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One of my favorite desert critters


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Hi All

Sweatpea found this in our front yard last night. Irregardless of what you've heard or read they are quite harmless unless you have girly girl hands. This is one of the smallest I've found probably around 16-17 inches. They are usually a little larger in the 20 inch or so range. These are stunning animals and even though they are abundant in the Southern Az upper deserts they are very rarely seen. In all my snake huntin days I've only seen maybe a 1/2 dozen others. A good friend of mine had one as a pet for 22 years then it died of old age. His was a sub adult and similar in size to this one when he caught it. They only eat tiny smooth scaled snakes like the blind and black headed snakes. Which in it'self is a chore to find. This is an Arizona Coral Snake which rarely exceed 22 inches in length. In the south eastern US the coral snakes reach about 3 feet and in mexico ,central America and south America they can exceed 6 foot and cause many deaths each year from thier bites. The Coral snakes are the new worlds relatives to the cobra family and their venom is nurotoxic unlike rattlesnakes which are hemotoxic. Meaning the venom works on the nervous system. These snakes have immovable fangs and years ago I was given one that a house cat chewed up. I tried to save it but it died within a couple days from it's injuries. I attempted to see the fangs which with a loop I couldn't see. I could feel them with the edge of a knife but boy are they tiny and it would be virtually impossible to put any depth on a bite of tough hands. I've handled several of these over the years and biting is not protection response of this little subspecies !! Well here's some pix of a couple of superlative specimens. One's the Coral snake and the Handsome guy with the beard is me !! Happy Huntin John B.

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Hey John B. Why don't you put his tail in his mouth and staple it shut and hang a gold nugget and you will have a pretty necklace.....until he starts smelling anyway.....cute little critter. Jerry

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Yo John...Hard to tell from the photos...Is the stripe between the black and red yellow or white?...Do they like hanging around moist areas or are they found just out in the desert like rattlers....I think I've seen one but thought it was a king snake like those in California...Cheers, Ron

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Hi John,

That is indeed a rare snake to run into. I've lived here my whole life and only seen one. It was in the Bradshaw Mountains. Very cool find, and nice pictures.

Thanks, Ben

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Hi Ron

The light bands on this one are a cream white. I think they yellow with age kinda like our teeth ?? The larger ones I've had before were a yellower band. I even caught one that the light band behind the head was real yellow and the other bands were a creamy white. These guys probably extent up to your area as the northern most part of there range. They seem to live in elevation between 2000 ft to 4500 ft. There are many look alikes that are confused with these snakes. The longnosed , Mountain King, Shovel nosed, Banded sand and several species of ground snakes have similar coloration and patterns. Happy Huntin John B.

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Hey John,

Like you, I was an avid herper years ago. I`ve collected from the San Diego coast to the Anza Borrego Desert to east of Eloy ,AZ. When I say collected I mean catch & release. He

re are pics of one of the only two I have ever come across ...Friendly little fellows they are...

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Adam (aka- rockhound)

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I had a Coral snake for a pet when I was a kid.

Named it Charlie, I did.

It would eat crickets from my fingers and never tried to bite.

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Remember the old Boy Scout jingle, "Red on yellow, kill a fellow; red on black, venom lack". The coral snakes are red & black with yellow in between. In other words, every other band is yellow (or a whitish creamy color as John B points out). King snakes often are confused with coral snakes, but their red bands touch their black bands. Some rattlesnakes, like the mojave green, have neurotoxic venom combined with a hemotoxin. John B: You da man. Thanks for sharing.

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Hi All

Adam where were those pix taken :whoopie: ?? I've never seen an Az coral with odd black blotching in the red bands :confused0013: . The Texas have them and the Easterns are butt ugly with them :Huh_anim]: . All the ones I've seen or played with were gorgeous unadulterated red banding. Have you ever seen a crotalus prici, lepedus or willardi ?? I've seen lots of em !! This little guy will be released as soon as were done landscaping !! I'd hate to squash him :tisc-tisc: !! I'ld also like to give him a warm snakey meal before a kiss goodbye !! Homefire if yours ate crickets it probably wasn't a coral snake. For some reason there menu only includes tiny smooth scaled snakes. Maybe you had a scarlet snake or a king snake or one of the ground snakes :hmmmmmm: ?? Yeah Martin you are right on the mojave !! Freddy the only difference between me and the snake is the snake is handsome and I'm pretty :innocent0002: !! Happy Huntin John B.

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It was a Coral snake.

It was a Herpetologist from the U of A that told my mom who made me let it go. HA!

I knew what I had and didn't care.

Red to Yellow Round head. Coral Snake.

Diet

The favorite prey of the coral snake is primarily other reptiles and small lizards, amphibians like frogs and small mammals. It's cannibalistic and doesn't refrain from eating other coral snakes. Young birds and insects also belong to its daily diet.

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John your right , the one you caught there is much more colorful & defined on the banding. I dont believe I have found any of the ridge nose or twin spotted ratlesnakes as I did not get out hunting in higher elevations much. They sure are nice looking though. I think I found a juvinile twin once ...but not to sure.

I`m going to PM you the location info on the coral.

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Hi Homefire

Having kepy several myself and with many friends that have kept them . The arizona coral will almost exclusivly eat tiny blind snakes and blackheaded snakes ( genera tantilla). The books are written by morons who have little to no husbandry experience with these secretive animals. Even the sonaran desert museum has better luck replacing specimens than getting there captives to feed since the prey is almost as hard to find. Happy Huntin John B.

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Heres a pic of a milk snake that looks alot like a coral snake :hmmmmmm: JB I thought your favorite desert critters were the free range four legged critters that go Ba-aa-aaa :ROFL: ---Mike C... :ph34r2: pueblan.jpg

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Hi Homefire

Having kepy several myself and with many friends that have kept them . The arizona coral will almost exclusivly eat tiny blind snakes and blackheaded snakes ( genera tantilla). The books are written by morons who have little to no husbandry experience with these secretive animals. Even the sonaran desert museum has better luck replacing specimens than getting there captives to feed since the prey is almost as hard to find. Happy Huntin John B.

Well I guess Mine was a Exclusion! :coffeetime:

Hey! My father is a Official Photographer out there at the Desert Museum.

Cool place indeed.

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Hi Mike

That's a Pueblaen Milk Snake from Puebla Mx. Lampropeltis Triangulum. I had babies from the first clutch of eggs from the first collected specimens by Barry Armstrong which were IDed as a new subspieces back in the late 70s by the Dallas zoo. Now there are alot of hybrids. Some with white heads called sock heads and varying banding sizes. I once caught a Sinoloan milk snake as it was slithering off the road outside of Matzatlan. I grabed it and it grabed me and remember sitting there trying to remember that red to yellow kill a fellow saying ?? Now I must go baaaaaaaack to the desert to tend my flock !!

Homefire maybe your father could find out what curator Howard Lawler did with the albino Crotolas Atrox ( western diamondback) I donated to them.

Happy Huntin John B.

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Hi Mike

That's a Pueblaen Milk Snake from Puebla Mx. Lampropeltis Triangulum. I had babies from the first clutch of eggs from the first collected specimens by Barry Armstrong which were IDed as a new subspieces back in the late 70s by the Dallas zoo. Now there are alot of hybrids. Some with white heads called sock heads and varying banding sizes. I once caught a Sinoloan milk snake as it was slithering off the road outside of Matzatlan. I grabed it and it grabed me and remember sitting there trying to remember that red to yellow kill a fellow saying ?? Now I must go baaaaaaaack to the desert to tend my flock !!

Homefire maybe your father could find out what curator Howard Lawler did with the albino Crotolas Atrox ( western diamondback) I donated to them.

Happy Huntin John B.

All he was involved with was Photography.

If you want his E-mail addy PM me.

http://www.arizonahighways.com/static/inde...?contentID=1048

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