5 feet long.

Judging by their huge heads, these were really old gopher snakes. The male, being held on the right, had girth like a python.

Another pose with the well-fed couple:

We made sure they escaped in the same direction:

Both didn't quite fit in this hiding spot:

Some of the scenery. We also observed a juvenile hawk being chased away from a high cliff nest repeatedly. It was complaining loudly and kept trying to return to the nest, which probably had this year's chicks in it. We were fortunate to have found any snakes in this small canyon with a hawks' nest overlooking almost every part of the rock slides.

This is the first bat that I have ever flipped. It literally scared the pee out of it:

The bat made some of the most unusual noises that I have ever heard. I thought that bats hung out in groups and in caves.

I put the thing back by the bark to allow it to climb back in and it gave us a bat farewell.

We stumbled upon 2 fawns:

These fawns froze and wouldn't move a muscle:

The fawns wouldn't even flee when approached:

It was cool to be able to pet wild fawns, but

then we wondered if the mom would abandon them because of our scent.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Great Basin Gopher Snakes

Most people that have spent time outdoors in Utah have seen gopher snakes. They are pretty hard to miss, especially in the spring. I never get tired of seeing gopher snakes.

Gopher snakes are easily the best-looking of all snakes with keeled scales. They are better looking than most smooth-scaled snakes. The eye stripes are awesome.

Most gopher snakes make great pets and eat pre-killed mice without trouble.

Gopher snakes and a sage lizard:

Gopher snakes are said to grow to over 6 feet, but I haven't found many that are even 5 feet in length. I have found large skin sheds, but the skin can stretch during the shed, so that is not an accurate representation of length. Adult gopher snake length doesn't come close to adult gray rat snakes, but gophers are much more handsome.

Like I said, they're pretty tame for a wild snake:

A niece who loves to pick up reptiles:

A nephew who likes to taste reptiles:

Where did that fence lizard come from?

A big dark one:

with a black and white yearling:

There were quite a few heavy-laden female fence lizards on the rocks where we unloaded the 4-wheelers:

Plenty of gopher snakes to go around.

I like the ones where the black turns to rusty brown:

One of these had pretty bright yellow:

A small fence lizard: