This week’s theme: Snakes – Two diamondbacks in love and a bull snake at the front door

And the week is not yet over.  Hmmm.

On what would have been John Lennon’s 72nd Birthday, October 9th, this past tuesday, I found two diamondback rattle snakes at the edge of my garage door.  I did not know at first that there were two.

If one rattlesnake is enough to startle you, imagine what you would feel like, photographing it’s tail, thinking you are well away from where it had it’s head, and all of a sudden another head slithers in your direction.  It took me a moment to realize that what I was seeing was two snakes and not a freak of nature.

Eventually, they unraveled just long enough for me to get a good photo showing the two of them.

Before I knew there were two, I called my neighbours and asked them to bring over the snake handling tongs.   I had to keep an eye on my unwanted visitor who had chosen a location too close to the front door and  could easily slip into the garage if the door were opened.  My plan was to relocate it over the wall into the desert but leave it on the property.

None of us want to mess with one rattler and without the right equipment and experience it is dangerous and not recommended.  But then, when I figured out that I had a happy couple in love, the plan changed.  For sure none of us were going to mess with two!

So we all started making phone calls to find someone to advise us on what to do.

This is one of the great things I love about Cave Creek.  If you neighbour doesn’t know what to do, they at least know someone, who in this case turned out to know someone else that can totally help you.  I hit pay dirt with the Phoenix Herpetological Society who put me in touch with a professional who for a reasonable fee, came and took the snakes away and promised to relocate them unharmed.

I had to keep an eye on the snakes to know where they are.  No point in having the snake handler arrive to find out that these two have moved on.  Out here, they can disappear in a few seconds.

What was most interesting was that the head of one of the snakes (I would later learn that this was the male) was much more active than that of the other one.  Their tails remained entangled together and hardly moved.

It was actually quite sensual to watch their ritual.  The front parts of their bodies slithered together gently with their heads rubbing intimately as if they were kissing and touching cheeks.

After doing some research on the mating behavior of diamondbacks I am pretty sure that the male is the one on top.

What was most interesting, is that at no time, even with me photographing them and the neighbours and I talking did they rattle.  In fact, when the snake handler picked one of them up with her tongs, the other snake remained attached.  That’s when I felt bad about having disturbed what should have been their private moment.  But still, they did not rattle!

This brings me back to the idea that for some of us, including John Lennon, we believe that it is impossible to make war when you are making love.  I know I sound like a cliche but what can I say?  I believe in paying attention to nature and I believe in synchronicity.

Not all lovers are created equal

I don’t want to give you the wrong impression that all rattlesnakes are sensual and don’t mind being disturbed. Here’s a youtube video that I found that shows otherwise.  Notice how they are rattling.  That’s a warning to stay away!

Western Diamondback Fact Sheet
Wikipedia on Crotalus Atrox

Not a Mating Dance

There are many videos on YouTube that show two diamondbacks in a ritual dance that claim that the two are mating.  (just search for rattlesnake mating dance).  This is not necessarily mating and in fact it is a fight  between two males vying for dominance and the opportunity to mate with a female.  here’s one good video.  If you notice, they are not attached at the tail.

Tonight’s front door visitor

Back in March 2010 I wrote a piece called The Earth Is My Witness that describes how I live in the desert where the wildlife and I connect at the threshold of my front door.

Tonight, it was dark when we got back from our evening walk and the dog came to a complete stop a foot from the door and backed up, startling me.

I’m glad.  She saved me letting this little guy into the house.

This is not a rattlesnake.  This is a bull snake and he is most welcome to stay around the outside of the house.