These 6 contestants were collected in the San Tan Valley and Superstition Mountain area.
In honor of World Snake Day, vote for your favorite on our Facebook page.
A. “Go-fer Broke” Gopher Snake
The Gopher Snake (also called a Bull Snake) is not venomous, but is often confused with a rattlesnake.
-Large and heavy-bodied, the gopher snake typically reaches 4 feet in length
-Because of its similar body markings and behavior when threatened (hissing, tail shaking and strike –posturing) it is frequently mistaken for a rattlesnake
-But a tapered tail, the absence of a rattle, the lack of a facial pit, and the round pupils all distinguish the gopher snake from the rattlesnake.
-A good climber, the gopher snake is active mainly during the day, except in extreme heat.
-.A constrictor, its prey is mostly mammals, although birds and their eggs are also eaten.
B. “Diamond Dave” Diamondback
Diamondback Rattlesnake, coiled and ready to strike. Most commonly encountered rattlesnake in San Tan Valley.
-The Western diamondback rattlesnake ranging from 3-5 feet long, is a heavy-bodied snake with a triangular shaped head and two dark diagonal lines on each side of its face running from the eyes to its jaws.
-Its venom is actually a toxic saliva: a mixture of enzymes that destroys blood or paralyzes nerves.
-Western diamondbacks are pit vipers which means that they have a heat sensing pit behind each nostril that can detect differences in temperature as little as a fraction of a degree apart. The heat given off by an animal is detected by the snake helping it to determine predator from prey.
-Mice, rats, rabbits, gophers, ground dwelling birds, lizards and other small animals make up the diet of this snake. But diamondbacks also have many predators such as eagles, hawks, roadrunners, king snakes, coyotes, bobcats and fox.
-During the heat of the day diamondbacks will remain coiled in the shade of shrubs or rocks, while in winter, they retreat into caves or similar places to hibernate.
-Its rattle is made up of keratin (the same protein hair and fingernails are made of) and a new segment is added each time a rattlesnake sheds
-Male rattlesnakes engage in ritualistic combats during the spring mating season presumably to determine the sexual fitness of a male.
C. “Carol” Coral Snake
Beautiful red, black and yellow banded coral snake. Very secretive and rarely seen.
-The Arizona coral snake is a slender, small snake reaching only 13 to 21 inches.
-It is a brightly colored snake with broad alternating bands of red and black separated by narrower bands of bright white or yellow which completely encircle the body
-A secretive snake, it usually emerges after sundown, feeding primarily on blind and black-headed snakes. Occasionally it eats lizards or other small, smooth-scaled snakes.
-While its venom is similar to that of the cobra, because it is small with small front fixed fangs the venom does not pose as much danger to humans as that of rattlesnakes.
-Many people use a rhyme to identify a coral snake-“red on yellow kill a fellow, red on black venom lack”
D. “Longnose Rose” Longnose snake
Longnose Snake has a banded appearance like many other snakes in our area. It is nonvenomous.
-This slender snake varies considerably in pattern and coloring, reaching lengths of slightly over 3 feet.
-It is sometimes confused with the venomous coral snake because of its similar color banding pattern but can be distinguished by its long nose and banding that does not completely encircle it body.
-When disturbed, the longnose snake writhes and twists its body, vibrates its tail, and defecates feces and blood from its anal opening.
-An excellent burrower if the soil is sandy, it can also retreat under rocks or into rock crevices or rodent burrows,
-Active primarily at night, it feeds on lizards, lizard eggs, small snakes, small mammals, and birds.
E. “Sid” Sidewinder
The sidewinder coloration blends in well with its sandy surroundings. It can be a “feisty” rattlesnake.
-This small rattlesnake about 2 feet long can be tan, cream, or light gray with a dark stripe extending from the eye to above the corner of the mouth. Its coloring often matches the soil or sand on which the snake lives.
-During mild spring days it is out and about but seeks shelter in underground burrows during the hot summer months, only coming out at night
-In sandy areas this snake often coils partially buried in the sand, with only its head exposed.
-Its name is derived from its distinctive method of moving sideways with its body winding through an “S” shaped curve leaving distinctive parallel J-shaped tracks in the sand.
-As with other “pit-vipers” the sidewinder uses the heat sensing pits on each side of the face between the eye and nostril to detect warm-blooded predators and prey. –
An ambush hunter, the sidewinder coils and waits for unsuspecting lizards, mice, birds, and snakes to wander within striking distance.
F. “Lionel” Lyre Snake
The lyre snake is named for the pattern on the top of its head that resembles the musical instrument. While mildly venomous, it does not pose a serious threat to pets.
– Named for the V-shaped marking on its head that looks like the musical instrument
-This mildly venomous, rear-fanged snake is about 4 feet in length
-Lives in rocks, crevices and fissures -Feeds primarily on lizards, but also eats birds and bats.
-Primarily nocturnal, it is seldom active during the day.
-When alarmed, the lyre snake will raise up, shake its tail, hiss, and strike, biting the intruder if not left alone. This behavior, sometimes causes the lyre snake to be mistaken for a rattlesnake.
Bonnie’s Parents knew exactly what to do.
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